Having team members working remotely has become popular lately and this working culture is growing rapidly. Could it eventually replace the conventional workplace?
It’s common amongst those that work from an office, that the idea of working from home inspires thoughts of freedom. Flexibility. Have a coffee when you want. Play with the kids when you want.
Let’s look at a day in the life, and you decide.
Wake up in the morning and grab your phone to check your email. All clear! Nothing urgent to deal with first thing. Have a quick wash, make a cup of Javanese coffee, turn on your computer and you are ready to go.
Coding, coding…all good. Then your kids wake up. You play with them a while, then back to coding, coding.
Oh it’s lunchtime. Your kids want to play their new toys with you, but you yell at them not to bother you.
Coding, coding…and then you hit a brick wall. I can’t think about this now, let’s turn on the TV for 5 minutes, watch an ad for Game of Thrones season 7 coming July 2017. Yes! Back to the computer to find the trailer on YouTube. Then you google it some more, read the forum threads, the Wikipedia page, and shit it’s already 3pm! What happened to that 5 minutes?
I normally carry on working in the evening, I can be more creative when my kids aren’t having a tantrum and everything is quiet. So, now it’s 10pm, everyone else is asleep…coding, coding til 1am.
That is just an example of a common day of a remote worker’s life, does it still inspire thoughts of freedom? Hrmm…not for me!
Being an employee who isn’t seen in the office everyday, well sometimes it sucks. You don’t know your team personally. You can’t experience those little perks remotely. You can’t tell jokes that need body language. You can’t attend the office weekend BBQ or any of the team building activities. We are separated by 4438 km with an ocean and a huge landmass in between.
I’m not sure about other workers, remote or otherwise, but I feel guilty when a project takes longer than expected. I fear that our chief thinks that I don’t work a solid 40 hours. That normally leads to me doing extra work to overcompensate, in the night or on the weekend. I’m happy to do that though, to lessen my fear.
Here some things that I think can make working remotely work (at least for me):
Know Your Time
If the rest of your team works in a different time zone, then you need to try to match your working days as closely as possible. Working at the same time is obviously better for collaboration.
Manners make the man
Because you are not there alongside your teammates, you don’t know what their annoying little habits are. Are they money hungry? Do they lick their fingers while eating lunch? Well, since we’re not there, we need to make sure everyone else knows what we’re like. Communication is a vital part of this! The DN team uses Slack as our communication tool, so I can say (read:type) ‘Hello’ at the start of every working day. I can keep them up-to-date with everything (including toilet breaks).
It’s these little things that make me (I think) have a good manner. Do something to remind your teammates that you’re still around and always be ready to talk or discuss something.
Do NOT Work from Home
I used to work from home before our team grew, but more heads mean more thoughts and ideas and they need more attention. You cannot play LEGO with your kids when one of your team needs your input on an important task. It makes me and my kids sad, that we both can’t have the benefit of working remotely. But get out of the house! You can choose a coworking space, or rent some other place to do your work. Less distractions will lead to more productivity.
Comment, Log, Status
You need to make sure that your boss knows exactly what are you working on, how far along it is, what obstacles are in your way, etc etc. Here’s where project management software like JIRA comes in handy. This way, you can log your work and your progress can be tracked easily from the other end. Also this software can fit with any business platform, because it offers fully customisable workflows.
It feels really good when you can shake hands with your team, and get to know them in the flesh. Having a face-to-face conversation just cannot be replaced with a video call. I love that our chief knows what is best for our team, and we can have at least 1 meetup a year to get to know each other in person.
There is still a bunch of things that I want to share, but Doh!, it’s 4.30pm in Adelaide and I need to conclude what I’m working on before the team leaves the office, so I’ll share more experiences another day.
Do you work remotely? Let us know your thoughts!