Shoot, where are my pants!?
Solid habits for remote workers to keep your sanity… and dignity
Have you ever experienced that awful situation of suddenly being awake, and slowly realizing that you’ve slept through the three alarms you set for that early morning meeting that you were just sure you’d be able to make it to? For remote employees battling separate time zones with their team, this may be a regular occurrence; it’s the remote work equivalent of waking up late for your mid-term exam.
The trouble is, there isn’t really a definitive handbook out there for remote workers; nobody prepared me for 6am wakeup calls with Europe where I’m expected to be a functioning human being! All anyone talks about is jet-setting around the globe and working from the beach, but this isn’t reality for most remote workers. These habits will help you live a (mostly) normal life, and stay on top of your game.
Set a regular sleep and work schedule
Scheduling is a powerful tool that’s often overlooked and underutilized. Flexible work is one of the best perks of being remote, but you’ll thank yourself by having some regularity to your schedule. Living in the US and working with Norwegians can sometimes be challenging (did I mention early morning meetings?), but by having a rigid sleep schedule I’m able to be mostly composed for even the earliest of meetings - Behead notwithstanding.
Having a set schedule gives you a certain predictability to your day, but it doesn’t mean that an impromptu trip to your favorite coffee shop is out of the question either. Being spontaneous is often overlooked by remote workers, but it can be a great coping mechanism for isolation or loneliness.
Create your workspace
When you aren’t working from the road, having a space you’ve catered to your work is immensely helpful for focusing throughout the day. There are times when you’ll dread the bustle of your favorite coffee shop, or maybe you just don’t feel like braving the cold to make it to your co-working space. When this inevitably happens, having a familiar space in your home will help get the creative juices flowing and keep distractions at bay.
Get out into the world!
Having a workspace is great, but isolation is one of the most difficult challenges remote workers face. It’s easy to start feeling a bit like a hermit in your home; only venturing out to buy groceries or a new pair of sweatpants. It’s important to break the routine sometimes; go enjoy a walk if it’s a particularly beautiful day, or catch that mid-day yoga class that you always wished you made time for. Flexibility is one of the greatest perks of remote work, so it’s important to take advantage of it sometimes.
Track your time
Remote workers have been found time and time again to work more hours than their office counterparts. A big part of this comes down to feeling the need to “prove your worth”, and justify working from your couch in your PJs. A simple and effective way of combatting this is to track your time.
It doesn’t need to be a complicated schedule on your calendar, or yet another tool to add to your arsenal either! At Whereby, we accomplish this with a simple “check-in” message each morning in Slack. We note where we’re working from that day, and give a quick rundown of what we’re working on. If we need to step away, we simply post that we’re taking a break, and check back in when we return. This makes it effortless to keep track of time spent working, and when it’s time to call it a day.
Finally, use tools that help you stay connected with your team
We can’t forget about the work part of remote work, so finding tools that help your team connect across countries and time zones is a must do as well! Check out some of my favorites below:
- Whereby — Not going to lie I have a heavy bias here, but one of the key reasons I joined the team is because there isn’t any other tool out there that’s as simple and straightforward to use for video meetings!
- Trello — This is a fan-favorite for asynchronous collaboration. Set up a board with your goals, and share the link with the relevant team members. People can contribute and move things around as needed, no mater what time zone they’re in
- Slack — Another common tool, that has great integrations to keep the communication flowing on your team. Sometimes it can feel like a black hole, so it’s important to take the key points from important discussions and get them into a more formal workspace
- Gmail/Google Drive— Used by millions of people around the world, a Google account gets you access to many great collaboration tools and cloud storage. Perfect for managing your email, or using G Suite as a replacement for your basic spreadsheeting, presentation, and document writing needs.
- Miro — A recent addition to the team, but certainly a welcome one! We’ve been using Miro for big picture project and planning. Recently we’ve been planning a redesign of the Support Center, and having an infinite workspace to lay things out has really made the process easy.
Share some of your favorites in the comments, I’m always looking for ways to up my remote working game!