Remote working is becoming increasingly popular, especially with tools like Slack and Trello making it much easier to remain in contact with co-workers across different locations and time zones.
At Adaptavist, we make an effort to facilitate remote working as much as possible, which was a huge relief to me when I moved 200 miles away from our office in Norwich.
Here are the five things I wish I had known before I became a remote-worker:
Working hours become blurred
Commuting and being in an office gives your day and inherent structure - you leave for your bus/train/walk/etc at a certain time and often find that your lunch schedule matches up with your work buddies. None of that’s in place when remote working, and while it means you can be in your PJs rather than facing the 8am traffic, it’s easy to slip into an unsocial and unhealthy routine.
It’s important to create a routine that works for you and stick to it. It takes some self-discipline, but otherwise, I found myself working from 6.30am - 7pm, and while I got a lot done, it wasn’t a good work-life balance.
Pro tip: Recreate your morning commute by going for a walk or doing exercise in the morning before you start work. This is will give you a burst of energy and help you transition from an ‘at home’ to an ‘at work’ mindset. Repeat at the end of the day if you need to.
You never need to leave the house
With no need to commute, I found myself with not needing to go outside for the first few months of remote working. This again is an area where you’ll need to employ some self-discipline. Now, I make myself go for a 20 minute walk each day, usually at lunchtime, no matter how deeply focused I’ve been. This helps create a more structured day and is a great help for overall well-being. This is particularly important in the winter months when a general lack of sunlight can become a real health problem.
Pro tip: Set an alarm to remind you to go for a walk. Try to go at the same time every day to create a routine.
Your sofa becomes your new office chair
With no need to go to office and sit in that office chair anymore, I found myself slipping into the pattern of either using my sofa or my bed as my new office. It’s all about working in whatever conditions are best suited to what you consider as comfortable and what is the most productive for you. While there is nothing wrong with these two rather unconventional types of office, it’s about maintaining a routine that is healthy for you mentally and physically.
Pro tip: Set-up a space or table in your home that can substitute as a conventional office desk and chair. You’ll get the sense of a conventional working environment with all the home perks. Of, if you’re like me and lucky enough to have a spare room, consider making it your primary working space to home. That way, it’s easy to separate your ‘work space’ from your ‘home space’, even if they’re technically under the same roof.
You miss that Friday Feeling
Ahh, Fridays. No matter how much you love your job, everyone in the office gets caught up in the feeling of accomplishment that another week’s work has been completed and the excitement of weekend plans. But when your home is your office, you miss out on the buzz and pub chat. If you don’t take steps to regularly chat with co-workers and separate your workplace from you relax space, you’ll end up feeling lonely and your work will spill over into Saturday.
Pro tip: Join or create a slack channel for non-work chat with co-workers and be present in it on Friday afternoons. Chat about weekend plans and reflect on the week. This will help you to build your bond with them and separate Friday evening from Saturday morning.
You stop taking sick days
Presenteeism is a silent epidemic among the workforce, and remote working only enables this habit. While many of us are in the bad habit of going into the office when we’re sick, the commute & fear of infecting your co-workers creates a barrier between bad colds and getting to your desk. This isn’t the case for remote workers, and a few times I’ve found myself at my laptop with a cup of lemsip and a virus that I would have taken the day off for if I was an office worker. Again, it takes time to adjust your mindset, but it’s important to set boundaries and give your body time to rest when you're sick. No matter how tempting it is to open your laptop from bed, leave your work in another room and get some sleep.
Pro tip: If you are working from home but feeling unwell, then do some light work if you feel up to it, but not for too long. Sometimes less is more in the long run and your health is the most important.
You worry about what others think
Even if no one has said anything, I sometimes found myself worrying about what others thought now I was a remote worker. Did they all think I was skiving off early on Friday afternoons or taking long lunches whenever I want? Having this in the back of your mind can make presenteeism worse and have a negative effect on your self-esteem.
Pro tip: Keep a log of your working hours. Track when you log in, go to lunch, and log out. Not only can you use this as evidence if anyone ever questions your work hours (unlikely), it can help give you better peace of mind that you’re working just as hard as everyone else.
What do you wish you had known before you became a remote worker? Tweet us at @adaptavist to let us know!
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