Working remotely

For a better way of life

Introduction

You take your car every morning to go to the office, subject yourself to the wild conditions of the traffic. Then you repeat the same process on the evening. And five days of the week. Do you see a pattern here?

As a programmer, I try to create DRY code (Don’t repeat yourself), but my professional life pathetically isn’t DRY. I was wasting from one to two hours in a car each day. Twenty hours a month, a thousand hours a year, a medium sized project. Wasted hours.

I had to find a solution in order to stop being frustrated from this state of things. I had to begin working from home.

Company resistance

It was very clear that my time and performance should benefit from saving those hours lost in transportation being unproductive. Inexplicably, my successive bosses since I began working didn’t share my opinion. On the same time, the evolution of technology was proving otherwise time after time. It was clear that staying at home would benefit both sides. The company would save money, office space, benefit from your happiness.

So why?

While they didn’t say directly, I believe the main issue was trust. Managers often are control freaks. How could my boss check on me while absent from the office? I had to prove I was worth their trust. This and the fact I often had to work from home on week-ends helped to achieve gaining this new freedom.

I was also benefiting of a medical condition. I was undergoing an eye surgery and it helped me achieving my goal. I was going less to the office and working more at home.

Shifting the wasted hours into productive tasks

What should you do with the time you gain? You could sleep more, get a healthier life. But you could also use this time to learn new skills. By waking up every morning at the same hour you used too, you could force yourself – at the beginning and turn this into a habit – to learn new skills for your work or learn a set of non-work-related skills. It doesn’t have to be much time, at least at the beginning. Frequency matters more than the time you spend each day. Habits are made of repetition.

In my work area, it was obvious I should use this time to develop new programming skills. The small amount of time spending each day rapidly changed into a side project.

Do you have the right conditions?

It can be strange in the beginning to be working at home. Home is the place where you live with your family, care of the kids, spend time with your wife or husband. While working, you must be focused on your work. At they end of your working day, you will need to resume your husband, wife and parent activity. This is not easy to separate.

You will also need to isolate yourself in order to achieve the same results as when you were working at the office.

Having a barking dog, shouting kids, would create a bad image when talking to your customers or co-workers on the phone. You cannot afford this. Remember that the thrust you brought to your management in order for them to let you work from home with very few supervision can rapidly be destroyed.

It’s important you use one of your house division for work purposes. It will have the double advantages to make you isolated from the rest of your house and will make it easier to reconnect with your personal life after your job.

It’s important your work environment is different from your personal life. Many professionals report the main reason why they don’t choose to work from home is the too many distractions available. If you don’t have the possibility to create a room for the purpose of an office, you might want to choose to work outside, in calm cafés, parcs, when the weather allows it, or simply by renting one of those co-working spaces.

Self-employed or working for someone – Finding the right job

The choice is not an easy one. Some people play well together, some don’t and prefer to work alone and are professionally mature to take their own decisions. In the other hand being self-employed presents a greater risk, while working for a company will shield you from the absence of work. The pay check is also different, variable in the first case, but with huge potential, pretty much the same every month when working for some company.

Seeking help to achieve both situations also can be done remotely from the comfort of your house. Some online resources will help to get connected with companies searching for remote workers and provide valuable information. I can name FlexJobs.com, weworkremotely.com or working nomads. All have great articles about how this is done. However, in my opinion, it is still very difficult to switch from an inhouse position to a remote one. After-all, why should you be trusted in the first place.

If you are a freelancer, having your work posted as example for portfolio purposes can help you open some doors and get new customers. You can also promote your services on fiverr or freelancer.com. There are many other sites, but as you compete globally, you will find it hard to keep your head above the water.

In both situations, you will need to be far more organized than you were before. There are a lot of tools on the web allowing teams to work remotely. I could name WhiteRabbitService.com to help you register and invoice your working time. Slack to communicate accurately. Trello to work collaboratively. Dropbox to store and share documents. OneNote or EverNote to easily share documents. Milestone Planner to plan your projects…

The drawbacks

For me, the main drawback is the fridge is near. I can’t really find anything else, but I share my professional life between home and the office, making both more bearable. I would probably find other raising situations while working home full time, but again I find myself to be working from home material having predisposition for such.

According to many of colleagues at work, they are not even considering this option.

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