Working remotely is the dream job of most developers I know. It’s a hard process but it’s totally possible. Now you got the best job you could . Enjoy your new life!
The beginning. The dream.
Do you remember yourself some weeks/months ago? The first interview you did (maybe you’re not a native English speaker like me). You’ve improved a lot, you’re a better person. You’re speaking a “better English and you’re not shy “in front of” the interviewers anymore.
After resumes and more resumes, after those initial interviews, those technical ones, after doing a “sample project” to show up your skills, you got your dream job. You received an offer and you accepted it. Now you’re officially a remote worker! Congratulations to you and to your wife, because now you’re going to be at home every day, and this is really important!
Now you can work from anywhere, even traveling. Now you can be a digital nomad. Now you can work without pants, with slippers and you can wake up just a few minutes before start working. No more commuting, no more offices.
Next week you’re going to start a new step in your life. Be prepared, because your life’s going to start changing forever. I said forever.
Everything is amazing!
It’s your first day at the new job. You don’t want to be late. You woke up earlier, get dressed in that t-shirt from the last conference you went (you were introduced to TrololoJS there, do you remember that?).
You’re in front of your computer to have the first call, to meet your new team. Your team is amazing. Everyone works from home. Everyone enjoys their jobs and they’re working remotely for a while. That’s it! That’s awesome!
You got a task to be done in two or three days. You work hard and finish that task on the first day:
“Wow! Remote working is awesome. My productivity is so much better than working on site in an office. I’m a code machine.” — You
Your boss liked what you did. You’re on the right path. You did two or three more tasks efficiently. You’re doing well, good job!
The first weeks were amazing. You did a lot, you’ve learned a lot, and you figured out how your productivity is better when working from your home. You have a better quality of life and you’re even doing a better code. That’s perfect! All your relatives now know you work from home, and they don’t understand what you do, really. But it’s fine.
This process repeats for some time, generally the first 4 to 5 months. Good! A better life, a better developer. Perfect. You’re happy.
The adaptation period
Now you wake up just 10 minutes before start working. That’s what you do every day, so you’re used to it and you don’t have to wake up early anymore. And you’re right. Your productivity is still good, many tasks killed each day. You consider yourself an experienced remote worker. You really are!
Last week you did a lot. You implemented that very important feature, fixed a lot of bugs, committed 350 times and helped your wife with the lunch. She’s happy, and you too. Last week you also installed that new chandelier you bought and your living room is so much beautiful. Perfect life!
You’re working, but now you have to stop everything you’re doing to feed the dog and to take out the trash because your wife asked you too. It’s time to tell her you’re working, that you’re not at home doing nothing, so there’s some stuff you cannot help her during the working time, unfortunately. Ok, fine! You told her and she understood everything. Easy!
It’s a new week. You hear a “ding-dong” far away.
“Your dad is here. He’s going to have lunch with us today. That’s perfect! Join us!” — Your wife
Shit! You have to finish that task you did not finish yesterday. Why did your wife invite your dad today? Really today? He knows you’re working, and also she does. That cannot happen anymore.
“Hi Dad! Nice to see you here. I did not know you were coming. I’m gonna eat something quickly because I have a lot of work to do today.” — You, to your dad.
You had another conversation with your wife (and now with your dad too). It’s everything fine now, don’t worry. But you still did not finish that task from last week. Dammit!
That’s your life now
You sleep, really, but you wake up tired — and 30 minutes late. You don’t remember the last time you hang out with your friends, that you drank a beer with them.
Hey, did I say friends? Wait!? You don’t have friends anymore, it’s just you, your wife, your dog, and your kid — yes, five months ago your baby was born, because now you’re always at home, right? You can also help your wife. Congrats! You’re a father now — and still a remote worker.
“Sweet, can you change our baby’s diaper for me? I have to take a shower! Pleaseeeeee!” — Your wife
You cut the hair, but you are 35 pounds fatter now. You’re working with slippers, like always. You don’t cut your nails since last month. You don’t remember the last time you wore shoes, really. You don’t have friends, but you’re still happy because that’s the life everyone wants — and your profile picture remains the same on Facebook and Twitter, that one before you started working remotely.
A friend of you (actually not a friend, he only works remotely for a while, like you do) ask you how you are going if you’re enjoying working remotely. You say that it’s amazing! You’re very happy because you work from home, right? He started working remotely before you, so he’s facing some issues for a while:
“Man, I’m not good. I always want to be at home. I don’t see my friends anymore, actually, I don’t have friends, I admit. I don’t know, but I think I need help. Maybe I’m the only one, I don’t know.” — Your friend
Well, you’re exactly like that, but it was fine for you, right? Actually, no! You’re like your friend, but you did not realize that yet. You need help too. This is not a good life, you’re living for working, nothing more. This is for sure not a good life.
You ping your teammates on Slack or Skype (yes, unfortunately, your team still uses Skype). After all, they’re working remotely for a while (more than you) and they look good, really. It’s time to admit you’re not an experienced remote worker, and you really need help.
Working remotely is good, it’s really good, but now you want your life back. It’s hard to say but remote workers need to see the street, traffic, get a bus, have lunch in a restaurant or eat a fast food at least once a week. This is really good for you, and trust me, it works.
Go work outside
Maybe you don’t have any friend working remotely like you, but there are a lot of co-working spaces around the world, maybe a coffee shop, a Starbucks (in the city I live we don’t have Starbucks, but some cool co-working spaces). Get some friend (or alone) and go work once or twice a week in another place. Meet people, talk about you, listen to them. There are many people working remotely like you, maybe in a different field, but they exist, and it’s import to listen to bits of advice.
Working remotely does not mean that you have to work all the time, you can get free slots to talk, to meet people, to take a coffee. This is important and this is part of the work, believe me.
I got the freedom working at home and once a week I go to a co-working space. I drink a different coffee there, get some snacks, meet new people, have lunch in a restaurant, eat a different food.
Maybe once a week will not be enough for you, maybe you need to go out two or three times. This will make you feel better and get all the benefits the remote work can do for you. You’re really free to work wherever you want to, but you need to be organized, and make sure your health is good too.
Working at Home
When working at home you can decide to not use a formal dress, but maybe wearing comfortable shoes can make a big difference. Wear yourself like if you were working from another place. This really helps.
Another very good tip is to invest some time and money in your workspace. Get a quite room and make that like a real office, with a good table, a computer, printer and a coffee machine. If possible get a separate restroom for you. This makes you feel that you’re not at home but at the office. The tip here is to make this your place, with things that make you happy, like boards, books or whatever you like. This is your office, not your home. 😎
Check your WhatsApp (or any other personal messenger tool) three times a day, only, before start working, in the middle of the day and at the end of your work time. If you use Slack or Skype to work you must let them opened but have only work-related people in your contacts.
Do not let your mail app opened. You don’t have to reply everyone in real time, it’s an email, not a chat. Check your inbox sometimes during the day, but focus on your work and your productivity. The same for Facebook, Twitter, and related social media, check them once a day. It’s enough, believe me.
This post is based on my personal experience working remotely. I started working remotely in 2016 and since then my life has changed every single day. I’m always changing my workflow to improve productivity.
Remote work is not for everyone, but with just a few changes you can get all the benefits it can give you. There’s no magic formula for that, just organization and patience. I’m sure you’re going to get the life balance you always looked for.
You can think that this post was very abstract, but believe: that happens. This is real life. At least mine. 😃