It’s 6:00 am. I crawl groggily out of bed, take care of the dog, and prepare the Keurig for my morning cup of coffee. I get ready for the day and head down to my home office to power up my computer. It sits in the entryway of our home, flooded with warm morning light. Coffee in hand, it’s now 6:45 am and I’m awake and ready to dive in.
How I Became a Remote Employee
I wasn’t always a remote employee. I had been working in an office environment for nearly 10 years before I held my first remote job. I remember always being tired. No matter how much sleep I got the night before, I was always run down. Maybe it was the combination of sitting in early morning traffic (and rush-hour traffic again at dusk), the constant interruptions or distractions from co-workers, or just feeling like my time was only ever spent in an office environment - away from my family and friends. Whatever the reason, the stress of the office was weighing on me.
Aside from the exhaustion, my priorities also started to change over time. I became less interested in developing friendships with co-workers, joining in on weekly happy hours and playing games during lunch breaks, and I became much more focused on my work. How could I improve this or that? What could I do better to grow in my career? Where did I see myself in another 5 years?
While building healthy relationships with coworkers was still important for cultural fit and successful team building for me, I did not feel the same way I had early on in my career. I now had a clear vision for my career path and it didn’t necessarily include happy hours and water cooler conversation.
When I envisioned my future career, I wanted to lead. I wanted to work with a collaborative team. I wanted to play an integral role in the success of my company. I wanted to grow.
Outside of my career, I wanted to travel, to see the world, to live in new places, to visit family. I needed to choose a path that would allow me to work and play - no matter my location.
So that’s exactly what I did.
Transitioning to a Remote Work Life
I won’t lie. It’s been hard work. But anything worth doing probably isn’t going to be easy. And I enjoy working. I have always been a hard worker, juggling multiple jobs since I was 14. But I never wanted to spend my life in the office, neglecting my family or friends to meet that deadline - even though I still always find myself doing whatever it takes to meet that deadline.
The biggest challenge for me has actually been making sure I know when to stop working. It can be very easy to lose track of time while working in the comfort of your own home, only realizing how late it is when your dog is staring at you, confused why you haven’t given him his dinner yet.
Some remote employees feel the loss of human interaction. Luckily, I am not one of them. I can easily work 40-50 hours a week without ever seeing another human being. I am more efficient this way. But that doesn’t mean I don’t need the social interaction of brainstorming ideas with my team or asking my colleagues how their weekend was through Slack. I get my human interaction after hours. An early morning workout at my local gym. Dinner with my family every night. Hiking trips with my friends on the weekends.
All of this said, here are 3 ways I’ve found to succeed in a remote role.
It’s All About Balance
With any job, local or remote, a work-life balance is probably the one thing I would say is the most important to me. I truly believe that my best working self is a direct result of my personal quality of life. There are some days where I put in 10 hours, and others where I put in 7. If my family is visiting and wants to spend time with me, then I will make time for them. If my fiancé wants to take a trip somewhere, then I will happily join him. On the opposite side of that, if my boss needs something done quickly, I will do what I can to make it happen.
Even though you have the flexibility to work from home, it doesn’t mean you should abuse it, but it also doesn’t mean you should be working all the time. You must create a healthy balance for yourself or you will burn out - just as you would spending long nights at the office.
However you choose to balance your time, just be sure to consider your personal quality of life, the result of your work, and the effect that your personal life and work ethic may have on your colleagues.
Become Obsessively Organized
I have always been a planner. A very detail-oriented person, I love using lists. Task lists are something I use both professionally and personally. Even on my days off from Primitive Social, I am planning. On Sunday evenings, I look at my calendar for the week to mentally prepare for what’s to come and try to figure out when I can squeeze a workout in each day or what day I might be able to join my fiancé for lunch.
Organization is key. Working remotely, you no longer have a teammate sitting next to you to remind you of the meeting you both have in 10 minutes. Working for a small company, you’re probably going to wear multiple hats. It will become incredibly important to keep your tasks and responsibilities organized to be successful in a remote role.
Your Communication Skills Have to Be Stellar
Now that you’re no longer sitting directly next to your coworkers, you have to be an amazing communicator. Working remotely doesn’t mean you get to hide behind your computer - although some days we all know we want to. In some ways, you have to be even more available than you were in the office. There is no such thing as over-communicating with your team. If you are going to be offline for any reason, make sure they know that - same as you would in the office with a wave to let them know you’re leaving. As long as you are within the working office hours, keep your team informed of your comings and goings.
The truth is, working remotely isn’t for everyone. You have to be diligent, focused, and driven. If you are a person that gets easily distracted, or if you crave constant human interaction, then it may not be for you. But if you pride yourself on your work ethic no matter your location, a remote job may be the perfect fit for you.
Primitive Social embraces the remote work life. Being one of the first remote employees two years ago, I am now one of 16 - and we are still growing! Interested in working at Primitive Social?
Heather joined Primitive Social in December 2016 as Inbound Marketing Manager, bringing with her over 10 years of experience. Heather holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Media Arts and a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Marketing. Heather resides in Colorado and uses her spare time to hike with her dog, spend time with family, or travel to new places.