I've been working remotely or semi-remotely now for the past 5 years, it's been a mixed experience, there are definitely times you miss the day to day interaction of office life but for me the good outweighs the bad. The way I approach remote working has changed so much since I started, I thought it could be useful to share my experiences in the hopes of helping others along the way. In this post i'll share things that have worked for me personally, you don't need to be a software engineer for this to be useful - these tips can help anyone.
Have your own space
This is said a lot, but having a setup that works for you is incredibly important. Make sure you're in your optimal work environment, a place you get excited to go every morning, whether that be a budget desk with a plant and Ikea chair or the best sit-stand desk money can buy - it's worth the investment.
Keeping the same routine is important, not just for you but also (usually) for your coworkers. When you work in most cases is largely up to you, but I find consistency is pretty key to a successful remote working role.
Leave the house
Contrary to the point above, if you start feeling isolated leave the house! Go and work from a coffee shop, co-working space, go out for lunch, take an exercise class - you have the freedom so use it! Sometimes it can feel a bit like cheating, or maybe like you're slacking off but I can guarantee that if you're in a remote company other people are doing it.
Find other outlets
Some people are happy shutting themselves off all day everyday, i'm not one of those people. I joined a CrossFit gym, I go to classes 3 times a week, I start work early on a Monday morning and go around 10:30, I also go one evening and Saturday morning. I tick the social box and workout at the same time, it's a win-win for me.
Make sure people around you understand that you're working! I've had people drop in on me because they assume I have the time; unless they've worked remotely before it's hard for people to grasp that you're not just hanging out at home.
I find setting daily goals far more valuable than making sure i'm at my desk from 9-5. I know I need to get certain things done each day and I make sure I do them, somedays that takes me to 3pm and others 7pm, it all balances out in the end.
If you work in a team try to schedule weekly calls with your colleagues, even if you just catch up with things that happened over the weekend, a movie you saw or a new game you're playing, carving out some time to talk to the people you work with helps drive engagement and teamwork.
If you're lucky enough to have remote coworkers live nearby or have a company willing to pay the travel (or be able to pay for it yourself) go and meet up with them! I fly out to the office every couple of months and although it's time spent away from my family i'm always glad I did. When with coworkers - If you can - spend more time on the things that are a little more challenging remotely, don't just focus on your day to day.
This was NOT obvious to me when I started out, but putting on real clothes really helps. I used to wear joggers and baggy t-shirts while working, It made me feel lazy and sluggish. Since moving and having a dedicated office space I tend to wear jeans and a t-shirt, I find it makes a big difference to my productivity levels.
Make sure you maintain a backlog. If you work in different timezones it's easy to get blocked by tasks waiting for more info or review, and that leads to procrastination. If you don't already, try using the kanban/agile approach with boards and tickets, it's a great way to visualise your workload and if your TODOs are getting a little light you can fix it before it becomes a problem.
There are more things I could add here; co-working spaces, communication tools etc. but I wanted to hone in on the key attributes that make remote working so successful for me.
Below is my home office, i'm incredibly proud of it. It's busy I know but that's just how I like it, different things work for different people after all. Everything inside is the result of 5 years of working remotely, when I started all I had was a desk, a chair and a laptop.
Thanks for reading! ✌️