There’s a lot to love about remote IT work. It takes out the office politics completely and allows you to create your own schedule. It’s quicker to get stuff done without co-workers coming by to say hello whenever they please. If you want to stop by a cafe and work for the afternoon, you can! With remote IT work, you have more freedom to do the things you need during the week while also saving money on commuting, food, and coffee. Basically, working remotely is the solution to our busy modern lifestyles… or is it?
The truth is, working from home isn’t for everybody. For a lot of people, they need a separation between work and home in order to be effective at either. However, for those that do choose to work remotely, there are ways to organize your life for a good balance and efficacy.
If you don’t have a passion for the work, doing it remotely isn’t going to help anything. To be a successful remote worker, you have to be completely committed to what you are doing. Motivation is key when it comes to working from home.
One of the easiest lies to tell yourself when you’re working remotely is that it’s okay for you to sleep in because you’ll just work that much later. Of course, the kids come home or your friends go out for happy hour and “later” becomes “not at all” and the next thing you know, you’re behind schedule. Pick a time to begin working and commit to being in front of your computer at that exact time, every day, no excuses.
Working from home requires structure. Log all your tasks on a calendar with a week-by-week schedule that keeps you on task. As something comes up, find an open spot in that calendar and let your boss or client know exactly when you are getting to it. When you can, schedule any meetings or out-of-home-office close together so you can get them all done in one big chunk of time. Each task you have per week should be prioritized. A good rule of thumb is to get anything you don’t particularly like doing done first– that way you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.
If you choose to work remotely, you need to create a separate space in your home from which to work. Design your office space in a way that inspires your creativity. Eliminate outside distractions like TV; it’s too easy to get sucked into whatever’s happening on the tube. It’s also important to get dressed in the morning. Working in your PJs may sound fun, but our perceptions of ourselves change with what we are wearing. If you are in your lounge clothes, your brain is going to be in lounge mode. Take the time in the morning to shower, put on clothes, apply makeup… whatever it is you need to do to feel “dressed.”
When you work from home, it’s easy to get caught up in what you’re doing. Without co-worker wandering around and stopping to chat, you can zone in on a task and get things done. However, it’s important to take breaks. We aren’t designed to work eight hours nonstop. Taking breaks helps problem solving and creativity. It also prevents burnout so you don’t lose your passion for the work (see #1 up there).
There are going to be days when working from home just isn’t, well, working. Maybe the in laws are in town and there’s a bunch of commotion. Maybe a room needs to be fumigated. Whatever the reason, it’s a good idea to have a spot where you can set up shop and get some work done. For many people, their favorite neighborhood coffee shop fills that role. Others rent out desk space at coworking communities. You may even have a neighbor or friend happy to lend out their office while they’re out. Just be sure it’s a place with good internet and an atmosphere conducive to working, and you’ll be fine.
When it comes to remote IT work, things get lost in translation. You may think it’s easier to have things laid out in writing, but the truth is when you aren’t verbally communicating you can’t as easily go into the depths of what your boss or client wants. Asking as many questions you can think of up front, then asking, even more, follow up questions will ensure you truly grasp your instructions so you can get your work right the first time.
Whether your company uses Skype or you’re a Slack devotee, don’t disappear from your company’s chat channels just because your face isn’t around. Your company is a team and a team needs to communicate to work effectively. Use the tools given to you to ask questions and work together, even if you’re not in the same building.
With remote IT work, one of the perks is the money you can save if you skip Starbucks and take-out for making it yourself. However, just because you can save a few bucks making your own lunch doesn’t mean you’ll have time to get your Gordon Ramsay on. You still need to stick to a schedule, so you probably only have 30 minutes to maybe an hour for your lunch break, depending on how you break up your day. You’ll want to enjoy that time actually enjoying your food, not wondering what to make, then taking 45 minutes making it. Come up with 2-3 go-to lunches you can throw together in minutes so you can eat and get back to work. Buy ingredients for these lunches on Sunday and revel in the convenience.
All of these tips work for someone, but nothing works for everyone. You may find that remote IT work in the comfort of your sleep clothes is best for you. Some people think the noise of the television is like a sound machine that keeps them focused. Listen to your instincts and create an environment that is right for you.
At Number8, we embrace the freedom and flexibility when our employees work remotely. With effective communication and the above practices, we are able to keep up with our ever-changing market whether we are in office or out. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at 502-212-0978, or learn more about how staff augmentation and nearshore software development can help accelerate your company’s growth.
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