Telecommuting, working from home, working remotely: they all essentially mean the same thing (working somewhere other than in an office). And this form of work is growing. To us, working from home every now and again should not be anything extraordinary these days. Which is why we are focussing more on those working from a different country for a longer period of time. A while ago we told you about our Co-Founder Rolf and his remote work. He is not the only one in our community to select this way of working: In spring Matt Hinkley used the Impact Hub Bern as workspace, while still working for his US company “back home”. What brought him to the distant Bern? Love of course…
Right now he is travelling the world on his bike, so he emailed us his thoughts on working remote (and we spiced up the article with some of his great pictures):
“What worked well with remote working, was having a great footer at the end of emails that detailed your operating conditions: Time, contacts, team members, sharing folders online, etc. Also, having clarity about who was doing what and to specify follow up steps when things were achieved by team members.”
Different time zones can be a difficulty – or a successfactor
“Remote working in different time zones means a part of the team can work on a project while the other sleeps. We were extremely productive by doing this. However, the remote person’s role becomes more labour-intensive and less involved in the project management or creative aspects. I was the person getting things done, while the team members on-site steered the project in a certain direction. That’s what I found a little annoying about remote work: Decisions will be made then and there without your approval, and you will be asked to simply carry out tasks.”
You & your team – not always easy to play
“I would recommend remote work to people that are satisfied with playing a role as executor rather than driver or manager. Managing a team that is working together is so difficult remotely.
Self-discipline is crucial to ensuring your work does not start at lunchtime and finish in the early hours of the morning, maintaining structure to your flexible working hours.
Expect that some people in the team will envy your position of remote working and want to see what work you are doing, to check if you are really contributing. Ensure you have a detailed log of work you complete, and work you have in coming weeks. Don’t accept too much work because you feel you owe it to the rest of the team for being away.”
Enthusiasm and a good support network are key
“You must be invested in your project. Enthusiasm will fade in a week if you are not excited for the the work to be done. If only the remote aspect of this work is engaging, then you are destined to struggle and will probably fail at being effective.”
Next, is quite a big point I will make: It can be very lonely. Without a support network of some sort, the pressure, boredom or simple loneliness of solo work can have a heavy mental toll. Make sure you are a well grounded person with some connection to a support network.”
Don’t forget to enjoy it!
“Lastly, enjoy the remote location you are in. If there is too much work and you do not manage your time well enough to experience where your remote work can take you, then stay home. Remind yourself of the great places you are in, pause work, get out and see it now, not later. This attitude will keep you stimulated and refreshed.”