On working remotely
I have been working remotely at Bandzoogle for over four years. Remote work was something I dreamed with when I had a 9am-5pm office job. It has been one of those rare cases where reality exceeded my expectations.
There are plenty of great articles and some great books on the subject. I will share my very personal experience here.
Your time is yours
To me, the best part is having full control over your time. Being free to design your working schedule is a luxury. It makes so much easier to accommodate basic things like spending time with your family, doing errands, cooking, exercising or dealing with unforeseen events.
I think having some routine is recommendable. I have experimented with different schedules, and I have changed them over the years. But the point is that being able to do it is wonderful.
No waste of time
Working remotely removes a lot of wasted time from your daily routine. In my previous job, I spent 1 hour every day commuting between home and my office. And I would add another 30 minutes between getting ready to leave home and being operational after arriving at work. That is 30 hours per month. Given how valuable time is, that is a wonderful gift.
Some people recommend getting dressed for work even if you work from home, to put yourself in a at work state-of-mind. I never needed that. I am perfectly productive in my sweatpants. In fact, that is how I feel more comfortable for working.
Working from home gives you total control over the interruptions you receive. I used to work in a place where I could rarely get 30 minutes of work done without being interrupted. Not all the places are the same, but remote work makes getting rid of interruptions very easy.
In Bandzoogle, we have leaned towards an asynchronous approach for communications thanks to Basecamp, which has helped me with focus even more. I have all the notifications turned off in my devices. When I want, I check Slack and Basecamp to see what is up. Only when someone mentions my name in Slack, I get a notification. With this system, I have hours of uninterrupted work every day to get my stuff done.
Ideal working environment
I am a techie and being able to pick my tools makes me happy. My needs are nothing outrageous: a comfortable chair, an uncluttered table, my computer with a big screen and a notebook with a pen. This is another perk of remote work: designing your working space.
When it comes to working tools, each person is different. For example, I like to code on a 30’’ screen. Some people prefer an 11’’ super-light notebook. A policy where every employee uses the same equipment, which is the norm in regular offices, would make someone unhappy.
I believe it is important to have a dedicated space at home for working. It allows me to close the door and work uninterruptedly more easily. I am not a big fan of working in other places, such coffee shops, because I like it familiar and quiet, but I have done it on certain occasions, and they can perfectly do the job for me if needed.
Working at home makes eating healthy food much easier. As it happens with time, you have full control over the food you buy. If you fill your kitchen with healthy ingredients, you will have a difficult time for not eating healthily. Things such candy machines, lunches in restaurants, caloric desserts or beverages are not in your environment anymore, and that makes taking care of your diet much easier.
The not so good parts
The main drawback to me is that, sometimes, I wish I could be in the same room with my teammates and a blackboard to clarify some question. It doesn’t happen often. It has never been an insurmountable obstacle. But nothing beats face-to-face communication for certain things.
Every person is different, and I don’t think working remotely is for everyone. Some people need face-to-face contact with other people to feel energized. I am on the opposite side, so that has never been an issue for me.
Dealing with personal problems remotely can be even more challenging than in the real world. I think tone and words matter a lot in general, but they are especially important in a remote environment, since written communication is free of nuances that might mitigate the wrong vibes. I am very lucky to work with people who are polite, nice and friendly. Probably hiring such people is the only way to enforce a healthy remote working environment.
Having to organize your routines or succumbing to distractions are recurring problems for some people. That has never been a problem in my case.
No going back for me
Today it would be difficult for me to go back to not-remote. It just works too well for me. I would only give it away if I were forced to (meaning I had no other choice).