As you settle into the life of an remote worker, you will find that you experience many up’s and downs as you settle into your new lifestyle. The freedom is empowering, but the lack of co-workers can be a drain on your personal happiness (or you may even be secretly relieved). I’m going to cover the top methods and resources I use to make your life abroad a breeze, whether you are just starting out or a seasoned professional.
Get your hands on a copy of this book. Written by the founders of 37signals, they delve into the challenges and unexpected benefits for working remotely. If you need help convincing your employer to let you break free from the 9-5, this book will give you the ideas to set it in motion, outlining precisely the steps you take in building a remote work setup.
The right hardware
You need a laptop, a decent internet connection and a mobile phone that you always have on. Even though you are working “remote,” you need to be accessible at all times – especially when your boss needs to get hold of you. A separate workstation from the rest of your house will also help to keep you on task while you are working, and a great headset will make it easy to answer every Skype call that comes int.
The right software
There are endless programs to assist during your telecommute. File sharing systems like Google Drive or Dropbox are great ways to share and simultaneously work on large files with your colleagues. Of course you need to regularly check your email, sign up for a free Skype account and ensure you are always online. If your clients are international, tools like The World Clock will let you schedule effective meetings in any time zone.
A strategy to be productive
Decide what it takes to keep you on track. The biggest danger in working remotely comes from distractions. You are going to need to be even more productive than your “traditional” colleagues to maintain your remote lifestyle and grow your career. Find what works for you, it can be a post-it system plastered over your monitor, or more complex tools like Evernote or Wunderlist. Personally I write down everything I hope to achieve in a day in a notebook. I prioritize the list to determine my top four goals, and split these into two each morning and two each evening. I reward myself with a break in between tasks, or ensure I get 5-10 minutes away from my computer every hour if its a longer project. Simple and easy.
It may sound trivial, but you don’t want to find yourself distanced from the office “clique.” The people you interact with everyday at the water cooler form the foundation of your professional network. If you’re not in the office, don’t miss out on everything that goes on while you’re not there. Tools like Campfire, or WhatsApp and Line groups allow colleagues to stay connected (informally). You don’t want to fade into obscurity simply because your office is in your home.
A regular way to “Get out of the house”
The lack of face-to-face social interaction when working remotely has a remarkable ability to turn a professional employee into an unshaven, unbathed neanderthal whose sole human interaction involves having the right change for the pizza delivery guy. Dont be this telecommuter. Get active in your community through Chambers of Commerce, MeetUp.com, or local sports groups and give yourself a reason to shower each day! Join a gym and ensure you get exercise three times a week. It will also help to balance your sanity and adds a nice change of scenery to your home office.
Clear guidelines and milestones
Be open with your boss and colleagues on what it is you are working on. Keep them updated with regular progress reports, and ensure they know the timelines to expect tasks to be completed. Yammer is a great way for teams to keep up to date. It’s a common misconception that working from home involves tapping away at emails while your focus is on the daily TV soap opera’s. Don’t ever give your colleagues this impression. It only takes a quick morning call or message to outline your major tasks for the day alongside the progress you made yesterday. Bring your boss and your team up to speed every morning, and they will never doubt your diligence.
A good work life balance
My final resource is more of a guideline. Remember the office should stay the office. This key fact is often forgotten by remote workers who put in a crazy amount of weekly hours because it’s so easy to log on and “just check my email”. Having your office in your home offers a huge risk for burnout, so set yourself a schedule and stick to it.
Make use of these resources and you will find that remote working is easier than ever. It’s not scary or impossible. All it takes is for you to take charge, and grab this fantastic opportunity for yourself.
Author: Travis Bennett