Opinion by Alejandro G. Carlstein Ramos Mejia.
Working at home was pretty much standard prior the Industrial Era. Artisans, blacksmiths, artists, doctors and many other professionals used to work in the same places they used to live. Then, when the Industrial Era arrived, everyone were pull from their homes into confined spaces. Just in these few decades, with help of the technology advances, such as the internet, is that many jobs are being done remotely. While this article will not go over the pros and cons on working remotely, it will provide some advice to those of you that do work remotely or are planning to do so.
1) Do Not Burn Out due Working Extra Hours
When working remotely, it is very easy to get into the zone. Without the distractions, commonly found at the office, you can find yourself working extra hours without realizing. While this sounds great, the issue is the risk of burning out. Working long hours can build unnecessary stress. Being overworked can lead you to sleep less, eat worse, skip exercise and gain lots of health issues, including depression. Therefore, schedule breaks to gain energies and do not forget to put an alarm. Remember that if your health gets affected then your work will be affected too. Your health is very important. If you cannot take care of yourself, then you will not be able to take care of anyone including your job.
Also, be sure to spend time with your family, friends and those important for you. Your job should not consume you and ruin your relationship with your loves ones. Your job should complement your life, not destroying it.
2) Location, Location, Location
If you find your productivity being affected then try to work on a different location. Sometimes a change of scenery helps to gain our focus back. You do not have to work all day at your home. You can work at the near coffee shop, bar, and even at the house of a friend or familiar. Location is not an issue when working remotely. The only thing you need to ensure is that you have access to the tools required to do your work.
If your place has too many distractions, then visit your local library. Libraries have a code about keeping noises low. Some libraries even have private rooms available to the public. If a place such as a library is not good enough for you, then research about shared office spaces for rent.
Did you know that your mobile can be turn into a hotspot, depending of the model and carrier? You could share your phone’s internet access with other devices such as your laptop. If that is the case, then perhaps you would considered to work at the closest park. Pack your meals and enjoy nature while working.
3) Be Aware of Office Politics
Office politics always gets in the way of work and every company has this cultural disease to one degree or another. It does not matter if you care about the company, work long hours, and get things done. When working remotely, you are going to encounter people that think you are not doing your job, are jealous that you work remotely, or have the wrong perception of you since you are not at reach.
While you cannot do much for office politics, you can do something to reduce the effect it has on your life and work. In meetings, make sure to have your camera on. Let people see your face and recall that you are alive and you are a human being. Reach to your co-workers, once in a while, to check how they are doing in life, not only when you need something from them. Arrange meetings, in-person, with those co-workers that live closed, geographically, from you. Always take some time to thank those co-worker that helped you out. Plan visits to your office just to meet with everyone there. In short, be as social as you can.
Also, keep a work journal. Write down a summary of what you did and your accomplishments. In case someone does a false accusation, you can always reach your journal to put things straight. Confirm things via email. Remember that there are uncivilized people out.
4) Get the Right Tools
This is one of my personal pitfalls. Spending time and money to get the right tools. Yes, good tools are expensive; however, they are a good investment in the long run. Put an account aside to save money and do your research in your spear time. This is something that you cannot wait for your job to provide you. Good tools will increase your productivity, reduce stress, and may help you to enjoy your life. If you have back problems, then get a good chair (even better, get a massage chair). If your laptop is slow and old, see if it can be updated; else, try to get into an agreement that allows you to get one. If you need a second monitor, you can purchase a portable monitor and only requires to be connected to the USB port of your laptop. Anything that can help you to focus on your job and get things done faster and better should be acquired. Having the right tools allows you to focus on your job and reduce the time wasted.
5) Do Exercise
If you have an office job, regardless if it is at the office or at home, then you spend a lot of hours sitting down. Sitting for long hours seems to be bad for your health; therefore, it is important to schedule breaks where you stretch prior to continue working. Also, try to have some physical activity that helps to keep you healthy throughout the week.
For some people doing exercise seems natural, they always seems to have time to do it. If you do not have time then check out some exercise plans such as the 5BX, devised by Dr. Bill Orban from the Royal Canadian Air Force in the late 1950’s. There are many exercise plans and fitness programs out there; however, be aware that some may not be for you. Therefore, you should consult with a physician or other health care professional prior to use any of these fitness programs or exercise plans.
6) Learn to Disconnect Yourself from Work
Our jobs take a huge part of our lives. We spend at least one third of the day working. Therefore, we may find ourselves thinking or talking about work outside our office hours which can contribute to burn ourselves in the near future. Even if you have a passion for your job, you should take a break from it. It is not healthy. Therefore, make sure you engage in non-work related activities.
If you find yourself talking about work, perhaps consider to change the topic. You may be passionate about your job or just venting your problems with it; however, at some point, you should drop the topic and talk about something else.
There are cases when a solution to a problem, a reminder of things you must do, or the realization of something you forgot to do comes at you while sleeping. This may keep your mind busy while you are trying to sleep and ending you tired the coming morning. One way to deal with this is to take a moment to write down a reminder (or summary) of what it came to your mind, then go back to sleep. You will noticed that it put your mind at easy and you may go back to sleep, getting the rest you need. Therefore, leave a pen and paper next to your bed for such occasions.
Regardless if you are an introvert or extrovert, schedule sometime to meet with your co-workers in one way or another. While building a culture does not require all members to be face-to-face, it does not hurt to come up with excuses to meet up. It does not have to be work related either. It can be an online or in-site event. Just spend some of your time interacting with others in your company, regardless if they are members of your same team or not.
8) Be Aware of Falling into Depression
Depending of your personality, you may be a high social creature. You may need to have an intermittent interaction with people around you to work on constant pace. If you find yourself gaining or losing weight, having troubles going to sleep, feeling restless and agitated, or slower down mentally and physically due lack of energy, having troubles concentrating, losing interest or pleasure in your activities and having thoughts of suicide then seek medical mental health immediately. Do not be ashamed or afraid to ask for help.
There is a chance that remote work is not for you. Everyone is different. One way to find out is to start small, working remotely by short periods of time. If you do not seems to be affected, then you can expand the time you spend working remotely.
If you do not have a choice and you must work remotely then do not do it alone. Try to work with a co-worker or someone. It is not required, for both, to work on the same thing. It is just a matter to have some company while working. Again, seek medical mental health to see what you can do about it else try to change to a job that allows you to work at the office, surrounded with people.
Working remotely is highly rewarding and productive; however, like everything in life, there are pros and cons. You must be aware that working remotely can end having you working long hours. To make the most of your job, you must obtain the right tools of your trade. If you feel unmotivated, try to change locations and socialize with your co-workers. Learn to take a break from your job and spend time with your loves ones. They will be your lighting rod. Reduce your stress by keep yourself healthy. Heating properly and doing exercise may do the trick. Consult with a physician or other health care professional. Finally, be aware about having depression. Remote work is not for everyone. If you caught yourself dealing with depression seek professional help immediately. Do not be ashamed or afraid to ask for help.
Do you have experience working remotely? Do you have advice no cover by this article? Share your experience in the comment section below.