Working remotely isn’t for everyone, but, as recent statistics show, it’s becoming more and more accepted by both employers and employees. According to a 2018 report from FlexJobs.com, 3.9 million Americans, or 2.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce, work remotely at least half of the time, which is up 115 percent since 2005. That’s not too surprising, given the fact many companies are hiring outside of their local regions, looking for the ideal candidates who have the chops to work from home.
Personally speaking, working remotely was always my dream scenario. Don’t get me wrong, as an extrovert, I thrive off of the energy of coworkers, but, for a number of factors — annoying commutes, office politics and/or difficult to find work-life balance — I always had aspirations to avoid the office full-time. Lucky for me, since graduating from college in 2007, I’ve worked remotely for about seven of the 11 years, giving me plenty of experience on how to make it work.
Sure, taking a day every so often to work from home is easy, but doing it every single day takes some skill — or, at least I’d like to think so. Without giving myself too much credit, here are some lessons that I’ve learned from working remotely, in case you ever have the urge to try it out for yourself on a part- or full-time basis.
Just the other day, I was telling my buddy about how working remotely can often make me feel guilty — especially when these long summer days are in full swing. Look, whether you’re freelance or a full-time employee with normal business hours, having flexibility is a major perk of working from home. Take advantage of that by practicing some work-life balance and complete personal tasks at odd times.
I’m not telling you to blow off work and spend hours eating lunch, working out or running errands, but it’s OK to take advantage of a sunny day by going for a long walk to enjoy the outdoors every now and again. When you do it, put the phone down and allow your mind to recalibrate, I promise that no one will die if you don’t immediately reply to an email or Slack message, even if it’s urgent.
Working remotely is all about routine. For me, it’s a little odd saying that since routine is part of the reason why I’ve tried to avoid an office for so long. Still, routine is a huge determining factor in success when working from home — and it’s critical to find what’s best for you.
Some people like sitting on their couch and having the TV on, others prefer blasting music, with some avoiding any temptation (er, home distractions) and only work from coffee shops all the time — just make sure you’re calculating a monthly budget correctly. Regardless of how and where you get your best work done from, find the best routine and try to stay in it. Still, don’t burn yourself out by only doing that same thing every single day, so mix in a coffee shop at times, or, hell, work from a park — assuming you’ve got Internet access if you need it.
Whether you’re in normal business hours or not, mixing up your work hours by breaking up the day is an important part in finding success in working remotely. That doesn’t mean starting work at noon each day, but don’t be so hard on yourself to be in front of your computer by the time 9 a.m. hits. Working from home should relieve any office politics stress of showing face at all times.
Personally, I’ll find myself starting anywhere between 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. After that, my day sort of gets away from me, so it’s helpful to have a dead end time you’d like to start work each day. For example, there are times I knock out some work on Sunday nights for a couple of hours, so I don’t feel bad when I get my Monday going at 10 a.m., knowing I’m ahead on some tasks.
Unlike people in an office, I don’t have the luxury of getting up from my desk and asking Cheryl in accounting even the simplest of questions. Therefore, communication with my coworkers has to be top-notch.
In a way, working remotely has forced me to think twice about what’s important to communicate with a colleague, and what’s just small talk. Understanding this has allowed me to focus on doing work efficiently, rather than find myself running into hurdles or distractions.
Now, as I mentioned above, working remotely isn’t for everyone. As it becomes more popular, though, having a few tips to better understand how to do it successfully will, hopefully, help you determine if it’s right for you. As I’ve found, some personality types just aren’t meant to sit in an office day long, and there’s no better time than now to take advantage of that.
Lead image via author’s Facebook
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