DevHealth

The future of work is remote

July 20, 2019

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Telecommuting or remote work is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel (e.g. by bus or car) to a central place of work, such as an office building, warehouse, or store (Wikipedia).

There are two types of remote work: one is settling down in a place and the other is to travel, being a “digital nomad”.

Beach lady laptop

Being location independent is a great way to work, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

We’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of being a remote worker. You’ll also find out how to make remote work happen and improve productivity.

Benefits

Studies along remote workers show that the benefits of remote work outweigh the drawbacks. The biggest perk workers see, when working from home, is the saved commute time.

Remote work offers an option of spending more time with family and friends as well as working from any location.

By eliminating distractions, you can also produce deep work and improve productivity.

Drawbacks

One of the drawbacks of telecommuting is the lack of contact with the coworkers, as you are isolated in the environment. It’s crucial to have clear work-life boundaries and enjoy social activities in free time.

Unplugging from work is another struggle of remote workers, especially if working from home office. Having a separate workspace can help remedy this and establish a “home office” feeling. Once you are out of the office, your workday is finished.

You need the discipline to resist entertaining in the distractions that exist in the house like watching TV, playing games or doing chores. Maybe this is only me, but I love procrastinating with cleaning instead of doing the work.

Tips & Tricks

Communication

As a remote worker, you don’t share the office with coworkers and because of that, you need to communicate well. In order to achieve that, you should keep the communication transparent and avoid private messages if the topic concerns the whole team.

Remember, overcommunicating is always better than making assumptions. If you are a team leader, remember to appreciate and emphasize the good work of your colleagues.

To simulate “watercooler chat” in the physical offices, some remote companies organize video conference calls called “virtual coffee breaks”, where you discuss non-job related topics.

Many teams appreciate “bursty communication”, which is a period where there is back and forth, synchronous communication. This can be difficult with remote teams in different timezones, so be adaptable. Quick daily or weekly syncs can help the team remain focused and on track.

If you share home with family members, make sure to communicate your working hours and establish a schedule. And if you don’t, your kids will be featured on national TV.

Tools

Instant message client such as Slack or Microsoft Teams is an essential part of the remote worker toolbox.

Because face to face communication with non-verbal cues is much better than just text messages, leverage the video meeting features of these tools or use a separate, dedicated app such as Zoom or Appear.in.

Finding remote work

There are two types of remote work companies: a fully remote company and a company that accepts remote workers. It’s much easier to be in a fully remote company, because all the company values and processes are geared towards location independent workers.

If you have an existing job, feel free to ask your employer for a remote work arrangement.

There are some well-known companies in the tech scene that are either fully remote or allow remote workers. The most known ones are Automattic (the company behind Wordpress), GitLab, Buffer, Trello, Stripe, etc. You can find remote job offers on the We Work Remotely job board.

To get a sense of how to work remotely while still keeping a day job, you can try participating in an open-source project.

Conclusion

As Buffer report says, “remote work is not a trend — it’s here to stay”. Its advantages outperform the negatives. Also, to get the best people for the job, companies need to look outside their headquarters city.

Resources


Janez Cadez

Refactor your life. Improve mental health, avoid burnout and practise self-care. Written by Janez Čadež. Proofread by Tina Petan.