Working remotely isn’t for everyone. But there are ways you can prepare yourself to help make sure it’s the right fit.
My first alarms of the day are 7:20am and 8:00am. These are the last remnants of my scheduling before I became a remote employee. The first alarm was a standard “time to get up” call, and the second, my “get your ass to the subway before you’re packed like a sardine” reminder.
For most of my adult life, I lived within a 15-20 minute walk from my place of study or work. Pretty spoiled, by commuter standards in Downtown Toronto. With some recent changes in my personal life, it became apparent that coming into the office every day was not an option for me.
Thankfully, Climax Media fosters the type of culture and attitude that accommodates working remotely. They understand that sometimes life happens, and rather than write off the work day, why not work from home? Keep the productivity wheel turning.
Of course this notion comes with a couple expectations: Firstly, be responsible. Let your team (and HR) know with as much advance notice that you’ll be out of the office. Second, don’t abuse your privileges (this one is pretty self explanatory).
However, working from home – or in my case, being a fully remote employee – is not for everyone. Here are some insights (and pieces of advice) I can relay for those who ask themselves: is the grass greener on the other side?
Like any other activity, working from home is a skill. Not everyone is good at it, not everyone will acquire it, but with determination you can perform well. The challenge of working from home is breaking from your daily routine – which is why creating a new routine is my first piece of advice.
Proceed with your regular scheduling. The same way you’d set an alarm to wake up, prepare your meals, or schedule transit; working from home shouldn’t obliterate these guidelines. At home, your would-be-commute time becomes “just another 20 minutes in bed”, or a leisurely coffee that somehow leads to morning Netflix. It happens to the best of us. Commit yourself to specific timelines and goals. Task-orientation is the simplest way to keep yourself organized, especially when there are plenty of distractions.
This might seem like a strange piece of advice, but it’s effective. Whether you are an evening-before or morning-of bather, it’s important to ready yourself for the day. Rolling out of bed and onto the computer is sluggish behaviour. It enables you to laze around until the very last moment prior to productivity. Put on some fresh clothes – you never know if you’ll need to step out of the house at a moment’s notice, or take a slack video call.
Creating a comfortable at-home workstation makes all the difference. If you foresee yourself working from home often, invest in a solid chair, desk, and buy that extra monitor – whatever you need to emulate your ideal office setup. Another thing to keep in mind is Plan B: where will you work if your home situation is compromised? (ie. Fire alarm, power outage, WiFi disconnects, etc). Is there a local coffee shop or coworking office you can transfer to? Will you venture into the office? When the aforementioned blockers happen in-office, it’s generally excusable (albeit frustrating) because it affects the entire company. However, when you are working from home, you need to be accessible
If you find yourself struggling to work from home effectively, take the day off instead of compromising your workflow. This might mean using a vacation day, but why stress yourself out (and negatively impact your team) when you can return to your status quo tomorrow. Even as a remote employee, I’ve found myself migrating to the office when necessary.
To answer the question above: the grass is not always greener. The decision to become a remote employee was very circumstantial for me. My own schedule and commitments required a bit of flexibility; time saved from not commuting was invested elsewhere. Work-life balance became more manageable for me, personally. However, working from home has its drawbacks:
* As a developer, having physical devices available is preferable for thorough testing. There are online emulators (ie. Browserstack) but nothing compares to the real thing.
* Human interaction. A simple smile or “good morning” from a coworker; having someone to grab lunch with, or break for coffee; these gestures and activities are things I miss most about coming into the office.
* Movement. It wasn’t apparent, but my physical activity declined dramatically when I started working from home.
When exercised correctly, working from home can have huge benefits. The tips above are not gospel, but can help maintain your personal success. With time you’ll get into the groove.