How to Work Remotely Without Going Crazy
This is a contribution by Ronald Wolf. Ron got most of his experience from consulting web design and SEO companies like GWM.
I added line breaks, text formatting and clarified some points, especially the last paragraph. Ron approved the changes.
Many of us regard 9 to 5 office jobs as pure hell and dream of working remotely. It seems like a dream come true –
- you can establish your own working hours
- you can design your own working surroundings
- and – most importantly – you can work from everywhere in the world.
But is it really that simple? Working without the strains of office cubicles and the need to punch the clock requires self-discipline, and we all know that this isn’t the most common characteristic.
Working remotely doesn’t mean you don’t have a boss anymore and there are some challenges you’ll have to face along the way.
Taking this path also has its rules. They seem quite simple, but they are not that easy to accomplish as they seem.
When you are someone who is used to having a boss breading down your neck, getting the work done remotely could make you crazy.
This is the number one common mistake: the fact that you were productive in the office doesn’t mean you’re gonna stay productive at home.
Now that you don’t have strict working hours it may seem that you can work whenever you want. This is where the problem starts – when do we actually want to work?
This is how your productivity decreases, and in the end, you’ll be forcing yourself to get the job done which will make the task even harder.
It will seem to you that you have even less time for yourself than you had it while working in the office.
It’s a contradiction that will certainly make you crazy after some time. To avoid that, you need to make your own working schedule, and you need to stick to it.
At the beginning, it’s good to keep the same working hours you had in the office and then to slowly adapt them to your own needs. Contrary to the popular belief, this is not an easy transition!
You will need time to make it function. You need to find the time of the day when you feel most productive and make the most of it.
Only after you establish your own individual schedule you will be able to make exceptions and enjoy fully deserved freedom.
This second most common mistake affects your productivity through the lack of concentration. Even when you’re alone it can be hard to focus.
Everybody is trying to escape from depressing office cubicles, but working from your comfortable couch at home is going to make it hard for you to focus on the tasks at hand.
There are various distractions inside everybody’s home – family obligations (especially when you have kids), pets, the temptation to turn on the TV, etc.
The constant lure of distractions is why you need to set up a working space in your home that will become your new office.
You need a place where you can shut the door behind you to fully dedicate yourself to the work that needs to be done.
You should carefully consider which part of your home is most suitable to become an office.
Soft furniture in which you can ‛sink in’ is not the best solution because you don’t want to fall asleep in the middle of your work. Also your back will hurt after a few hours.
You need an organized desk and a firm chair (which doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a comfortable one). Get rid of all distraction along with a TV set (unless your line of work requires it).
Having a broad window and a lot of natural light is always a plus, but a view can sometimes be distracting as well.
In case you happen to work in a seaside town during the peak of the summer, it would be a smart move to pull the shades down.
And the last thing – dress up for the occasion. You’re not in an office so you don’t need a suit and a tie, but you’re not supposed to spend an entire day in your pajamas, either.
Get up and get dressed properly. This way you won’t fall into a temptation to remain in your bed with a laptop in your lap.
This is not even a mistake, this is a pure delusion. There are some jobs that are impossible to be done by working remotely. Trying to get them done this way can only drive you completely crazy.
It’s understandable that everyone would like to travel the world and work while doing it, but first, you need to make sure you’ve got the right job for that.
The second thing is that you can’t just sit at home (or a beach) and do everything that falls into your hands. Even when you’re working in the office you need to ‛fight’ for your assignments.
It’s not a secret that there is a competition between co-workers, especially today when no job position is safe and it’s becoming more difficult to stand out.
When you’re working remotely you have no insight into the activities of your colleagues and you’re practically left in the dark in many cases.
The further you are from the office, the more your professional visibility decreases. People might even completely forget about you and your skills.
Every established company is advised to highlight personal strengths of every employee on their website and frequently update them.
Potential customers may not be able to meet you in the office so they need to be able to meet you online – out of sight is out of mind.
Thank you to Chris King, Bill Marshal and Andrew Akesson for helping me with the crazy headline!
Having been a freelance web designer and SEO for the last 10 years I can relate to much of this. Fortunately I’m sufficiently perfectionist to have plenty of motivation and comfortable in working on my own. But even so I do sometimes miss the ability to bounce ideas off other people to get a different perspective. Those of a more social disposition may find that aspect hard.
My main difficulty hasn’t been working enough hours, it’s been working too many. It’s just too easy to continue working into what should be your leisure time when there’s a deadline, and then continuing to do that later; and this is something you really need to be aware of to avoid burn-out. Only now that I’m reducing my clients and moving towards early retirement am I beginning to make enough time for myself.
Home or remote working isn’t for everyone and there are many pitfalls – both practical and psychological – so make sure it suits you before you commit to it.
Thank you for the valuable feedback. Indeed I had the problem too. Work would just encroach upon everything including evenings and weekends but my health suffered and then I had to establish a rigorous schedule with screen free time after work. I work less and earn more ever since.
I am currently interning at company called Ignitur and we are free to work remotely. This is great for me because I have a job that i work on site. Being able to work remotely help me gain experience digital marketing and not have worry about where my income will come from.
I also dont think that working remotely help you loose your professionalism but that it weakens your social skills and understanding of organizational culture.
Working remotely is stress and tension free. I think one can still be organized and do work in a timely manner. At Ignitur we offer task management software that help digital marketers working remotely keep track of their work progress. The task management software gives them access to all essential marketing tools from 1 central place. That is they dont have to type in urls, contantly sign/in/out into different programs or create bookmarks. They just need to login to ignitur.com
Thank you for the thorough feedback Alphonse!
Working remotely can be also stressful but it largely depends on your organizational skills.
I looked up the site you recommend but it’s quite broken on my Firefox. Is it Chrome only?
Update: The site you suggest is unavailable from Germany. Why does it block me?