Remote work is a hot topic that a lot of people are interested in. It’s either people who are already working remotely and looking for better ways to be productive or people who are just interested in getting into a job or a career where you can do it.
Being a web developer is a best possible job to work remotely because all you need is a decent internet connection. It’s really cool to be able to live wherever you want, have a flexible schedule, be able to go do your hobbies whenever you want and not only on weekends.
You can find yourself at least in two situations here. Either you’re a single guy/girl, young in the industry and looking for a remote job, or you can be a parent working remotely, which is something entirely different and not always in the best way.
Sometimes I hear all those horror stories of the people that got the opportunity to work remotely but just couldn’t keep it together. They were distracted by the TV, something outside of work and they lost track of the stuff that they supposed to work on. Being remote certainly can have its challenges and feel completely different from one situation to another.
But if you still have this voice in your head telling you that you can get a lot more accomplished and do better work by yourself, here are some tips and simple things you can do to really make your experience as a remote developer meaningful and rewarding.
Tips for working remotely
- Have a commute time. No matter how strange it may sound, even if you work from home, it’s a good idea to have a commute time. Do the things that a normal person would do on the commute. You’re sort of winding up. You’re not mindlessly browsing the internet before your work, but at the same time, you’re not working too hard.
When you work in light mode your brain is sort of getting going, and then you have this 9 o’clock start time. That’s when you start working full force. You have this little ramp-up time to get things going.
- Dress nicely in the mornings. Even though you’re not going anywhere and you probably not going to see a lot of people, dressing well is a good way to feel like it’s a business day, feel like you need to get stuff done. So, try wearing a nice shirt, just to keep a business state of mind. This is your home, but this also is a job.
- Have a clear on\off times. Most remote employers allow their employees to work flexible hours. They want to get the most out of you. If you’re productive at night – be productive at night. But setting work hours will hold you accountable in the same way that dressing nicely will. It’s all about the mindset. For instance, at 9 o’clock you start your workday and at 5 o’clock you stop working. You don’t have to do housekeeping stuff during your workday. Obviously, there can be some wiggle room where you can take a break and do something for the house. That’s the beauty of having a flexible schedule like that.
- Have a very specific to do list. You need to have some sort of list of priorities where you can specify the most important things that you need to accomplish. First, I need to do this thing, second – this one, and so on… Make it a habit that the last thing that you do for the day is write down your todo list for tomorrow. Grab a cup of coffee and write down what it is that you need to get done. The thing is to get it out of your head and into your list (getting things done mindset), so when you wake up you don’t have to start thinking about it again. As long as it doesn’t stress you too much, doing this will help you to keep focused on your tasks and don’t waste time.
- Have a routine. Maintaining your time schedule helps you stay in that routine. Whatever this routine is, I think it’s important to stick to a routine because that’s what creates a self-perpetuating cycle. Just make a routine that works for you. A daily pattern of what you’re going to do during the day. Set yourself up that you know when you’re going to be productive and try to amplify that as much as you can. Plan ahead so you’re ready to be productive when your mind is at that point.
- Get a really dedicated space. If you have a family, don’t sit at the dining room table and have kids running around. There’s a mental switch that needs to happen when you walk into the apartment where you’re going to be working in. Plus, you can write that off on your taxes and it will save some money for your business.
- Have some sort of time blocking software on all your stuff. If you don’t have the self-control needed to not fall into mindless traps, you need to have a blocking app on your computer and your phone. This app won’t allow you to get sucked into things like Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook. Even if you’ll try to go to these sites, it will tell you, “Hey man, you really should be working right now.” Set it up from the time you start working to the end time. I’d even say have it on hardcore mode so you can’t possibly turn it off 🙂
- Change the atmosphere. If you’re not feeling especially productive in your dedicated space, try going to the local coffee shop or a coworking place. Once you’re there, just put on your headphones, start nice background classical music and work, it’ll help you to zone in. There has never been a time where I’ve done this and didn’t get the immediate concentration on my task. Plus, the walk to the coffee shop can be a little bit therapeutic.
- Have a wind-down time. You need to reserve some time to switch the context of what you’re doing. You can’t just jump from the high concentration of bug solving to having to calm down your raging kiddos. You need to chill out from the debugging mindset that you was into. Having some sort of way to wind down is a definitely an important thing.
These were some tips that you can implement in your remote work. I hope at least one of these suggestions will help you.
Now, let’s look at what benefits remote work provides for both employers and employees.
Benefits from the business perspective
- You don’t have to rent an office. There’s an obvious business perspective in terms of keeping rent at a minimum. An office for a small team can cost you around 1900 $ a month and that’s a considerable sum of money. Without an office, you don’t have to deal with its administration. You don’t have to think about paying stuff, dealing with bills and all that sort of things. Everybody is working from where they want to.
- Gigantic hiring pool. If you’re a remote company, you’re not limited to hiring people only from your physical location. Having people on every timezone is a little perk. There are some advantages to having an actual person in many cities. People can go to local meetups, conferences, spreading out the word. It’s a great perk for minor marketing and community action.
Other Benefits for employees
- You get to set your own schedule
- You can completely customize your working space.
- Nobody forbids you to have a pet around
- You don’t have to drive. For some people driving is just the biggest waste of time and not something they enjoy.
- You don’t have to wear pants (although it’s strongly advised 🙂 )
Of course, working remotely is not without its disadvantages, there are a lot of companies that don’t allow it at all and for good reasons.
Problems of remote work
- Losing social motivation. When working in the office you always have something that needs to happen. You need to see someone, talk to this person, discuss something with that person. It becomes a lot harder to get started if you don’t have any established routine.
- You don’t want to leave the house anymore. That’s definitely a negative thing. Even going to the grocery store sometimes can feel like the biggest task in the world. You haven’t shaved in a week and basically turned into a hermit. The social isolation is totally something that you can experience. So, go for bike rides in the morning, get some exercise, see some people. You need to make sure that you go out and interact with other human beings.
- You work too much. Sometimes it’s really hard to disconnect from work. The nice thing about going to the office is that when you leave it, you’re done. You physically can’t work anymore. But if you work from home, your office is always there, your computer is always there. You could always get pinged by a colleague or get a work email. What you can do here is to make appointments with your friends and get out of your office.
- Constant interruptions. It’s one thing when you are young and don’t have a family, you can sit at home by yourself all day having zero interruptions. But what if you have a family and you work from home? You get a lot more interruptions and they’re going to come no matter what. You just have to deal with them.
- People at the office can judge you. Oh, that Bob, he doesn’t do anything. Cause they just don’t see him working like everybody else they don’t see his face at the meetings, he is left out of water cooler conversions. It can be very frustrating.
- Insurance and taxes. If you’re a business owner dealing with insurance and taxes can be challenging. The health insurance isn’t the easiest thing in the world. If, for example, the company is in San Francisco and you’re in the New York, you can get into a situation where you’re getting paid your salary and at the end of the year, they say: “By the way, you owe the entire year of taxes on that salary.
Those things are challenges that you may have that an office with no remote workers wouldn’t have.
Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. But I firmly believe that the productivity of your remote work is all about the environment and setting yourself up for success. As remote web developers, we don’t need much. Laptop, coffee machine, decent internet connection, suitable workplace and we’re good to go. All the hard work must be done in our minds.
So, take small steps, focus on the right priorities and you’ll never be disappointed in your experience of working remotely.
If you’re interested in knowing more, here are some great books about working remotely.