Compared to the history of employment, working remotely is a fairly new concept. Now that technology has brought us to a point where working in many fields is entirely possible from almost anywhere there are people who are jumping on the opportunity the first chance they get, and others holding on to the traditional office environment with more determination than Gollum holding the One Ring. I’m personally a big fan of the ability to work remotely when the type of work permits.
In college I toured the United States extensively with a rock band as lead guitarist. During my senior year I was on the road for 23 days in the month of September. Somehow I found professors who agreed to allow my absences as long as I completed all assignments and tests on time or early. Needless to say, sometimes writing a paper on the politics of the pre-Civil War South at 9pm in a 15-passenger van in the middle-of-nowhere, Wisconsin is not exactly the typical perception of the rock and roll lifestyle, but it taught me invaluable lessons about remote working and how much it is possible to get done in a non-traditional environment.
Even now I have web clients spanning multiple states for whom I create and maintain websites remotely. The rock and rolling still happens sometimes too. This last January I built 80% of a website on a MAMP server on my laptop while in route to and from a show (photo proof above) in West Palm Beach, Florida from Nashville, TN. A very long drive, by the way. I still can hardly feel my legs… But the point is that I personally am a huge fan of working remotely. It allows me to travel, to participate in all kinds of opportunities, and expand my horizons, which absolutely come back to make my quality of work better and more rounded. Diligence is absolutely required, but if you make they time and use the tools available to you, you will be surprised at the levels of productivity you can achieve.
If you are thinking about working remotely here are a few things to consider:
Communication is King – Whether its with your clients, your boss, or the members of your team, communication is what will keep things running smoothly, efficiently, and effectively. Look into chat and communication tools like Slack, which is particularly great for remote teams, as well as they usual phone and email.
Use Tools to Your Advantage – Research the tools that will make your job easier. There really is no point in working harder without working smarter. That’s part of the whole idea behind remote working in the first place. Depending on what it is that you do, there are likely different tools that will make your remote working experience significantly more pleasant and productive. If you are traveling a lot you may want to look into wi-fi hotspot and jetpack capabilities. If you have a more stable working location but occasionally require less dependence on wi-fi (because we have all been to that coffee shop where the wifi crawls slower than LA traffic), something as simple as installing and becoming familiar with a MAMP or WAMP server for developing websites using technologies like PHP and WordPress will give you some freedom from that signal weighted down by all the Netflix binging around you.
Stay Organized – There are numerous apps and digital ways to keep track of tasks and deadlines, as well as more old-school paper and pencil options. I am personally a big fan of the “Bullet Journal” note taking system, which I go into in more detail in the blog post, “Organization for the Would-Be Trainwreck.”
Lastly, as strange as it seems to some who have never worked remotely, many statistics actually show that remote workers work more than their traditional office counterparts. The trick here then is to establish a time to work and a time to turn it all off. This will provide you with the mental refresh and space to come back to your work ready to knock it out each day. With your work available at all times, it can be tempting to just keep working, but in the long run, you and your quality of work will be best if you work hard when you work, and stop when you stop. If you don’t’ take it from me, at least take it from Jack in The Shining. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Don’t be like Jack. He was unstable.