Ahhh… the internet -- what would we do without it? Because of the internet, remote jobs are popping up everywhere.
Before CloudApp, the closest thing I had to a remote job was designing t-shirts online. Now that I have full-time experience being a remote worker with CloudApp, I have run into things I would love to talk about with you. This blog post is not meant to scare you away from remote work, but to give you a heads up of what you're in for, mistakes to avoid, and how to get better.
1. Working Environment
Don’t always work from home. Working from home too much can get lonely, and you may be tempted to stay in your PJs and sit on the couch to work. It can be a good way to be the least productive.
Do go to cafes, the library, or find out if there are any free workspaces in the area. I escape to the Innovation Center in Kelowna, BC twice a week to change things up and feel more productive on my “off days”. It really does help.
Try not to work at cafes too much, as it may get costly. If you feel pretty productive there, opt for a tea instead, and not that super expensive half sweet, almond milk, extra hot caramel macchiato.
Don’t leave your tasks or assignments for the day up in the air. If you leave most tasks to the last minute, you will eventually feel overwhelmed with how many things start piling up by the end of the week. I have made the mistake of not working on tasks at least a little bit every day, and it always comes back to bite me.
Do plan your tasks before or early in the morning the same day. I recently watched a webinar where Manny Medina, the CEO of Outreach said: “My best Sales Reps are the ones that show up early and strategically plan what they are going to do that day”.
Start out by setting 3 goals for yourself per day. Keep your goals simple with not too many details; it can be overwhelming at first when you set down too many goals, and stress does not always help productivity.
If you want more advice on being organized, Ben Adamski wrote a great blog post on “7 Secrets to Really Good Time Management”.
Don’t wear your PJs all the time. I mean, if you’re productive when you’re wearing the most comfortable clothing, with a hot cup of something with a nice smelling lit candle… okay, I’m falling asleep.
Do have a shower and get dressed, if that’s something that makes you feel good. According to a Scientific Medical article “Studies show that the clothes you wear can affect your mental and physical performance.” Now, this doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit, just wear something that makes you feel good and the most productive. You never know when a customer or your boss might want to hop on a video call with you.
Don’t become a hermit and hide from the world. I’m not saying it’s bad to be an introvert. In fact, I am an introvert, and I love staying home, but I find it’s really healthy once in a while to get out that door.
Do go to events or Meetups where you can get inspiration from other people. One thing that I want to do more is to go to Accelerate Okanagan StartUp Drinks, where I can meet the local tech community, receive advice, or make new friends. I’m going to try not to get ahead of myself; StartUp Drinks are usually pretty spread out, so it’s not as overwhelming as going out every week. If you really want to be hardcore with networking, try to make plans with people you meet at these events or Meetups -- this will definitely get you out of the house more, and you may learn a thing two from those people or professionals. Just try to work out a balance between a social life and hermit crab time.
Don’t be scared to speak with your colleagues throughout the day. You may be a country away from the main office, but that doesn’t mean you should be scared of reaching out for advice or just having a good chat.
Do speak with colleagues, and check in with them at least once per day. People that work far away from the head office should take advantage of tools like Slack, email, or Zoom Video Conferencing to get a second opinion on something, ask questions, and give your manager updates on what you’re focusing on.
I live in Canada and work for a company that is based in San Francisco. I can honestly say without a doubt that we have the best communication because we send each other comments, screenshots, and videos using Slack and CloudApp throughout the day -- I never feel alone or disconnected.
For those of you that work for yourself, you should have a few go-to-people that you can reach out to for a second opinion or someone you can talk to throughout the day. It’s okay if you’re not super social and you’re fine not speaking to people for weeks on end, but for some, it can be a very necessary thing to get a second opinion.
Don’t be a couch potato. I know how it feels -- your work day is over and you want to reward yourself with a little couch time and a good Netflix show. Put down that remote before it turns into a pizza night with the suspenseful last episode of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. That show is so weird, but I love it!
Do get some exercise! I know… this is an uphill battle - I still struggle with it sometimes, but a little 30-minute walk never hurt anyone. One of my personal goals is to start moving faster on my walks, and eventually getting up to a running pace. Oh... is it ever hard, but very necessary for our sanity, body, and soul.
Much love, and keep being awesome my friends!
PS. I would love to hear your thoughts on your favorite GIF. Please comment share, or add me on LinkedIn and reach out anytime. :)
If you are an engineer, here is my coworker’s tips on remote engineering.