Working Remote: Is it for everyone?
Working remotely is becoming more feasible as technology enhancements continue to digitize every aspect of our environments. Over the past 8 years I have integrated some version of working remotely, whether it be after hours on call, one day a week, or even a full time remote position as I am here. With all those experiences I’ve learned some valuable best practices that help me be successful when working with others far far away.
The most important question to ask is if your personality type is a good fit for working remotely. Are you self motivated? Can you focus on your work if you’re setup at your home? Do you need other people around you physically throughout the day? These are important to answer honestly as some people may require the constant energy of others in their day to motivate and energize them to be successful at their job.
As for me, I’m very self motivated and I’m diligent about planning out my weekly schedule so I know exactly what needs to be done. I’d also consider myself on the introvert end of the spectrum but I still require daily interactions with other human beings. I’ve worked remotely 100% of the time for the past 2 years and it’s been a great fit for me. I keep a few simple rules that help me stay focused on “on-the-job.”
How to Make It Work
- Have a dedicated “work” office setup with reliable internet. I work from home and there is truth that being able to seperate home life from work life is vital. Having my own office makes it easier to get into work mode and sitting in my desk is like sitting with my team several states away. My desk is setup with all the equipment I need including fast internet and a wireless headset to help ensure seamless web conference experiences.
- Utilize Video Conferencing. Not only did video kill the radio star, it’s killing the phone as well. And for good reason. Seeing the people you’re talking to adds so much more to our communication and is vital for “seeing” all the messages. At Brunch Digital we use video conferencing for every meeting. We can see facial reactions, body positioning, and even when people start tuning out.
- Create a schedule and stick to it. This is key for setting expectations of availability to help eliminate any frustrations that may occur with teammates who NEED you. I’m online by 6am everyday and peel off around 4/5pm. This makes it manageable for teammates to know when to set up meetings and allows them to plan their days to get the most out of remote collaboration.
- Take a break. This goes for in office people as well but I need to get up and move around every hour or two to keep the blood flowing and the brain thinking. Little things like filling up my water or making that second coffee gives me that much needed minute away from my screen. Also, most people need some amount of social interaction and I make getting to the gym over lunch a priority not only to get some physical activity in but also to interact with people not through technology.
- Communicate! Both active and passive communication is really the key element to being successful with working remotely. When in person it’s easy to know if someone is at their desk or not because you can see them. Remote is completely different. We utilize Slack and it’s great because people can see when I’m available and I can keep up to speed with what’s going on in the office by reading updates along the way. I am diligent about setting away and busy status notifications (even to make a cup of coffee) which it makes it effortless to collaborate on day to day tasks and needs with coworkers. Everyone has direct access to each other for quick questions or even the ever-so-perfect Giphy reactions for some remote comradery. If a chat is leading into something more in-depth, we fire up video call (Ring Central integrates with Slack that can auto generate a meeting room on the fly) to discuss further.
Those are the general guidelines that have helped me be successful working remotely full-time. The last piece of advice I’d offer would be to ensure onsite visits to the office with teammates. There is still no true substitute for human interaction than being in the same physical location together. At least not yet.
Andrew Dederich is a Senior Web Developer at Brunch Digital.