Written by: Courtney Boone, Senior Software Developer, FWI
Working for a company remotely can be challenging. I've found this out first-hand through first working for my company in their main office, then transitioning to a full-time remote position, working in different states. I've been lucky enough to have the flexibility to explore every opportunity for myself, both in and out of the office and I've found that like anything, the remote working lifestyle has its good sides and bad sides. So, whether you're considering going remote or already live that life and want some extra tips from a peer, I've compiled some helpful knowledge below:
- No commuting gives you more time in the day.
- Easier access to food means you can just eat what you have at home.
- Having an off day and don't feel like getting cleaned up for work? Don't.
- Happier pets (for pet lovers). They aren't alone all day without you.
- Extra flexible work hours mean you don’t need to get time out of the office approved to run errands.
- Can end up working too much. The home and the office are the same place.
- What I call anti-socialization syndrome. English is hard and communication is harder.
- Depression from not getting out of the house or getting exercise.
- People at work forget about you because they don't see you. You can be left out of important discussions.
- Meetings sound like alien transmissions from deep space. It can be hard to understand what's happening in a meeting room over the phone.
Now, with all of that in mind, remote life isn't something that can be related to in-office life at all. At first, it was frustrating for me to not know that and to try to treat remote life the same way I treated office life. The thing that makes them so different? Having that attendance schedule for in-office life makes it easier to structure the rest of your life without really trying; you just have to organize your life around work. Remote life isn't like that because it has no structure on its own and if you're not careful, work and personal time will become the same thing, meaning you can lose the ability to give your mind and body what it needs to stay refreshed and to succeed at your endeavors. When you're not taking care of your needs, it can be hard to stay motivated. Based on my own experiences, I've compiled a list of tips to help you stay motivated and to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Tips for Succeeding in Remote Life
- Set goals for when to start and stop work in a given day. These hours can vary as much as you want, daily even, but have a plan for each day before you start it, so you know your "office hours" in the beginning. Make a point to meet those times you set for yourself, even if that means setting alarms or adding events to your calendar. The point of this? Structure. It doesn't have to be a daily routine (unless you just like it that way) but you do need to have some kind of structure.
- Know who you are and become passionate about something that isn't work. Preferably something that isn't even remotely (haha—get it?) related to your job at all. Give yourself a reason to put down that laptop and stop, stop, stop working. Please for the love of all things wonderful, STOP. WORKING.
- Make time to exercise. You'd be surprised how much walking you're missing out on by not having to get ready in the morning or walk around an office. The body needs exercise to be healthy and an unhealthy body makes an unhealthy mind. If you have a dog, perfect. Get some long walks in during the day. If you don't have a dog, walk anyway. Even better, get a gym routine and go pump some iron, do some yoga, swim in the pool near your home or even run. Heck, you can go all out if you want. Get a dog, go on runs, walk with them throughout the day AND go to the gym. And take martial arts classes or something.
- Get out of your house. If you can't do that then at least give yourself an office space that is not the same as your living space and forget that office space exists when you're not "at work." Never leaving your home will make you depressed. It's like being stuck in a cage. And nobody wants that.
- Make a point to cover the hygiene basics. I know that the dog/cat/whatever are the only creatures that see you on a daily basis and they don't care what you look like, but you should. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll end up looking and feeling bad.
- Don't be afraid to schedule your main work times for when your body naturally operates at its best. If your brain juices are most lively between 1 am and 4 am then get your work done then. Being available during normal office hours for the purposes of communication and getting your personal set of work done are different things. Do what feels best for you and your lifestyle. Just make sure you're around when people need you.
- Try to make a point to keep up good relationships with coworkers. If you used to have a fun chat with the same person over coffee every morning when you were in the office, send that person a message every morning for that chat still. It also helps for them to get more from you than "I need this or that." Maintaining good relationships with coworkers while working remotely will help them think of you in a good way when important things are coming up and make it less likely that you'll be the last to know important information.
At the end of the day, remote life is great, but too much flexibility can be bad. You have to be proactive about what you want for yourself in your daily life (both inside and outside of work) and have the gumption to make it happen.