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Reflecting On One Year of Remote Work

karaluton profile image Kara Luton ・3 min read

When I was first presented with the opportunity to work remotely I was ecstatic. What could be better than no commute and working from the comfort of my own home?! And while both of those things are great perks, learning to love the remote life took some time.

To be completely honest, there was a point where I didn't enjoy working remotely. I'm naturally an introvert but I still enjoy socializing with others. I missed having those in-person interactions that I would get in an office. But now, one year later, I'm extremely happy working remotely and I'm reflecting on what has made it easier for myself. Hopefully, these tips can help someone else who is joining the work from home movement.

Have a dedicated office space

You may be tempted to work from your couch or even your bed when you first start to work from home but it isn't the best idea. You need to separate your workspace from your home space. I have my desk in our very underutilized guest room. I hardly ever go in this space on the weekends so I have that clear separation of work time and relaxing time.

Stick to a schedule

As a type A personality who loves routines, sticking to a schedule has made me love the remote life more. I like to have some downtime in the mornings so I wake up a few hours before I need to start working, jump in the shower, eat breakfast and get ready for the day. I act the same way I would as when I would go into the office each day but I wear much comfier clothes now.

I also am sure to take a lunch break away from my desk. Being at home, it's super tempting to eat at your desk and work through lunch but it's important to take that time for yourself.

Get out of your office once in a while

Something that has really impacted my opinion on working from home is that I now try to get out of my home office at least once a week. I enjoy checking out coffee shops and working from there for the day. I usually invite any friends that also work remotely or I send a message on my local Slack group to see if anyone wants to join me. While I do miss my giant monitor at home, it's nice to change up the scenery every once in a while and get out into the "real world".

Participate in team offsite trips

My team is highly distributed so while the majority of my team works remotely as I do, others work in various offices. My team gets together a few times a year in one location. These offsite trips are absolutely a necessity in my opinion. The difference they make is huge and I really suggest to have an offsite if you work on a remote team.

I felt so much better after my first offsite, which happened to be one week after I joined the team. It made the people I worked with actually feel like real humans and not just a photo.


I'd love to hear any advice you have if you also work from home. Leave a comment below!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for lots of posts about tech, and if I'm being honest, lots of posts about dogs too.

Discussion

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coderdaddy profile image
Another Coder Daddy

Very well written article! I have been working remotely for the past 6 years and found it to be ideal for me due to above mentioned reasons. However, like you said there are ‘rules’ to follow if you want this to work for you. My wife works from home too and our kids come home early afternoon. The most challenging thing I found is to ‘be mentally present’ and work at the same time. I do have dedicated working space and room, but switching context is super costly and harmful to kids and marriage. Hence, recently I have started to go to the office twice or trice a week to lower the impact of me being mentally absent. My only advice to those who is going to make a switch and have family at home, when you work you are not there, it might be better to be physically not there too, this way your relationship with your spouse and kids not deteriorate. Good luck!

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karaluton profile image
Kara Luton Author

Great advice!

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pinotattari profile image
Riccardo Bernardini

I work at a University and remote working is quite natural for me. Since I do research in signal processing, I have no need of a lab; paper, pen and PC with a connection suffice for most of my needs. Of course, I have teaching period and faculty meetings that require my physical presence, but otherwise I can work at home.

I agree with what you write. I have a small "studio" with my PC and I mostly work in there (although every now and then I feel the need for a more comfortable coach). When I feel the need for a break I go to the kitchen to have a coffee or a fruit, I always have my lunch in the kitchen, I never had the idea of eating at my desk.

I notice that usually I am much productive at home, I really do not know why. It is not that I am constantly interrupted at work or it is a noisy environment or something, but I am able to concentrate more at home. Maybe is it just the familiar environment?

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Cory McDonald

Hey there! Do you have any problems with communication while being remote? I feel like one of the challenges I have is that part of my company (the execs, product, etc) is in an office and so a lot of the communication happens there, and doesn't get distributed out to the relevant parties.

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Kara Luton Author

I'm lucky to have a company where more than half of the employees work remotely. Because of that, they really value asynchronous communication and documenting everything. But, there are also times when I do miss out on some of the conversations that do happen in the few offices that we have. One way I try to combat that is by staying extremely active on Slack. I like to let the others on my project know what I'm working on each day and see what they're up to as well.

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Mike

Great thoughts here. I wish my area had a more active group of people who worked remote. I find the schedule piece to be KEY. It's so easy to work a lot when you don't have a commute and feel like you have a lot of time. I try to spend that "commuting time" listening to a podcast and playing with my dog.

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Kara Luton Author

Totally agree! It's so nice getting that commuting time back.

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Gualtiero Frigerio

What was you main motivation to look for a remote job?
Mine would be commute, and the second would be open spaces. I don't like noisy environments, and I don't like isolating myself with huge noise cancelling headphones for the entire day.
Now some colleagues are working from home due to the corona virus problem and we communicate via Skype or slack, of course is different but I wouldn't say there is lack of communication.

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Kara Luton Author

I wasn’t specifically looking for a remote job but wasn’t opposed to one either when I was job searching.

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Kevin Macksamie

I've been working remotely full-time for over 4 years, and I agree with everything you've written. I also have a dog, which I raised while working from home, so I walk him a couple times a day to get myself out of the office. It's a win-win.

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Kara Luton Author

Definitely! I have a dog at home as well and love taking a quick break to take her on a walk.

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Marco Damaceno

I worked remotely last year for six months. The first three weeks was the same you described. After that, I felt the necessity to talk to someone. As you, I'm introvert. I ended up lefting that company to work in a local one for the same salary.

IMO, 100% remote job is not that good as some people say, but I would like to have another experience since that was my first one.

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karaluton profile image
Kara Luton Author

It's definitely not for everyone and depends on how well the company handles having remote workers.

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Yechiel Kalmenson

This is great!

I'm considering starting to look for a more remote job and I'm sure these tips will come in handy!

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Bret Williams

Hi Kara, thanks for the interesting article. Can you tell us what websites or services you used to find remote-only jobs?

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Kara Luton Author

I found my current job through Twitter, oddly enough! I've searched on We Work Remotely before though and used to check CodePen's job board as well.