Working on Dispersed Teams – Part 4 of 7

Going Remote? Tips from the Remotees

Thinking about becoming a remote employee? It’s not just a professional change, it’s a lifestyle change; that isn’t right for everyone. Here are some tips from Red Hat remotees on how to know if a permanent work-from-home arrangement is right for you and then how to succeed if it is.

Ask around

Put aside any assumptions you have and find out what remote life is really like. Have a candid talk with a remotee about why they are a good match for remote work. Do you share these desires and attributes? Talk to a remotee “whose productivity is at the level you want to be,” says remote manager Paul Frields. “Talk to them about their strategy, their tools, and how they set up their remote office.”

Self-Manage

If working from home is a no brainer, set yourself up for success in every way possible. Consider how the environment might help or hinder your role in the organization. You’ll have to be able to self-manage your work.

Consider setting some personal rules to hold yourself accountable. Remote engineer Adela Arreola recommends setting a schedule that maximizes your peak focus hours, “You find your own rhythm. You know the time of day that you are most productive.” You have the freedom to run out for an appointment or rest when ill in a way that is different from working in an office. Personal accountability is key to keeping your work/life balance in check.

Set work/life boundaries

The line between office and home life is seriously blurred when they are one in the same. Setting some clear boundaries, though, will protect both you personally and professionally. One interviewee noted that many remotees are so afraid that they’re laid back as remotees that they actually overcompensate. It’s an easy pitfall because their office is only a few feet away. They can jump online at any time, but that’s not a healthy lifestyle. Careful communication and self-management ensure that your boss and team know how valuable you are.

Establishing physical and functional boundaries will help you mentally shift between work and home life. “Have a separate workspace from your living space so you can pretend it’s a cubicle in an office. You get the feel that you’re at work when you sit down.” says remote developer Jacob Hamann. This will serve the dual purpose of making your workspace feel more like the office and keep the office out of your home space. Use the clock to stay engaged. Then hold yourself to those work hours. Ben Miller recently moved from corporate headquarters to his dream location of the Rocky Mountains. He shares, “I have to wake up and pretend I’m going to the office. I have to do my morning routine. If I don’t, I will be in bed at 6:59 for my 7am scrum meeting.”

It’s the small things

Some details will go a long way to making you comfortable and successful as a remote worker. Of course, caffeine is a priority. “Make 6 cups of coffee,” says Jake Hammond. Okay, if you’re a caffeine purist, have a case of La Croix or your drink of choice handy. Position yourself to mentally get in the zone and stay there during the workday.

Take advantage of any home office offerings provided by your company, including a good headset. It’s crucial to your comfort and new communications lifestyle.

However comfortable your new workspace is, a 10-minute break each hour makes a big difference. Think about it. You used to walk to meeting rooms and catch up with people at the water cooler. Now, there’s little need to move. Periodic circulation is important for cardiovascular health and good for the metabolism. Stepping away from the screen is also good for eye health and can keep you from burning out too quickly. This doesn’t contradict the earlier point to hold yourself accountable to working hours; it supports the ability to take care of yourself and stay engaged during those hours.

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