For many people, working remotely sounds like a dream, and it's easy to see why. This type of work is immediately linked to freedom. You can work wherever on the planet you choose (be it your bed or a beach in the Bahamas), you can work in your PJs, and you are usually free to organize your time however you please, depending on the organization you work for.
But, telecommuting is not exactly a breeze. There are plenty of factors to take into account and it's certainly not for everyone.
So, how do you make telecommuting work for you? How do you work remotely like a pro? And, how do you strip your "office" to the essentials and make it mobile so you can work on the go?
Make The Most Of Remote Work
As you're getting ready to start working remotely, your mind will run wild. It doesn't matter whether your organization is changing the way they do business, if you're taking on a new job or becoming a freelancer. You will immediately start dreaming about your new lifestyle.
Soon, you'll be sitting in a lovely café near your place, headphones in with your favourite tunes as you type. You'll remember about a hundred cool places that you always thought would be great for spending your work day at. Of course, some days you'll just spend outside, working in nature with the birds chirping in the distance.
Let's not forget the incredible opportunity to travel whenever you want, which obviously means you'll take an unplanned vacation with your laptop at some point and work in Barcelona for a few weeks, with a stunning view of the port.
And then, a few months in, the inevitable happens. You find yourself sitting on your bed in your PJs, and even getting outside for your lunch break seems like hard work.
You see, remote work can and should be all those things you dreamed about in the first place. But you will need to make an active effort to keep the ideas alive and actually make them happen.
Working from home makes it really easy to become comfortable with a lazy lifestyle. But this might take its toll on your productivity, work/life balance and even on your health. So, here's what you should do if you really want this to work.
Have A Designated 'Home Office"
One of the worst things that could happen to you when you work remotely is that you completely lose the work/life balance. It can happen easily as the lines between work and off hours tend to get blurred.
When you work from the office, you simply know that work stops once you're out of the office. Your apartment is your safe space; it's where you relax, invite your friends over, cosy up with your partner, etc. But, when you telecommute, your room becomes your office. So, you feel like you should be working even during your off hours and you feel like you should be resting while you're working.
You can already imagine how this affects your productivity and your mental health.
That's why you need to make some boundaries. You need to have a designated home office which will be the only place in your home where work happens. This one is especially important if you live with your family or roommates because this home office should be the place where nobody disturbs you.
Not all of us live in huge houses and can afford to have a special room as the designated office. But, it doesn't have to be a room at all. It can be a desk in the corner of your room. Just make sure you have everything work-related ready in your "office" - a computer, a stable Internet connection, a headset, water and some peace and quiet.
And another thing - don't work in your pyjamas. Get up and do the routine as if you were actually going to work. We're not saying you should get dressed up or put makeup on (although you can if it helps). You can work in yoga pants and a hoodie, that's perfectly fine. Just make sure you don't wear the same thing you wear to bed, and you will instantly boost productivity.
Have A Set Schedule
The most important skill you'll have to master when you start working remotely is self-discipline. This lifestyle involves independence, which can often lead to laziness, lack of productivity and turn your day into a complete mess. That's why you need discipline and organization.
Depending on the company you work for, you will be more or less free to organize your work day however you want. If you do have that freedom, make sure to organize it to suit you. So if you love to work in the afternoons, you can. If you want a two-hour lunch break, fine. But, whatever your schedule, make sure to stick to it so that each work day flows more or less the same.
That way, you'll know exactly when you're supposed to be working, you will be much more productive and have more personal time.
Of course, if you're working for a company, you will need to respect their rules. So, if they want you to work from 9 to 5 and take hour-long lunch breaks, you'll have to make your peace with that. But, make sure you know exactly what's expected from you, and how much freedom you have to organize your day.
Keep In Touch
The fact that you're working outside the office shouldn't be the reason not to communicate with anyone from your organization. Actually, you need to actively work on that communication, both for work's and your own sake.
Offices can be loud places, and that's probably not one of the things you'll miss. But, sometimes you'll wish you can have a face-to-face meeting with your manager or a teammate so you can be on the same page and have clearer instructions on your tasks.
That's why you need to constantly keep in touch with people from your organization. Whether it's Skype, Slack, or phone calls, be present and show your employer and colleagues that you're there even if they can't see you every day. Schedule regular meetings and check-ins with your teammates to stay updated and involved in daily events.
Besides, even if you're an introvert who can't wait to get away from the chaos of the office, you will eventually feel lonely. When you're in the office, you're surrounded by people. Work is not just what happens at your desk. You have a chat with a colleague in the hall, you exchange ideas over lunch or take part in inevitable office banter. It's all part of your day.
When you work from home, it's eight hours of pure work. Sure, you will get up to make some coffee or you'll make a break to watch an episode of Game of Thrones, but you won't have many social interactions (cats and dogs don't count). That's why there will be moments you'll miss the office, so try to keep in touch with your friends from work online and definitely drop by the office every now and then if you have the option.
Get Out Of The House
All those romantic ideas you had when you were starting out? They are all possible if you want them to be. You just need to get out of the house.
It will take some effort to do so, especially if you've already been working from home for a while. Yes, it requires putting clothes on and walking or driving somewhere, but it's totally worth it. A change of scenery can do wonders for your productivity and your mental health.
Make it your mission to work some place other than your apartment at least once a week, and then work your way up if you like it. Find that lovely local café, discover cool places in the city that offer a work atmosphere and a good Wi-Fi connection, or go to the park. Whatever works for you.
Or, you can simply find co-working spaces which are now sprouting like crazy in all bigger cities in the world. These are great for your productivity, while they also give you a chance to network and be around other people who are there for the same reason.
And guess what, if you're feeling adventurous, you can become a digital nomad and work from anywhere in the world. It takes courage, but it will be one of the greatest adventures of your life.
Remote Office Essentials
All that being said, you will need one key thing if you want to make the most of remote work - a completely portable office. You need a set of essentials you will be able to take with you wherever you want to work that day, whether it's a nearby café, a co-working space or a hotel room in Bangkok.
You'll want to be as mobile as possible so you'll need to strip it down only to the essentials.
First of all, you'll need a reliable laptop but I'm guessing you already have one in your home office. And if you don't, make sure your next laptop is light enough to carry around with ease.
However, if you don't have a quality headset, it's time to invest in one asap. You will be working in cafes, parks, possibly even trains stations and airports - in short, a lot of loud, crowded places. A top-notch headset will be essential when you want to zone out with your tunes or get in touch with people from your office.
Since you'll be moving with your gear a lot, you will need a comfortable and reliable backpack with a padded laptop sleeve. Patagonia Arbor Pack 26L Backpack is an excellent choice for sporty and outdoorsy people, and it will get you covered for all the stuff you're bringing along.
Stylish telecommuters will love the sophisticated solution like the Bellroy Laptop Sleeve that provides a slim protection for your laptop and extras while you're on the move.
Keep your cash and cards safe when you travel with a sleek and efficient Status Anxiety Conquest Leather Passport Wallet.
Patagonia Arbor Pack 26L Backpack - Black
Bellroy Laptop Sleeve Extra 12" - Warm Grey Woven
Status Anxiety Conquest Leather Passport Wallet - Tan
Make sure you never run out of power on your smart phone or tablet with a handy Sparkstone Portable Device Charger. This way you'll always be able to keep the communication going with your teammates even if your idea of a perfect work day includes a cabin in the mountains.
For the fans of the good old pen-to-paper method, the clever Bellroy Leather Notebook Cover will be a great companion. It doesn't matter whether you're a creative professional who likes to keep a work journal or jot down ideas, or if you're a practical soul who wants a backup of the key information, you're going to love this timeless piece.
And finally, don't forget to stay hydrated during your work day wherever that day takes you. The adorable Frank Green Reusable 340ml Smart Coffee Cups allow you to take your coffee/tea wherever you go, and even pay for your coffee with your cup. They are not just practical, but also help you save the planet.
Sparkstone Portable Device Charger - Medium/Grey
Bellroy Leather Notebook Cover - Eucalyptus
Frank Green Reusable 340ml Smart Coffee Cup - Pale Yellow/Pink Blush/Dusty Jade
Get Out There
If you take one piece of advice from this article, it should be "get out there." Remote work can be an amazing opportunity to experience a different, liberating lifestyle. But, you'll need to get off your couch, put some clothes on and go outside.
Whether your ideal workspace is a café, a bench in a park, a crowded train headed to an exotic location or a little corner at home that's just yours, it's all the same. Just take the opportunity and turn the world into your office.
Are you already a telecommuter? What are your favourite places to work? Let us know in the comments below.