It's not quite mainstream...yet. This means that despite many companies being "remote friendly", they aren't very well equipped to support their remote teams.
I was very lucky with Envato in that a couple of the early remoters before me really advocated hard for Envato to be a remote first company, and the engineering staff wanted to drive that support.
In the last 5 years, this space has started to expand. However, many companies still aren't interested in investing in remote work support and would rather invest in getting talent to come to wherever they have a physical office space.
Jacob is a Site Reliability Engineer who believes in asynchronous communication and bullet journaling - learn how he maximizes his daily "deep work" time.
Read full interview from Interview with Jacob, a site reliability engineer.
I have experienced bouts of loneliness where I can't seem to reach the coworker I need via Slack and have no insight into where they are. While not overwhelming, this feeling can sometimes chill the sunny disposition that the remote work life instills.
Furthermore, when you are on a team that is failing to build rapport due to geographic distribution, the distance feels that much more multiplied. Something as simple as whiteboard collaboration becomes a much bigger chore.
Easily, the biggest trap that's easy to fall into is working past traditional hours. You've never left the office, right?
Too often, I've neglected home errands or exercise to squeeze in "just one more hour". Before you know it, one becomes four. Is this behavior exclusive to remote work? No, but remote work definitely enables it.
For Mark, avoiding distractions and sticking to regular hours are perhaps the hardest parts of being a freelancer - learn his secrets to achieving a good workflow.
Read full interview from Interview with Mark, a programmer building bespoke business applications.
The only thing I don't like is the volatility, you can have work one day, then none the next.
John works remotely while using the latest web development technologies, learn how he works by reading his interview.
Read full interview from Interview with John, a full-stack web developer who works remotely.
Ideally I'd work in a small, quiet office a short walk from my house.
I miss having coworkers to chat to in person whenever I feel like it but between real-life friends, family and web chats there's not really any meaningful isolation.
Mike got started with remote work after getting an offer from his dream organisation. Learn how he works remotely while working on open source projects and publishing books.
Read full interview from Interview with Mike, a software engineer who works remotely at GitHub.
I am extroverted so I definitely find the isolation to be difficult at times.
Luckily, having a dedicated office space in a co-working office helps alleviate that loneliness.
Because I have that flexibility (and membership also includes perks like free coffee), that takes care of any of the downsides I would normally have with remote work. It's actually pretty great!
Learn how Adam started working remotely from a cold-email on Hacker News, to how he's using a local co-working space to grow his business.
Read full interview from Interview with Adam, a UX engineer building his own consulting company.
I like working with people and solving problems together. Brainstorming on white boards and generally talking with other people about interesting things.
Remote communication lacks the human element I find.
Nikita is an entrepreneur working on his startup while optimizing his productivity—learn how he organizes his life and work to maximize happiness
Read full interview from Interview with Nikita, an entrepreneur building a website to learn anything.
Working remotely can be isolating. I’m an introvert, and even for me the silence can get to be a bit too much. It helps to have someone else in the space with you: a spouse, significant other or another co-worker.
It’s important to make connections, so I make a point to schedule coffee, hikes or other social things with friends.
Just stepping out once for a coffee midday is a really good way to counter some of that feeling of isolation.
Scott is a designer and developer that's been working remotely since 1998, read his interview to learn how he's been successful
Read full interview from Interview with Scott about working remotely for 20 years.
It is very inconsistent to say the least. There are times I may get to work for 6 months which is great, and then no work for 6 months.
Some of the clients aren’t very understanding at all. When Hurricane Harvey hit south Texas I was in the middle of a contract where the power went out. They were so angry with me telling me to use my hotspot and a laptop to finish, but it was a natural disaster there was no power anywhere. After I went through all the extra effort to turn in something I wasn’t even paid for the work.
Some clients won’t pay out for the work you do for them, which is one reason I started at Upwork. I had one client I told not to update the software without reworking all of the scripts and they did it anyway a year later. Came back and told me to fix it because it was my fault it doesn’t work anymore.
I’ve even had a client not like the fact the person they hired wasn’t the person they wanted to see.
So a summary of not enough work, rude clients, chance of not getting paid unless you use something to manage your accounts such as Upwork, and slow.
Do not get me wrong, not all clients are like these I’ve had about 5 really horrible clients and about 14 good ones so far.
Documenting everything that includes chat logs, phone conversations, emails, contracts, company name, contractor information, phone numbers if given, literally every time I have had an issue with a client I go back to my documentation.
People in general are human and if they don’t understand why something happened or they don’t remember it is your job to make sure you can go back and find where something was done or said.
Skype saves message chat logs forever in your settings. No one should be able to rip you off if you keep everything filed. Upload it to a secondary cloud server so you will never have to worry about it.
Michael is a freelance visual effects (VFX) artist, creating 3d models, mockups and videos while working remotely.
Read full interview from Interview with Michael, a VFX artist that works remotely.
I'll admit that remote work is not for everyone.
There is a social/psychological aspect that takes a certain amount of self-awareness to overcome (e.g. not being able to interact face-to-face with your co-workers on a daily basis).
I tend to work better independently and don't have trouble communicating my personality over an email or text. This helps stave off the loneliness/distance that some feel when they work remotely.
Some people believe that you aren't able to advance your career if you work remotely because it's harder to maintain a presence with stakeholders that would have a direct affect on your ability to get a promotion or a raise.
But I'm living proof that it IS possible! I think it depends on a number of factors like the culture at the office as it relates to remote employees, what tools are in place to maintain contact, and whether there are regularly scheduled video conferences or retreats.
I have managed to advance at my current remote job because I worked hard to stay in front of people I work with as well as the fact that I'm not the only remote employee at the organization. Leadership at my organization has embraced a hybrid team to get more done and as a result, put in place certain procedures and culture that supports everyone involved.
Sarah is a digital marketing manager who travels the United States with her partner and two dogs while working remotely in her RV.
Read full interview from Interview with Sarah about working remotely from an RV.
There's a lot to like about remote, but it does require certain adjustments to personalities, habits and expectations.
Loneliness and perceived isolation. Humans are social creatures and - speaking as a lifelong introvert - there is just no substitute for face time.
Since seeing people doesn't happen organically in hallways or shared office spaces, we have to cultivate those opportunities remotely, even if it feels artificial at first.
We organize a variety of these events throughout the month - from small team talks, to company-wide lunch-and-learns & new hire meet-and-greets, to individual coworker "coffees".
I also encourage people to join or form non-work-related channels on Slack. They act as informal clubs, social outlets, and can be a great way to get to know colleagues across the organization.
Information overload. We encourage over-communication and use a variety of tools and services - like email / Slack / Basecamp / Google Docs / et cetera - to distribute it. There is a cost or burden on folks to have to find and retrieve it ("pulling"), so I also encourage folks to push that information out as much as possible.
(Example: "the schedule for X can be found [here]" and "fyi I've just updated the draft for X [here]", then looping in any key members involved.)
Timezones and asynchronous communication, in general, are foreign. Adjust your expectations, embrace the ability to "work async" instead of waiting until someone pops online and thinking you need that information right now.
Work/Life balance. It's easy to "do work" when it's no further than your pocket.
Learning to disconnect (and that it's OK to disconnect!) doesn't come naturally.
Eddie is an Engineering Director - learn how he manages to absorb interruptions and manage information overload while staying productive.
Read full interview from Interview with Eddie, an Engineering Director.
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