Remote Working

Walking through London

I’ve been thinking about writing something about Remote Working for some time, sharing my ideas and experience. This is not about tools or ways to manage tasks, but more personal thoughts.

Types

Before diving in I would just like to share how I see different types of Remote Work:

Nomads

  • Guess this is the word of the moment when people talk about Remote working. I would describe nomads as that they don’t have a “Home Base”. They continuously travel, moving location every couple of weeks. In their view, why would do stay in just 1 place, when you just need a Internet connection to work?

Remote (Where I fit)

  • We are the ones that have a “home base”, but work remotely from the office, team, maybe from another country. Once in a while they might also travel and work from different locations, maybe once or twice every couple of months.

Working from Home

  • The option that most common option that companies choose. You still need to commute to the office/client regularly, but can work from home/remote some days.

My experience

I’m based in London and I’m Remote. I love London, think it’s an amazing city, that’s why we decided to move here some years ago.

My entire team at binaryedge.io is fully-Remote. The company is based in Zurich (Switzerland) but we are distributed between Switzerland, UK, and Portugal, without a office space. I split my working location between Home, Co-Working Spaces, Coffee shops or a park (having a mobile broadband helps. On another topic, Hey Apple, what about a MacBook Pro with LTE?). Once in a while I travel to Portugal or Switzerland to be with team members in those locations, but also travel to other countries when I can (I started writing this when I was in Sofia, Bulgaria)

“you’re living the dream”

The first reaction I get when I tell people that I work remotely is “OMG you can sleep in, watch movies, slack off, you’re living the dream”.

So this is in part why I wanted to write this. I do love it, but People think it’s easy…

Team work is harder. Despite what people can say, it is. You can’t just grab a team member to help/talk over a cup of coffee. Of course there are many tools you can use to help you, from Slack to Hangouts. But humans like physical interaction, that is in part how we bond. It’s important to see the other person, unconsciously react to their body-language.

This lack of sharing the same physical space has impacts in many levels, including communications to mental health. Some people don’t like remote because of this, and that’s ok, Remote is not for everyone. It took me some time to get used to 100% remote….

Communication

Comms are essential in any company, but on Remote even more important.

While we have a handful of ways to communicate by writing, nothing beats listening and seeing the other person. Regarding my team, of course it helps that we are all in near-timezones, this allows us to have regular calls between team members, webcams enabled, screen-sharing, etc. This helps people Bond.

  • Focus your communications — less apps can help focus;
  • Document decisions/ideas on a Wiki, helps keep knowledge;
  • Be explicit, implicit can create conflicts or miss-communications;

Mental Health

One of the advantages of going to a office (Yes, there are advantages, lets be pragmatic) is the physical concept of the Work Space. Once you leave you can “shutdown”, you feel a sense of calm and your brain starts to focus on other stuff.

When you working from Home, your Relax space becomes your Work Space… So where’s the split? That’s why it’s important to have a dedicated space to split Work from Leisure, a office, work room, whatever you want to call it. This helps to focus and clear out constant distractions.

One of the big advantages of Remote and having flexible time is that if you feel tired, blocked in a idea, you can just do something to help relax. Take a nap, walk, grab a book. It’s important to take advantage of these small periods.

And very important — define time on when to shutdown.

Time

You need to manage your time harder. Not talking about ensuring you get the productive hours you need to get stuff done, but also the opposite, since Home is your Work Space, you can fall in the pit of just keep working, of “let me do just one more thing”.

These things can have a big toll on your mental health, you will feel constantly jumping between things, mentally exhausted.

  • Separate your work from leisure space;
  • Turn off distractions, notifications;
  • Ensure you turn off, get personal time, avoid burnouts;

Guess there’s much more I could write about this topic, maybe i’ll use it as an excuse to try and write more…

Anything you would like to know about my experience with a Fully Remote Team? Let me know.