Remote working a survival guide

Written By Graeme White
Posted On November 14, 2016

That horrible commute on cold buses, cramped trains and slow moving traffic is gone. No more catty office politics and you now have full control over your lunch, no longer bound to eateries within walking distance of the office.

But with any perks we can think of, remote working (like anything) has some dis-advantages. Hopefully some of the simple things I’ve learnt over the years will help you avoid some common pitfalls.

Cabin fever

Having worked from my home now for 5 years the biggest fundamental issue I’ve encountered is the social element. If you don’t have meetings with clients or colleagues then that bedroom study/office can become all too familiar and quite lonely.

We are after all social creatures and solitary working can lead to an unpleasant loneliness where you miss the camaraderie office working can offer.

I’ve found one of the simplest things I could do to stave off those home working blues was getting to a quiet cafe for an hour. Even though I didn’t sit with or engage with anyone just a short time out the house, in the company of others, made a big difference.

cabin in the woods

The next step up was seeking out local co-working and hot desking areas. Remote working is becoming really popular so it is likely we will be seeing more initiatives and funky work spaces opening their doors.

Meetups have also proven invaluable in seeking out teams and events that boosted my social deficit. Locally I found groups that met to work on I.T projects and freelancing groups that met over lunch to talk all things freelance with like-minded folk.

These led to a few of us actually starting our own co-working meet-up group which has led to several sessions working and having lunch with other remote workers with the added advantage that you are not bound to the place or people so any personal issues don’t have to be tolerated like a negative colleague in daily office attendance.

Going to the gym, going for a run or even just going for a walk is also important, but this really isn’t just for remote working, being sat at a computer all day is pretty dangerous, ‘healthy mind healthy body’ is not just a nice play on words.

It’s good to talk

Working remotely means you probably don’t have your boss or client breathing down your neck, a perk for sure, but communication is all the more important.

Slack has been absolutely brilliant for me to keep in direct contact with my employer and clients, they can find out quickly what I am up to and I can always communicate any issues / concerns. I’ve worried at times that I am sending too many updates, but as my boss says ‘people would rather get too much communication rather than none at all’.

Get a plant

Seriously, it may sound daft, but since you are working from home why not prettify your workspace with some fauna. Studies have shown that a bit of greenery can make people more productive and if nothing more that plant makes the place look nice and cleans the air, remember you are going to be spending a fair amount of time at that desk.

A very cool tedx talk on replacing mechanical office ventilation with plants can be found here.

Record your hours

If not for your boss or client then do this for yourself so you can actually see how many hours you are spending sat at that computer, you might see patterns in certain areas of your work, identify bottlenecks, even find weaknesses in certain tasks you could fix with subcontracting.

Two apps I have used which I would recommend are freeagent and harvestapp

watch timer

If nothing else knowing how long you’ve been working can help you attain a better work/life balance and that is key, after all why are you working in the first place?

Graeme White
A front-end Web Developer specialising in WordPress
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