How To Work Remotely – And Enjoy It, Too
Joseph Callaars - 9th August 2016
I’ve never been attracted to the idea of working in an office. I always felt like the office killed creativity, morale, and spirit. Days are spent droning into an office, trying to push yourself to create any amount of forced productivity that might exist. In 2009, I decided to stop forcing it and decided to go fully remote. Instantly. No starting part time; no testing the waters. I went all in. Of course, it took getting used to at the beginning… but I knew my income, my livelihood depended on it. I took the changes in my routine seriously and enforced discipline.
I felt everything was going smoothly. There were daily talks, Skyping, chatting… the whole lot. But the companies I worked with were all companies that had a majority of their employees working on-site. Although they allowed some of us to work remotely, the overall attitude was one of distrust. The automatic assumption was that we weren’t working and there was always someone watching me closely.
It wasn’t until I joined Clevertech in 2014 that I noticed something. There is a huge difference between working remotely and remote work.
Clevertech is a fully remote company. There is no office, no people in a centralized location… everyone is spread around the world, working together efficiently.
This type of working environment was new to me. Where I was previously having to defend my work and my professionalism, Clevertech immediately trusted me (and expected me) to work excellently without the boss looking over my shoulder.
Here at Clevertech, we mostly make use of Slack and Zoom but it’s not about the tools we use; it’s about the way we use them. We are dotted all over the globe but we talk to each other constantly about the things we are doing, the way we are implementing them, and how we should approach certain tasks. It’s much more communicative than working in an office ever was for me. Even with the major time zone differences, we’re still able to be effective and trust that we’re all professionals working toward the same goal.
Remote work is not for everybody; I get that. But for me, there is no reason to ever go back to an office. My time with Clevertech has helped me to grow my creativity, professionalism, overall mental and physical health, and my familial relationships. No office job can ever do that!
What does a ‘typical day’ mean for a remote worker?
I’m based in the UK and my current client is based in the Los Angeles area, which means I’m a full 8 hours ahead of them. Therefore, my day is slightly different than the normal 9-to-5 worker.
My 2 young boys wake me every day at 7:30am (no need for an alarm clock!). We complete our morning routine and have a family breakfast. Then, I walk my eldest to school, drop him off, walk the scenic route back to the house, and start to make some coffee.
I sit down to work around 9:30am. I check out the things I missed last night, see if I am mentioned anywhere, and review any progress made on issues relating to my work. I greet the people at Clevertech who are already up and start with my day.
Around noon, I take a two hour break for my lunch. This allows me to have more overlap with my client. I spend my break playing some video games, reading, meditating, or taking a long walk of an hour or longer. I live in a very rural area; so why not enjoy it, right?
At 2:00pm, I usually start work again. Most of my current team is awake and working, as well. Everyday at 5:00pm, we hold a stand up. Most of the team discusses what they completed the day before and what they plan to do today. I discuss what I completed today and what I am going to do tomorrow. It’s funny how that works. After a good 15 to 20 minute stand up, I enjoy dinner with my family. Then, I continue to work until around 8:00pm.
I like my schedule. I get to spend more time with my kids and they regularly bring me drawings to put on the wall for everyone to see. They know that when my door is closed, they can’t come in without knocking and that when my door is open, I can be distracted. This would never happen with traditional office work.
What tips would you offer to someone who wants to start remote work?
Don’t work remotely for companies that aren’t remote first. They will almost always have a bit a distrust for you and the communication will almost always be lacking. It’s too easy for those who work in an office to meet up without you, causing you to miss out on specific information or context.
Once you do find a remote first company, set a schedule for yourself that you can keep from Day One. You can change it and perfect it over time but start with a schedule right away. The hardest part of remote work is creating and keeping consistency and discipline. If you can handle that, you’ll be set.
See if life as a Clevertech remote worker is for you: