On Working Remotely

I’ve been working remotely for 3 years now.Β The idea of working remotely is not new, but it is becoming a possibility for more people every day. The adventure has been full of lessons both personal and professional.

At first, I found it difficult to get things done. After all, there was nobody expecting to see my body in a chair between certain hours and I didn’t have to worry about my boss popping in while I was reading Hacker News… again.

(Truth be told, I just recently met my boss in person for the first time. Weird, right?)

I also found it nearly impossible to focus for a full 8-hour workday and was certain I’d be fired should anyone discover this fact.

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve learned a great deal about what I must do to be a reliable, trustworthy, and productive team member.

Some of the personal lessons I’ve found most valuable are:

  1. Stop thinking about hours. Spending a full 8 hours in your office chair doesn’t matter; getting things done matters.
  2. Don’t become a hermit. I’ve found it far too easy to spiral when I’m home alone for days on end. To combat this, I make sure to get out of the house every single day. Going to the gym and working from coffee shops and coworking spaces helps.
  3. Develop a routine. Get dressed each day, exercise, eat well, and get consistent and adequate sleep. While it may be funny to consider that you can work professionally while in your underpants, I assure you the novelty wears off quickly. πŸ˜…

And some of the professional lessons I’ve found most valuable are:

  1. Honor your commitments. If you tell your team you’ll finish a task by the end of the week, make sure that actually happens. If you’re often delivering things late, you may want to consider padding your estimates. As ridiculous as this may sound, I pad my time estimates by 50% because I often underestimate the work involved with most tasks.
  2. Determine which team members you can depend on. Knowing who honors their commitments and who doesn’t can be valuable. The takeaway here is not to turn from less reliable teammates, but rather to work with them to provide better estimates.
  3. Take charge of your professional growth. If you want more responsibility, let your boss know which specific areas you’d like to focus on. If you want to attend a conference, just ask politely. If you feel you deserve more compensation, prepare a plan that will make that happen and share it with your boss.
  4. Be gracious, patient, and understanding. It’s far too easy for misunderstandings to manifest when the bulk of communication happens via chat and email. Remember to default to a humble stance. If you’re feeling angry or frustrated, it’s probably best to call those involved and talk through the situation.

I’ve been growing more thankful for this opportunity with each passing day. Working remotely was frustrating and lonely at first, but I now appreciate the immense freedom it offers.

And who knows… maybe this new flavor of working will become the norm one day.

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Curt May 1, 2018 Reply

It is good advice and experience sharing. I had Hunter read it.

Graham Swan May 1, 2018 Reply

Thanks Curt, good to hear!

Garu clark April 30, 2018 Reply

I did it for 7 years – great advice – wish I had known then….

Graham Swan May 1, 2018 Reply

I think, like many things, these lessons must be learned personally over time. I remember reading article upon article about remote work when I started, but the lessons didn’t really ring true until quite recently.

Jonathan April 30, 2018 Reply

Nicely done, Graham!

Graham Swan May 1, 2018 Reply

Cheers! 😊

Mom April 30, 2018 Reply

Well said Graham. πŸ’™ Underpants!! 🀣

Graham Swan May 1, 2018 Reply

I bet you never thought you’d be reading about your 32-year-old son working in his underpants, hey? πŸ˜‚

Mom May 1, 2018 Reply

Nope! Sure didn’t!! 🀣

Glen April 30, 2018 Reply

Enjoy your ✍️

Graham Swan May 1, 2018 Reply

Thanks Glen, much appreciated! πŸ˜„

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