Some Thoughts and Notes on Working Remote for Over a Decade

When it comes to remote work, it is really all I know. In my early twenties I started my own web development agency and was working with clients from all corners of the world through Skype and email. Back then, remote work was more of a novel approach rather than the norm. It was a full conversation every time I brought it up. But fast forward to today, and remote work is increasingly becoming a standard mode of operation for many companies, particularly in the tech industry.

When I moved from freelancing to working for an agency, I was excited to be working with a team. I would log on to Slack each morning and say “Good morning!” out into the general channel. I had no idea this wasn’t the norm and really hadn’t thought about my morning being the afternoon or evening for someone else. I just wanted to say hello to my new team. But over time it caught on! We all generally said our good mornings and that served as an asynchronous morning routine to show when you were starting your day and kick off a bit of conversation.

So in my case one little extra habit helped to highlight the different time zones we were in and how delayed one morning was from another. Working remotely takes practice and lots of little habits need to be created or adapted. Knowing when your day overlaps with your team, clients, or customers isn’t solved with a morning greeting but it can certainly help.

Remote work is of course more than just navigating time zones and typing a morning greeting instead of saying it. Working remotely, on your own away from an office is about being a self-starter and being your own project manager. It’s about having the right tools for the job – a good computer, a stable internet connection, and a very comfortable desk chair. And it’s about creating an environment conducive to productivity, regardless of where you are. Ultimately all of this is on your shoulders in a much more profound way than showing up to an office.

The concept of work-life balance takes on a new dimension when your home is your office. The line between personal life and professional life can easily blur, and it’s not uncommon to find yourself working well beyond the traditional 8-hour workday. For me, the key has been to establish a routine that promotes balance and fits within the flexibility of remote work life.

One of the highlights of my remote work journey has been the chance to spend more quality time with my kids. Working from home allowed me to be there for them during their early years, an opportunity that would have been difficult to achieve in a traditional work setup.

Maintaining strong connections with your team in a remote environment requires effort. Regularly scheduled meetings that include a few minutes of ‘clearing’ time, video calls, and in-person meetups are all essential in creating and nurturing a sense of unity and camaraderie.

To those considering the shift to remote work, I say: Do it if you can. It might mean you’ll work more, but the gains are equally significant. Learn to manage your own time and embrace the idea of doing things differently.

Remote work is reshaping our perceptions of office life, commuting, and even the overall structure of companies. But remember, it’s not a free ride. You are responsible for creating a comfortable and productive work environment, managing your productivity, and making a clear distinction between home and work. Remote work can present serious challenges, but the rewards make the journey worthwhile.

Working remotely for the past fifteen years has been an adventure filled with growth, learning, and redefining what ‘normal’ looks like in the world of work. And I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us next.