I have been working remotely for over a year now. I am completing one year at rtCamp soon and before that, I was doing some consulting remotely. During this period, I thought about how I could make remote-work work, and this meant I read some articles and books from people much smarter than I am.
One such book is called REMOTE by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. I took a lot of notes while reading this book and have always wanted to compile it into a blog post. I think now is a good time to do it. This post will include bits and pieces from my experience as well as from other sources. 🤓
This post is intended for workers and not necessarily at employers. But hope everyone would find some benefit from it.
Get really good at communication
Many of the companies I have worked with use Slack and Zoom for their communication. It’s a good idea to get good at these tools and to practice your communication skills. I love to write (which is the main reason for this blog), but I still needed to work on the nuances of instant messages.
For instance, it’s great to use emojis as much as possible, to convey non-verbal expressions. I mean if you spoke to me face to face, you will know I am smiling right now. Since you are not, adding a 😊 will convey my emotion to you.
Be nice; be authentic.
This may sound conflicting, but it really isn’t. You may have heard of the phrase “fake it till you make it”. While it may work at certain times, it really plays better in the long term if you learn to “actually make it”.
Kindness, generosity, and empathy are now ever more important than before. Read a bit about emotional intelligence and avoid being “passive-aggressive” – very important if you want to get ahead whether in an office or a remote environment.
Have some kind of routine
This can be the most difficult thing when you start working remotely, at least for me. Being able to focus for long periods of time is a difficult skill. The good news is, it gets easier over time. I spoke about this in detail in this blog post.
Don’t be socially isolated
During the climate of the COVID-19, you would have heard advice on physical isolation. That does not mean you should isolate yourself socially!
You could talk on Zoom (or any other video calling software) with friends and family, or just talk to the folks at home and have meals together. It’s okay to engage on social media, but just be sure to follow some good practices while being there. If you think you will be negatively affected by social media, do not visit them – like someone wiser than I said.
Another thing to try is multiplayer games if you are interested in them. I am yet to do that myself. Apparently, MacBooks are not the best for playing large games.
Be predictable when working remote
By predictable, I mean responding to emails or messages or even to JIRA updates. You do not have to reply instantly to every notification you get but remember – “better late than never”.
Also important to attend all meetings that you are supposed to attend. Don’t be a 10x engineer.
Have a habit of health
This may be the most important thing. Remote working can be worse off if you do not take care of your health. This includes taking regular breaks, drinking plenty of water and doing any form of exercise you like.
It’s equally important to eat healthy food! Some of us are forced to eat home-cooked meals, so this may be an ideal time to try healthier options of food.
Good work matters!
The following is an excerpt I read somewhere, probably from the founders of Basecamp:
There are two fundamental ways not to be ignored:
- Make noise
- Make progress, do exceptional work.
Fortunately, for remote workers “the work” is the measure that matters.
Read this book from Scott Berkun
A friend working at Automattic suggested that I read this book. I took their advice and started reading but am yet to finish it. The book is titled “The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work” and the kindle version is free on Amazon right now – which is why I am recommending it. It will give a lot of insights into distributed working.
Let me end with a quote from one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time: