It’s a wonderful thing to work at a forward thinking company. In the tech world if your company isn’t catching ahold of the latest trends or creating new ones, it probably won’t last long. This doesn’t just pertain to the products and services you sell, but also to the way you build and evolve the inner workings of your business.
I’m fortunate enough to be an Account Manager at Zype, a company that is always innovating both internally and externally. One of the latest trends we’ve adopted is this idea of a distributed workforce. We’re in the process of building out a global company, but instead of opening offices, we allow our distributed employees to work remotely. Currently we have some of the best people located in a variety of different countries including the US, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, Japan, and Brazil.
As someone who has worked remotely in previous jobs, coming into this distributed workforce world wasn’t a complete change of pace. However, that’s not usually the case for most, as working remotely is a fairly new trend.
If you are just starting to dip your toes in the remote world, or considering a remote job here at Zype (we’re hiring!) there’s a few best practices that you should take into account so you can be successful.
One benefit of working remotely is you get to choose the environment you work in. You don’t have to put up with working in a cold office, with bright lights, and loud people. Instead your office is what you make of it, you’re in control. Setting up your workspace is both an exciting and daunting task as it’s key to having self-discipline, staying motivated, and being productive. It’s okay to take your time to get it right.
For me it was important to separate my workspace from my homespace. I made one of the small rooms in my apartment an office, and I usually lock myself in there during work hours. I’ve also used two screens in my previous jobs so I went down to my bodega to get an old screen and a printer. The printer hasn’t been touched but the screen I use everyday.
One of the best parts of setting up my workspace was decorating. For some reason I feel more motivated working in an aesthetically pleasing environment. Everyone is different so it’s important you understand what you need to succeed. If you prefer being around people maybe a home office isn’t right for you, there’s communal work spaces like WeWork all around the world. Whatever you decide, run with it and don’t be afraid to try something new.
A lot of people view working remotely as if it were a fairytale, imagining someone on a different beach each week, with their always fully charged computer, sipping piña coladas, and closing deals left and right. The reality is it’s not as easy as it looks. What you really need is a routine that can help you get things done.
In my case I try to wake up at the same time everyday right before work to drink a big cup of coffee. I then put on something that’s appropriate for “the office”, this helps my brain distinguish from being lazy at home, to being productive at work. I am on my computer the minute work has started. I first take time to say goodmorning to a few of colleagues I work closest with, then get started on my list of to do’s ( Track your activities using Trello). I also make sure my calendar is up to date, if there’s something important I need to get done I often times set due dates so I can remember. All these little things help me stay on pace. Unlike people working at an office I don’t have someone reminding me to get things done, I really have to keep myself motivated and on top of my own tasks. So having day to day activities that you are used to and comfortable with can really make a difference.
I think the most important factor for success while working in a distributed workforce is communication. It’s a completely different world working by yourself as opposed to being surrounded by your colleagues, which means the way you communicate changes too. The good news is you have more control over your time, that being said so do others. So when it comes to getting answers, feedback, or help, you need to really take advantage of your conversational time with your co-workers.
There’s a few ways to go about this. The first is using a face to face conference line. At Zype we use Zoom to communicate and we try to keep our camera turned on. This makes for a more personal conversation. It’s a very effective tool to use during 1on1’s and team meetings. The next tip is to be patient, understand that not all questions need an answer right away, but also prioritizing those that do. Those that may not need an answer right away can be sent through a chat channel like slack. The cool thing about having questions answered in writing is that you can always look back at them. The last thing you need to remember is to take notes on calls, it’s a waste of both your time and your colleagues time if you have to have the same conversation twice.
Having a job that allows you to work remotely is an amazing thing. Not everyone gets this chance and it can really bring about a lot of benefits to your life. This is why you need to treat your time spent working from outside of the office with care and use the benefits you are gaining as a reason to push yourself forward. As Dwayne Johnson once said “ Success isn't always about greatness. It's about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” So use these tips and be consistent. Also don’t be afraid to ask for advice from people you know who are in the same boat, we are all in this together, so let’s do our best to make this work.