Tips and Advice for a better Remote Work Life

When I first started working remotely, I was already ‘used’ to the rythm and self-discipline of working on your own having been a Masters student (distance education, as my university was in another city) for a year.  I had also moved in a new city and in a new country, and pretty much had little to no professional contacts in the city that I was based in.  Not only that, but the rental that I had chosen was far away from the city centre and it would have made the job search far more difficult.  It seemed that a lot of cards were not stacked in my favor, when I decided to apply for a job that I found online on Craigslist (yes…Craigslist).  A week later, I had landed my first full-time remote job.

Biggest difference in remote work is how you communicate

One of the biggest difference that you will notice in remote work is communication.

  • You log into a chat software to show that you are now present in ‘work mode’, and also communicative if you are away, looking into an issue and so on.
  • You can add notifications to changes to documents to be passively informed.
  • A lot of communications and knowledge transfer is dependent on what is left behind – comments, articles, reviews, wiki, guides, tickets, and so on are crucial.
  • What you write is important – be succinct but also be more informative in your thoughts.
  • Get over the fear of sharing processes, ideas.
  • Respect that people need uinterrupted work times, decrease noise (email, notifications, pings, and so on).

Introducing yourself

I found that the ‘getting to know you / me’ stage in remote work companies tend to happen at rate that is ‘usual’ for the company.  For example, you might arrange meetings to chat to the rest of the team on your first week, or wait until your first month or two.

In this way, I find that having a blog is a way to introduce myself to the team.

Dealing with conflict and difficult conversations in a remote work environment

One of the challenges of a remote work environment is how one can deal with conflict and difficult conversations.

The issue with asynchronous communications that includes conflict is that the issue will remain an issue so long as it is not being addressed.  In this way, you need to determine when it’s time to switch to having real-time conversations, such as voice conversations.  This is going to be the case when you need to troubleshoot with someone over an issue, or if it is best to do a ‘live AMA’ over chat.

Learning on the job and independent study

Remote work involves a lot of learning on the job and independent study.  You don’t have the advantage of being in a room with your team and have that natural way of collaboration.  Therefore, collaboration and asking for help needs more of a push online.

Work and life balance

It is really up to you to make sure that there is a proper work/life balance.  I’ve come up with a number of workarounds.  It can be small changes like changing my email settings so that I do not get work email on my mobile devices, to adding filters against work-related resources (you can develop a habit of just automatically typing in a Github link!).