Having spent a lot of time working remotely for Enigin and various other companies, i’ve compiled a list of what I consider to be the ultimate guide to remote working. Often called ‘working from home’, but that’s way too descriptive.
1) Prove it works
The first thing you need to do is to persuade your employer to allow you to have a trial period working out of the office. This may not be easy if you work for an old-fashioned company, but most technology companies, including Enigin, are very open to ideas which increase employee happiness and productivity.
You need to be smart at approaching this subject with your employer. I compiled a list of benefits and case studies from other companies who allow a large percentage of their full-time staff to work remotely. Sell the benefits rather than dwell of the fact that you’re not in the office.
Once you’ve completed a trial period, talk about working from home on a regular basis, maybe once or twice a week.
2) Technology is your friend!
There are many ways to communicate with your office people. Skype is the main programme which I use and it is more than just a voice application. You can use it to share screens with other colleagues, send large files and also to use it for group chat. We also have access to our company file server via a VPN (Virtual Private Network) link.
In the development team we also have access to an online source control repository, which holds all of our programming code. This enables us to work together on projects, as if we where sat opposite each other in the office.
3) Forget the 9 – 5, but be available
If you are remote working then you shouldn’t feel you need to put in a 9-5 working day. How about 6-2? or 12-8? or 7-10 and 12-4?
Try to find your most productive hours of the day, if you can fit 8 hours work into 6 then you should enjoy the fact that you finished early that day (or get a head start on the next project).
There’s once big caveat to this. ALWAYS BE AVAILABLE! If your colleagues need to contact you during normal working hours then you need to ensure you are available. If the poop hits the fan and you’re not on the radar then your working from home days are going to cause resentment among your office-based buddies! Not good. Always be available, even if you’re not always in front of a computer.
Interestingly enough, I usually find myself working longer when at home!
4) ‘Working from home’ redefined
Everyone talks about working from home, but why limit yourself? In the building next to my apartment there’s a great little cafe/bar which provide free wi-fi. A pair of headphones and I can work just as effective as I can from home or the Enigin office. Generally no-one bothers you and you’re only a few steps away from lunch and drinks!
5) Get the work done!
Remote working allows you a flexibility you’ve probably never had before. If you are not a self-motivated individual then it’s easy to just think of it as a day off. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your company is paying you to operate remotely just like any other working day. You need to make sure you get the expected level of work completed.
If you are seen to be dropping in terms of productivity then your days working remotely are probably coming to an end.
6) Be social – People are good for you!
If you are going to be working from home for a sustained period of time then you need to ensure you don’t suffer from ‘cabin fever’ – being locked up on your own for a long time. Try to find some time in your day to get out or visit some friends. Being around other people can be a real motivator and being somewhere like a cafe really helps with this. I find it pretty cool working from home in the morning and then heading out to a cafe for lunch and then working for a few hours after lunch in the same place.
7) Quit, if it doesn’t work out
If you discover that working remote doesn’t work for you personally, then don’t be slow in giving it up. It’s better if you decide it’s not working rather than your company does. You can always try again in a few weeks/months.
To maintain concentration whilst remote working takes a certain amount of self-motivation. It’s not for everyone and it’s fairly easy to get distracted but it’s a great way to work if you can get it right!
Photo by Giorgio Montersino (http://www.flickr.com/photos/novecentino/2340521934/)