Today makes two full months since I started a fabulous new job that allows me to work from home full time. The company is largely a remote-based working environment, so it’s not like an office based role where I can work remotely once in a while “at management’s discretion”. It’s pretty much based at home all day, every day. Believe me, there’s a big difference.
When I tell people about my working arrangements, the usual response is “you must be living the dream” and, to be honest, I do feel like I am a bit as my working arrangements are very convenient for my partner and I. However, two months in, I do feel like every day is a learning curve and I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt with those who also wish to work from home full time.
You have to be disciplined
It goes without saying, organisation is the key to success when it comes to working remotely. Each day needs to be meticulously planned and have structure and purpose. It’s so easy to get carried away, lost in your own trail of thoughts, caught up checking social media or just not working at a fast enough pace, especially when you are used to the structure of an office working environment.
I generally pride myself as somebody who is organised, but my discipline has really been put to the test (and failed a couple of times) when it comes to time management and organisation of my day. It’s no biggie, who doesn’t slip up once in a while? The important thing is to find your feet, work out which routine works best for you and, most importantly, stick to it consistently.
Working remotely full time is not for the faint hearted. It’s for the organised, the focused, the disciplined results based worker. If that’s not you, then working from home isn’t for you either, buddy.
Communication is key
If you are engaged in work of a collaborative nature, it can be much more difficult for you to form relationship with clients, colleagues and department members without being physically present. Small things like, swinging around in your chair and asking someone if they know where XYZ document is saved, has a potential to make an impact on the smoothness of your work flow.
It can also become easier to get overwhelmed. In an office setting, it’s clear for colleagues to see when you have a busier working day than others, for example your headphones might be in, they may see you engaging in a higher amount of calls on a particular day, or you may even mention it in passing in whilst conversing casually. [Considerate] colleagues usually use this to gauge if they can approach you for certain queries or grab you for a quick meeting or ask for advice. In a home setting, you don’t have the luxury of visibility, therefore it can become easy to become swamped in your workload or feel as though you’re disconnected with what’s going on. If ever you feel like that, it’s always best to speak up, let the appropriate people know that you may need a moment to prioritise your tasks and, of course consult management or colleagues for advice or a hand if you need it.
You can do things that you were not able to do before
This is probably my favourite part of working remotely. There are so many things that we get robbed from, when we work in an office environment. For the first time probably since childhood, I am able to enjoy a nutritious home cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. When I feel a headache coming on, I’m able to stand on the balcony of my penthouse, and feel the wind blowing through my headscarf for a few moments. My days are no longer caffeine fuelled. I can actually walk away from my laptop at lunch and catch up on an episode (or two) of a series I’ve been watching, then pick back up like nothing happened. I can get up early and decide, I want to start work earlier, go through a few things for an hour or so, so that I’m well prepared for the day ahead, without having to wake up at 5am to get in the office early enough to get some quiet time. And, best of all, I’m in control of my own heating and aircon.
You can make use of the different working areas in your home/surroundings
It is vital to still have a dedicated work station when working remotely. Some people are ok with just working from their dining table or kitchen desk, which, for me is more of a short term solution that I avoid if I can. I have my own little space, equipped with my own printer, two screens, filing storage, stationary and even a small white board. I think it’s more of a psychological thing rather than anything else, but it definitely helps me get in “the zone”.
Having said that, there are a few times where I feel restricted by my workspace. My desk is facing a wall (not ideal) and long hours on my desk chair can sometimes leave me feeling uninspired and a little bit “blah”.
On these occasions, working remotely allows me the flexibility to go and work in a cafe for a few hours, or jump on my sofa and sit in a more relaxed position if I’m reading or reviewing something complex. The change in environment can have a positive impact on my output, and being in control of that does feel somewhat empowering
Flexible working is the most cost-effective, efficient, enjoyable and progressive working environment in my opinion. It encourages employers to build trust with their employees and work towards results based output rather than presenteeism. The notion that millennials want to work from home so they can skive off and play XBOX or whatever is massively outdated, and what these old school employers don’t understand is that you can actually skive whilst being at your desk, on your seat, facing your computer screen. Unless your work has to be customer or patient facing, all employers should try to incorporate at least some forms of remote working in each person’s role.