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20 Tips from Remote Work Veterans on How to Have the Best Experience Ever

The things you need to know if you have just become or are thinking about becoming a remote worker

Chris Herd

This article was published on LinkedIn by Chris Herd, Founder & CEO @ Firstbase

The remote work experience is fast becoming the ignored, missing and critical part of the future of work. We’ve reached a point where the virtual tools needed to operate remotely have been built and what remains are the harder infrastructure points which establish and maintain culture, experience, and consistency. These things are key as remote work continues to grow globally, and if it is to ever compete with the office in particular. Companies who excel in meeting the needs of their remote workers will succeed because of it. The key takeaway from this list is that the things which lead to a great remote working experience are small, but consistently workers have been left to fend for themselves.

Why is this important?

Remote work is the biggest workplace revolution in history and nothing will deliver a higher quality of life increase in the next decade than this. Workers having more flexibility to decide their work schedule, able to operate when they are most productive rather than a fixed day, enables a far better future of work than the one we currently experience. Organizing work around your life is a huge transition with major implications. Gone is the requirement to beg your bosses permission to go to an appointment, it is the ability to drop and pick your child up from work every day with time in the afternoon to go for your recharging run.

Being handcuffed to an office and expected to live in a high cost of living city with a low quality of life is a remnant of the industrial revolution. The devolution of offices into almost factory-like conditions as distraction factory adult kids clubs is complete. The office has literally become the worst place on the planet to get the issolation and focus you need to do deep work.

Make no mistake, remote work is exploding to prominence right now. We are living through the inflection point today. Shortly, workers will realize their power and influence to demand remote work.

I actually think I’m being pessimistic when I state that remote work will be the dominant form of work within a decade. If the right tools exist it will be more like 5 years.

123m people working remotely this decade

There’s a real possibility that’s how soon it will happen. The sooner you make the transition the better. Great workers with an evidenced ability to work remotely will be the most sought after team members in the world within 2–3 years.

With that being said, I wanted to share the best pieces of advice I have since becoming a remote worker. Not every piece of advice is applicable to everyone, but there is a nugget in here that you could benefit from if you integrate it into your routine:

1. 💺 Get a Great Chair

This is about more than just comfort, it’s about safety. Having the right chair is the easiest way to ensure your posture is right and you are able to do great work.

Don’t be cheap on this item. A great chair might not last a lifetime but it will last for at worst half a decade, in many instances the entire decade.

2. 🗣Understand Asynchronous Work

Offices are instantaneous gratification distraction factories where synchronous work makes it impossible to get stuff done. The office at home lets you return to the optimum environment to do deep focussed work.

To do that you need to understand the differences between synchronous and asynchronous working. It takes some time, but when everyone on a team is freed from the need to be instantly available teams productivity skyrockets.

3. ✍️ Over Communicate

Great communication is the table stakes for effective remote teams. This mean documenting processes and decision making so that anyone can click into a document and follow along.

What follows is a need for transparency, openness, and accessibility. Great written communicators are the Superheroes of remote teams. It requires a switch to longer-form more thoughtful answers & deep reading, which is why remote teams are higher functioning.

4. 🆘 Ask for help regularly

To be successful as a remote worker you need to be comfortable admitting when you don’t know something.

Knowing when and whom to ask for help on certain things lets you supercharge your productivity. That might mean organizing a quick call or sending a short note.

5. 🥗 Go to lunch with people

Remote work is tarred with the brush of loneliness, which simply isn’t true but it seems to have stuck. To avoid that, go to lunch with people. Ask friends or family to grab a bite to eat at least once a week.

Find other remote workers operating in the city. Remote work can be the most social working experience you have ever had – building deep, meaningful relationships with people whom you have a lot in common. The tradeoff is that it takes effort. It’s worth it.

6. 🏃‍♂️ Pick up an active hobby

Find something you love to do that keeps you healthy. Working remotely gives you the freedom and time to pursue it, so find something.

No longer having to commute for two hours a day gives you ample time to find something. Whether that’s a long morning walk, a peloton bike, or a yoga class, find it, do it, love it.

7. ✈️ Travel as much as you can

Being unshackled from city living is a very liberating experience. You are no longer forced to stay at a high cost, low quality of life area. You can live anywhere, go everywhere. Life is no longer organized around work, work can be organized around your life.

Too many people don’t leverage this. You can travel while working easily, there is an abundance of locations that have awesome connectivity and that’s all you need.

8. ⏰ Know when to finish the day

Learn when to put down your tools for the day and leave your workspace. The general fear of managers is that remote workers slack off. The reality is quite different.

Remote workers tend to work longer hours and are more prone to burnout. Developing a routine that works is essential. Knowing when to finish is a critical skill to learn.

9. ❤️ More time for family & friends

Not having to waste 25 days a year commuting is huge. Spend that time building deeper, more meaningful relationships with the people you care about most.

Remote work should lead to a far higher quality of life. A large part of that will come from your family, kids, and friends knowing you far better than they ever did when you worked in an office.

10. 🕐 Have a daily routine

A routine helps you segment your Worklife and operate most efficiently. Every day I wake up, work out, read, eat breakfast with my family, drop the kids, then get to work.

I take an hour for lunch, finish around four to give me more time with family, and get another hour or two in once they are in bed. My day is split between different focusses in order for me to optimize my productivity. Experiment with this and find what’s right for you.

11. 🦸 Find a great mentor

This is probably the most underappreciated advice people follow. A mentor helps you navigate obstacles you don’t even see coming up.

At this point, there are a lot of people who have worked remotely for a long time. Ask them questions, trade advice, seek best practices. They are like special forces commandos, seen, experienced and done everything. They are always willing to share.

12. 💁 Get a standing desk

Anything that lets you shift your position is advised.

A standing desk lets you cycle between up and down, helping you stay active.

13. ☀️ Dedicated workspace

Having a space in your home which is dedicated to getting your work done helps with a number of things. Most importantly it gives you somewhere to go while in work mode.

Mentally, when you step away from it, it can help you psychologically finish your day. This doesn’t have to be a separate room, it can simply be an organized space that you always work from.

14. ✍️ Set boundaries with family

It’s important that your family and friends understand that remote working means you are working too. You have things to do, that means you can’t pop to the shop to do an errand on a whim.

Remote work is great for being able to be flexible around certain things, dropping kids at school for example. This shouldn’t spill over to being expected to collect parcels because you can.

15. 😴 Jump on calls

It’s easy to get sucked into the communication vacuum of slack and emails and lose the nuance of face to face conversation. Resist the urge to do this because it is easy.

Meetings especially, everyone should be on camera. For blended teams, we have found everyone zooming into a call, even if they are physically the same room makes for a far better environment and experience for the remote team dialing in.

16. 👀 Document everything

The superpower of remote teams is that processes can be systemized incredibly easily. Our team went as far as to create manuals for communication in slack.

When someone has an issue you can guarantee they won’t be the last. Create detailed wikis where workers can go to first if they have the same issue.

17. 🌍 Have a great microphone

It’s hard to quantify a great remote work experience, but we know it when we hear it. We’ve all been on calls where it sounds like the person on the other end of the line is talking into a potato.

A great microphone, for every single person on a team, lets you guarantee consistency across the organization for a relatively small investment. Pay the price, reap the reward.

18. 👟 Get dressed for work

The things we do set our mindset towards the things we are about to do. It’s all about the mental signaling that you are ready to work.

The right clothing is something that puts you in the right mindset. It is very easy and is something that should be part of your routine.

19. 🏃‍♀️ Actively participate

Don’t become a ghost in your company, participate, share emotionally, be present even if that means doing so virtually.

Remote workers can recede into the background and just become a cog in the machine but they don’t have to. Actively taking part is a choice and one that can be done async.

20. 👟 Get more screens

You want to be as safe, comfortable and productive at home as you would be in an office. To do that you need comparable equipment. This is something that companies seem to scrimp on and the implication is that there is a far worse experience for your remote teams.

Your team’s writing code should have two screens. Everyone should have a mouse, a keyboard, and an ergonomic setup. This is not something to cut corners on. Provide a great experience and your teams will repay you in productivity and loyalty.

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