Featured Image Remote Work Tips

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.

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.

Okay. Backup.

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, roommate, 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 the self-awareness comes in.

View this post on Instagram

I really love my office.

A post shared by Bridget Willard (@bridgetmwillard) on

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.

Updated 3/13/2020.

20 Comments

  1. theBrokerList on January 30, 2016 at 2:53 am

    It is all too familiar! I work from home(s) as well and work way too much! I really need to be more about hours, but I do love the freedom. I can run errands and walk the dog and put a crock pot on and that to me is HUGE. I was chained to a desk for 30 years and I truly appreciate the unchaining of working from home. I am my own boss so it is not the same as being an employee, but you still need to have discipline! Great blog!

    • Bridget Willard on January 30, 2016 at 2:55 am

      Thank you, Linda. I’m
      Saving two hours a day from a commute.

      • theBrokerList on January 30, 2016 at 4:16 pm

        That is so huge to your quality of life! I think it is wonderful. You do get so spoiled not having to drive.

  2. Robert Nissenbaum on January 30, 2016 at 4:56 am

    I love working from home! And yes I am often in old jeans and a sweatshirt. Remembering to shave and shower is a problem but only because I am actually working.

    The best part – I am always home with family and I can work whenever inspiration hits. That’s often in the middle of the night.

  3. Carol Stephen on January 30, 2016 at 8:53 am

    This: “Also, I’m using notebooks. I write things down. The brain works differently when we’re typing than when we’re writing.” Yes! I have to write things down every day. In a real notebook. With a pen. I can so relate to this post. And am so happy that you’re happy.

    • Bridget Willard on January 30, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      You’ve helped me prepare for this job and this style of work. Thank you.
      Pen and paper helps immensely.

  4. Patrick Palmer on January 30, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    When I left my 9-5 job and became self employed, my biggest fear was getting lost on line, watching Dr. Phil and other distractions. It was the opposite. I’m out of the house by 10, on the road, and home most nights after 6pm.

    I always said, “If your computer gets fixed after 6pm or on the weekend, thank my wife.” She is my biggest cheerleader. However, I need social time as well.

    I meet with a group of folks on Wednesdays at Buffalo Wild Wings…we call it “WOW” for Wings on Wednesdays. THIS IS MY KIWANIS! I am a social person and need interaction. So, make sure you are getting that as well.

    I’m proud of you, Bridget for taking this step!

    • Bridget Willard on January 30, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      That’s awesome about Mrs. Palmer. Mercier is like that for me, too.

      Good point about being part of meetups. I go to a monthly social media meetup and just started going to a monthly WordPress meetup, too. Plus, Tuesdays, I’m in the office.

  5. Justine Pretorious on January 30, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Good advice! I was a remote worker for quite some time at Sun Microsystems and the last several years I was running my own business which meant I could work from anywhere. I have been on both sides of the coin and think they are very different because an employee is accountable to their team and company. While a freelancer or business owner is accountable to their own deadlines.

    I love working remotely and I hope that I get a job that enables me to do so in the future. For now I am picking up some freelance work here and there and making it work.

  6. Kyle Thill on January 31, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    I work from home when I think it’s best. Most often is because at home interruptions are not a factor. That said, the “interruptions” I most often deal with at work are real meaningful interactions. It because of that I don’t press for more home office time. I do very much enjoy being able to decide on how to spend all that time I would normally spend commuting to and from work.

    It’s a balance Bridget and it certainly sounds as if you have a terrific responsible approach to maximizing your productivity.

    • Bridget Willard on January 31, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      Good points, Kyle. Plus, you must have weather considerations.

      Thank you.

  7. Mike Schnabel on February 2, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Well, I am Bridget’s friend and ex coworker for almost 9 years. I miss her being in the office that’s for sure. I miss our 2pm coffee time! I’m glad you’re happy Bridget. I think about you all the time. Great story and cute office. Rock on girl!!

    • Bridget Willard on February 2, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      I totally miss 2:30 coffee, Mike, and you. Thanks, Mike!

  8. Clement on February 2, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    Hi Bridget

    Nice to connect with you.

    Always interesting to read about other people’s work from home routines. I work from home and I love the freedom it gives me.

    I totally relate to the bit about writing things down. I use google keep, evernote and google docs, but I still find it helpful to have a paper diary to set out my to-do list for the day.

    Clement

    • Bridget Willard on February 2, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      Good point. I use Google Docs for note taking along with notes for iCloud.

  9. Frank on February 4, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    I love the flexibility of being able to work the whole day or just a few hours from home! I can take my dog for a walk before the sun goes down and just catch up later in the evening.

    Have to admit though, when I work from home I’m in sweatpants and messy hair. 😉

    My go-to audio stimulation is a mix of NPR and Spotify.

    • Bridget Willard on February 4, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      Nice. I take my dogs out, too, Frank. Whatever works, works. 😀

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