What I’ve Learned from Being Remote-First

I’ve been fortunate enough to work 60% remote for the past ~3 years. I’ve learned a ton about time management, responsibility to yourself and your team, and how to avoid cabin fever.

In these uncertain times, those who can are moving to work from home, and many have never (or very limitedly) done so before. 

Remote-first working

If you are now working remotely, I’d suggest a couple of things:

  1. Invest in some good gear. My top two pieces of remote gear are a noise-cancelling headset and a desktop mic. Standing desks are another important consideration, brought up by my friend, César. There are conversion kits if you have an existing desk in addition to a wide range of pre-made desk options. Do NOT ignore ergonomics. Your body will thank you.
  2. Learn to separate your work from home life. For me, this meant setting up an office which offers a small respite from the tiny furry devils known as “cats.” I never take calls or code from my bed. If you set hours, stick to them. Do not let your work hours creep. Set boundaries. My friend, Daniel, pointed out something very important: unless you 100% want to, working through meals is extremely discouraged.
  3. Stay active. Considering the circumstances I can’t recommend getting out and about, but even something as small as a phone call or video chat can alleviate the ennui that comes with the isolation of working remotely. Move around. Do some pushups if you’re able. Walk around a bit. My personal preference is 5-15 minutes every hour. 
  4. Learn to self manage. If you’re used to someone breathing down your neck to deliver units of work, you might find yourself slacking because “hey, I’ll get it done eventually, they’re not here to harass me.” That was a slippery slope for me at first. Whatever you commit to, or are accountable for, make sure you get it done. But like I said in point 2, don’t feel you’re accountable for any extra work, because “you don’t have to commute” or are in the comfort of your home.

Making Remote Work for You

This is all just my experience though. You’ll learn what works for you as you adapt to working in a non-traditional environment. This advice does not take into account ableism or other considerations, so if you have advice to offer that might help people in that sort of situation, please share.

If you or your job are new to remote collaboration, I can offer advice for tooling and procedure but that’s a topic for another post. Shout out to 1904labs for being willing to let us have the autonomy and trust to let us explore fully remote work.

Stay home. Stay safe. Use common sense. And once again, if you need help in any way or just want someone to listen, I am here. 

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