Remote work is the ability to work on a computer from any location that has a strong WiFi connection. You can choose to be a digital nomad like Jon Brown or you can work in a dedicated office or co-working space. Remote work removes the commute at the very least.
For me, I went from being an office manager, to working 80% remotely for an advertising agency, to being 100% freelance. I not only left the office, but I left the time-selling culture that comes with salaries. True freedom is charging for the work, not your time.
The current situation isn’t bad for remote work
It accelerates people toward the benefits
– no commute
– output over time
– increased efficiency
– control of environment
It shows how far we’re away from having a great remote setup
Office-first can *never* get these benefits
— Chris Herd (@chris_herd) March 13, 2020
I have plenty of tips from my experience both working in offices since I was fourteen years old to working remotely since 2015.
Remote Work Isn’t For Everyone
Steve Zehngut says all of the time, “Remote work isn’t for everyone.” He said it again today on WPwatercooler. If you choose to work remotely, take a deep dive into your psyche and figure out if you have what it takes. Strong boundary settings, communication skills, and accountability are important for remote employees.
Freelancers and small business owners also need an instinct for boundaries, communication, and accountability. Your clients are your bosses in some regards. Ultimately, you should be accountable to yourself.
Remote Work isn’t Hard
People seem to think this would be super hard. I get asked by almost everyone I know,
“How do you like working from home? Is it hard?”
I like it. It’s not that hard.
Yes, I had some trouble at first. But it was about expectations – mine, my late husband’s, and those of my friends.
Remote Work is About Setting Boundaries
It used to drive me crazy that my late husband listened to talk radio at volume 11 all day long. Did I mention it was all day long? Yes. All. Day. Long. But I got headphones, closed my office door, and listened to Pandora.Remote work is a real job. Protect your boundaries with friends and family. Click To Tweet
Friends, especially stay-at-home moms could not understand why I couldn’t go to three-hour lunches. I have said, for the last five years, “because I’m working.” I used to be very upset. I now know it is on me to set my boundaries and keep them.
I now work half days on Fridays. After my blogging time block on Friday afternoons, I can hang out with my friends. Or Saturday. Saturdays are for three-hour lunches.
Does it always work? No. It can be frustrating or you can just keep explaining that you’re working. Don’t allow people to guilt you into playing hooky. You’ll regret it. Learn from my mistakes.
Remote Work Is Real Work
I am a freelancer. I am accountable. I have clients. I have tasks. It’s true that I no longer charge for my time (unless you buy a consult), but the work still has to be done. If I delay my work, I let myself down.
If you treat remote work like a part-time job, you’ll get part-time results. This is especially true if you don’t manage time well. Your supervisor or clients have to trust that you’re working.
Remote Office Mentality
Being a remote work is a mentality. Have a dedicated area for work. I have the cutest office area. Before I rented out my second bedroom, my office was there. Now, it’s in a dedicated place. Everyone (neighbors, roommates, friends) knows that if I am sitting at my desk I am working.
You do what you practice. Posture makes a difference in my mental attitude. It matters — at least to me. I do not work on the sofa or in bed unless I am ill.
If you can work on your laptop in the car, sofa, or in a coffee shop, more power to you. I have worked in these situations with friends while traveling. However, I am most productive at my desk. This is where self-awareness comes in.
Create Virtual Coworkers
If you’re part of a company, you may already have team meetings. If you’re an Agency of One like Nathan Allotey calls it, then you need to create coworkers. Things come up. You need peers you can trust to work through issues. For me, this is Jason Tucker and Jen Miller.
We have a Group Message that continues day or night. If need be, we jump on a group FaceTime or Zoom call. We need a small group of people we can trust.
Write Stuff Down
When I first began working remotely, I thought I was going to lose my mind. My work was no longer tied to tasks represented by literal paper in an actual inbox. I knew that being a routine-oriented was a plus, but my routine completely changed.
Two weeks into remote work, went to Staples and bought a paper calendar with a two-page week layout. Yes. Paper. And pens. I bought pens. To this day, I still use a paper calendar (along with Google Calendar), a notebook to take notes during client calls), and post-it notes. I recently added using Momentum for Chrome, thanks to a suggestion from Jason Tucker.
Remote Work Tools
If you’re working for a company, you may be using Basecamp, Slack, and Zoom to coordinate, keep one another accountable, and manage tasks. If it’s not Basecamp, it may be Asana, Trello, or ClickUp. Slack may be What’s App, Zoom might be Skype.
Familiarize yourself as much as you can with the tools your company uses. Don’t expect to be given a tour or tutorial. I don’t think I’ve ever been given one.
In client work, I use whatever tools my client uses. This is because I’m a marketing freelancer. Either way, whatever works, works. Get a system and stick to it. It only works if you work it, as they say.
Learn From Experts
Today I joined WPwatercooler about remote work. Steve and Cosper have a lot of valuable advice. Watch this 30 minute episode. You won’t regret it.
Remote Work Mindset
Being a successful remote worker is a mindset. Be disciplined. A lot of people work in their pajamas. I cannot.
Again it’s part of my mindset and self-awareness. When I shower, get dressed, fix my hair, and put on makeup, my brain knows it’s time to work. I’m emotionally and intellectually ready to do my best.
Remote Work Tips from WPwatercooler
- Shower Daily
- Wear Clean Clothes
- Take 10 Minute Breaks
- Stand in the Sun
- Go Outside
- Eat Lunch At a Regular Time
- Dedicate an Office Space/Area/Mindset
- Block Out Your Time
- Close Your Laptop at the End of Day
- Segregate Work and Personal Email with Apps
- Virtually Raise Your Hand if You’re Stuck
- Raise Your Hand if You Finish Early
- Communicate with Your Team Daily
- Check In with Supervisor Regularly
Remote Work is Freedom
Ultimately, remote work is freedom. It’s freedom from people interrupting your work. It’s freedom from an expensive commute. But there are downsides, too. You need to be around people. But that’s another blog post.Remote work is the ultimate freedom. You're no longer dependent upon commute, location, or salary. Click To Tweet
Remember, that it is a huge difference between being a small business owner/freelancer and being an employee who works remotely. Managing expectations is about effective communication and boundary setting.
When you freelance, you set the rules. You’re not a jerk because you won’t work at 4:00 A.M. My good friend always says, “Your crisis isn’t my problem.” She’s right.
Don’t allow anyone to bully you: friends, partners, clients, or bosses. Be polite. Be humble. Be free.