You’ve probably read or heard about working remotely a dozen times. From the abundant of bloggers writing about independent location lifestyle or maybe from someone you know who’s living as a digital nomad.
I’ve been enjoying the life like a free bird. After working for more than 10 years in an office environment, I finally got out of my comfort zone and chose a new career that gives me the freedom to work anywhere and anytime. I’ve been given an opportunity to have a stable job, earn money and of course, travel whenever I can without worrying too much about my work schedule.
As I’ve adapted myself to this lifestyle, I thought I’d share my thoughts on what I’ve observed so far and what you should anticipate if you’re considering making the shift from the office to working remotely.
1. You’ll start hearing these from your family, friends (and even from strangers)
Prepare yourself from these common sentiments that you will hear often from the people around you.
- “I’m so jealous of all the free time you must have.”– Like people assume that someone who works remotely isn’t busy like them.
- “I’m jealous that you can work whenever you want!” – Ummm yeah, but I still follow a schedule; otherwise I won’t get things done.
- “You must get so much housework done during the day!” – Nope, I’m not cleaning the house or doing the laundry all day!
- “So, since you’re schedule is flexible, can you come to mom’s doctor’s appointment/babysit my kids/run errands for me? – Because they think you have all the time in the world.
- “I could never handle working alone all day. I’d go insane!” – Yes, the feeling of isolation is there, but I don’t let it overcome me and working remotely enables me to concentrate more on my task.
2. Working remotely is not always rainbows and unicorns
Some people might think that it’s easy, but just like working in an office, working remotely comes with its share of challenges. You may have the liberty to work anywhere and the flexible work schedule sounds awesome, but you also have to cope up with some struggles that you need to first resolve all by yourself. Although most of the challenges have minimal effects, there are times that a remote worker can find himself in a major situation in which it can be overwhelming. Here are some of the difficulties that I’ve encountered so far:
- Finding a comfortable and laptop friendly work space when travelling
- Slow to sometimes no internet connection – this feels like a horror story
- Keeping myself fit and healthy (sitting most of the day and eating easy-to-prepare unhealthy foods)
- Reaching out to team members spread across different time zone and locations
- Getting my salary on time (it was the money transfer company’s mistake just to be clear)
Do you want to know how to overcome these challenges? Please read my article here
3. Communication is very important
There’s a common wrong idea when it comes to remote workers that everyone is self employed living off their internet businesses with no ties to actual organisations. This is simply not true. The majority of remote workers are employed individuals working for some companies across the globe. Most of us are tied to a business with a team clocking in a fairly standard eight hour work day. This is why remote employees must have good communication strategies to survive and thrive.
- Email is the number one tool to communicate, so always be clear and to the point.
- Nobody can see your facial reaction and body language so you must learn how to express yourself effectively in writing.
- Being sociable isn’t necessary and a perfect speaker isn’t needed all the time, but learn how to pass the message precisely.
- You’ll be asking questions and clarifications about a project or task, don’t ever hesitate.
- Always make sure that you understand instructions.
- Update your reporting manager on your progress for the day.
- If possible, request for daily catch up calls and monthly overview video-call meeting.
4. Nobody cares what you wear and how you look
It’s the most overused and popular working-remotely perk. But it’s actually true, because not having to put on your office attire every morning is a huge plus when you’re working remotely. Aside from the absolute comfort factor, not having to try on outfit after outfit, put on make-up, shave, groom, and everyday preparation saves you a good five to six hours every week.
- Strict dress code policy is over and gone are the days that you have to look sharp all week.
- You can say goodbye to ugly uniforms
- No more colour coordinated Fridays!
- Working in your pajamas becomes the new norm
- Your wardrobe will be full of shirts and shorts
- Who cares if your hair is a mess or if you haven’t showered for days?
- Nobody cares if you wear the same clothes over and over
I’d like to point out though that you shouldn’t neglect your personal hygiene; its basic knowledge. I’ve also read that some people who work remotely are still dressing up to feel motivated. I guess it all depends on what makes us feel good.
5. Flexibility comes with responsibility
It may feel like you are you own boss, but the flexibility you enjoy as a remote worker comes with duties and responsibilities. Yes, you’re the boss when it comes to your work schedule and location, but you’re also the IT guy, the supervisor, and the administrative assistant. There is no one around to help you so always remember the following:
- Deadlines are meant to be met – keep this in mind
- Being reliable and available is always a must – stable internet service is a priority
- Work independently and with no supervision – nobody is looking over your shoulder
- Just me, myself and I – do things on your own
- You should learn to self-manage
6. Saving money is easier
It was very difficult for me to save money before, but since I started working remotely, I realized that I could save more money for my travel goals.
- Like, I don’t need to spend too much on my daily lunch and overrated morning coffee to start my day.
- I don’t need to travel to work every day, so I could save transportation money. That’s a chuck of monthly savings from not spending money on fare or fuel.
- Just choose to settle in a venue where internet is available and I can work peacefully on my own.
- I don’t need to buy new clothes, shoes and makeup to primp and prime as I can work wearing whatever free and easy.
7. You can’t waste time
As most new remote workers observe, working remotely isn’t always perfect; in fact, some may end up wasting time in more than one area, and if you aren’t careful, you could seriously jeopardize your overall productivity. If you want to hold yourself accountable for getting your work done, you’ll need some kind of time-based backbone. It’s a good idea to adhere to some kind of schedule.
- Most of the time, I work 8 hours straight, just like when I was in the office.
- If I woke up late, I bounce between tasks, and end up working until late at night to fit everything in.
- Sometimes, I split the work hours throughout the day to give myself time to run some errands.
- I do work for a few hours on weekends to compensate on those times that I missed during the week, to be paid in full.
8. Get ready to be isolated
There’s no doubt that I enjoy my remote work, although after a few months into my new chosen field, working away from office and social environment, I kind of felt strange and isolated. The isolation consisted of the following:
- Working on my own for the full day
- Communicating with team only over email, chat or voice call.
- No more unexpected desk visits from co-workers and impromptu meetings in the hallway.
- A reduced number of visits to see friends
- Working later and unsocial times
- No office pals to grab lunch with every day
- No after-work beer with colleagues
Someone who works remotely may choose to work alone in their home on occasion, but remember that that’s not our only option. To alleviate the feeling of confinement and being left off, coffee shops, libraries, and coworking spaces are exceedingly popular among remote workers.
9. No more IT department
In an office, the minute the Internet goes down or your computer froze, you always call the Help Desk, and voila, it’s someone else’s problem. When you’re working remotely, it’s all you.
- You could end up wasting several hours, even days, waiting for the cable guy to fix your internet or trying to explain your issues to customer service.
- Google is your new “go-to-guy” when you stumble upon something unusual on your laptop
Always have a backup plan for when things like this happen and invest in a good laptop and anti-virus software. Any of these situations can be very frustrating, however these also teach us to be patient and be self-reliant.
10. Distraction is everywhere so stay focused!
From errands, chores, and personal responsibilities, distraction is everywhere when you’re working remotely full-time or freelance. Aside from these, websites and other online activities are also tempting when you’re working without someone physically monitoring you and telling you to wrap it up and get back to work!
Honestly, it can be very hard to stay focused on your work when you have these online distractions. It’s easy to say “just turn it off” or “just quit it”, but research shows that it’s not at all easy to do. Our brains crave the rewards triggered by digital distractions – the tiny hits of dopamine that keep us checking, responding, nibbling away.
What can you do?
- Allocate time for errands, chores and things that can affect your productivity.
- Set a boundary between your personal responsibilities and work.
- Put away your mobile phone unless you need it for work
- Use a website blocker like Freedom app to block websites and apps or the entire internet if you want to. With your distractions blocked, you can get into your workflow and stay on task.
11. You may feel like you’re relaxing at home – but you’re not!
Unless you leave home to go to a coffee shop, coworking space or travel while working, it can be difficult to separate work from your regular life when you’re working remotely from home because you both relax and work in the same place. And while working from home, the sight of your bed is a constant reminder to lie down and rest. It’s easy to start mixing work and leisure, but it’s best not to.
- Separate your work space from your resting place.
- Working while you’re propped against pillows is great, but if you’re working from your bed it can become more difficult to fall asleep since your brain will think you’re in a place of work.
- Or it can be hard to work because your brain will think you’re in a place for sleep.
- If you have a spare room at your house, or even just a corner, turn it into your own little office.
- You might want to stay away from the TV room or unsubscribe from Netflix if needed!
12. Now the best part – Travelling becomes easier!
The best advantage of working remotely is the ability to travel more. The location and time flexibility allow a remote worker to work anywhere. From handy laptops to modern software that allows us to communicate smoothly, working remotely and travelling is indeed one of the best work-life balance goals.
- You’ll be always on the lookout for affordable flights and promo airfares
- More time to travel while enjoying the fruits of your labour
- Use your freedom to change your venue
- Working remotely gives us the opportunity to earn money while exploring the world
- We gain new friends when we travel
- Travel takes us to a whole new level of life experience
My Final Thoughts
Working remotely is not for everyone – and that’s totally OK!
It may be that the least-talked about aspect of working remotely is the reality that it’s not for everybody. There are two sides to every coin, and the same goes for remote work. While remote work has many advantages, it’s not for everyone.
- Some may simply lack the individual drive and attention that working remotely demands.
- Some people do not have the right attitude it requires to adapt in an entirely new work environment, especially if a person is working from home full of distractions.
- Other people simply can’t perform well without the ambience of the traditional office and the casual chitchat with their office buddies.
For whatever reason, the fact is not all of us are suited to remote work – and that’s fine.
What’s important is to give yourself enough time to weigh up whether it works for you or not. Sure, the adjustment won’t be easy, but if you give it a fair shot, who knows it might work out. But if you feel that it really isn’t for you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
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