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Working Remotely: It’s all about lemons and pajamas

By October 18, 2013 No Comments

Remote work, like everything else, is something you can grow into.

The best way to ensure your success is to have a can-do attitude. You need to keep a positive and realistic view on things and keep learning. More than anything, I learned how to make the best of everything life threw at me, whether it was a remote job or a bad situation.

I transformed the lemons of remote work into lemonade, and paired it with some mint flavored cupcakes.

Lemon no. 1: Lack of social interaction

It can be really difficult to sit in front of the computer all alone, especially when customers are on holiday and you just have one or two people asking simple, 5-minute questions.

What worked best for me was to use this time to think about possible improvements, dig for golden ideas buried in old e-mails and look for ways to grow into a better person altogether. If it gets really lonely you can consider buying a dog, but be prepared to have him biting your toes during team meetings (believe me, I have one).

Lemon no. 2: Out of sight…

Here, the issue is twofold: your coworkers don’t realize if a lot of customers suddenly decided to contact you, right when they ask you to help deal with a situation, and they also can’t see when you’re in a lull and would welcome a new project.

On the bright side, I saw a huge improvement in my ability to focus as I have fewer interruptions. Chats and emails are so much easier to handle when you don’t overhear so many discussions during the day. It’s just me and my laptop. I write and test and test and write. And sometimes I don’t even realize it’s 6 p.m. and I should already log off.

Lemon no. 3: Following up

You can’t bump into someone, or drop by unannounced in their office to ask about a bug you reported “x” weeks ago. As a remote worker you can only send an email, chat or exceptionally call; you need to monitor closely, plan ahead and handle the issue at hand like a boss.

The Sugar: Sweet stuff

No more commuting, freezing in buses and unwanted attention from random people. Jumping out of the shower and landing in front of the computer is one of the secret pleasures of life. As a Dutch translator once told me “I’m still in my pajamas at 4 p.m., but nobody really cares as long as I get the job done.” I personally have a Superman pajama, but Germany’s way too cold for it – I ended up going for geeky hoodies. However, pajamas are still an option…

Extra reading

Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
The Four Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferriss
Remote Works: BeBanjo Spain, Blog post by 37 signals
Manage your Virtual Support Team, Blog post by Zendesk
The Pro’s Guide to Working Remotely, by Adam Popescu on Mashable

On my reading list:

Remote, also by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

For those with a sense of humour

Why Working at home is both awesome and horrible” by the Oatmeal. Note: Not 100% accurate. Well. In my experience, anyways.

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