Thinking of working remotely!

22 October 2019 by Sean Hamawi

That’s a loaded question, but in my experience success in working remotely depends on the individual’s personal goals and your willingness to adjust your work mindset.  We all wish for early retirement and while not all achieve this goal as early as we’d like, working remotely for me has been the next best thing to balance life. I classify myself as an early adopter, having been regularly working remotely for over 15 year where I’ve found the benefits to be life-changing although not without its challenges.

The reasons for working remotely vary from one person to the next. For me working remotely has provided the work life balance I craved. Life goes by so fast and we can miss out on the important things until it’s too late. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the little things like take the kids to school or pick-up, see the family grow, be there if someone’s sick where otherwise I would have missed out.

When I’ve needed a change in scenery, to recharge my batteries or it might be during school holidays working remotely has provided the flexibility to re-locate my home office to any other location. To get away for a few days or it might be to work out of the local café. 

Freeing up my time has been another major benefit. A normal work day travelling into the office would have included an extremely long commute not to mention the enjoyable crush of a packed train or peak hour foot traffic grind. Working remotely has given me back that commute time to be more constructive with my life. What would you do with an extra 2.5 hours of your time a day?

My experience working remotely and is it all it’s cracked up to be”.

‍The health benefits cannot be underestimated. I’ve always been a fit person but fitness of your mind is also important.  Working remotely has provided flexible working hours, I’m able to plan out my day based on my personal and work commitments to ensure I achieve both. I’m able to start earlier or finish later depending on the need and structure my fitness regimen into my weekly work activities instead of cramming it into the weekend. I’ve found even a simple walk with the dog during the day, ability to personalise your own workspace or being around family and friends ensures a fit mind.

While there are many more benefits it’s important to remember there are downsides you face and to overcome. 

Working remotely at times has been distracting. Your home is a living breathing entity having many distractions from kids, deliveries, noise and your partner forgetting you're actually home working. All can impact your concentration, work output and meeting success. I’ve found you need:
- To be self-disciplined, structured and able to multi-task which if you don’t have these skills initially you can learn like me. 
- To have a dedicated workspace you can shut yourself away in and having that conversation with the family to set rules is also important.
- Give it time for the people around you to also adjust to the new arrangements.

Being left out of the work loop and perceptions are some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced. If I’m not at work I must be slacking off or I’m being forgotten and overlooked for promotions.

Management can form the opinion your not serious in your career, co-workers can bypass your input or disregard your abilities simply because you’re not in the office. I’ve had to work hard to overcome these issues which has taken time. You need to keep your working relationships positive and active, exceed task obligations, make yourself invaluable and be proactive in getting involved. 

Technology can also be a key factor limiting your success. Questions to ask yourself are:
- Do I have a reliable and suitable internet service to handle work requirements
- Do I have access to all required work applications and IT platforms to perform my function
- Do I have a reliable mobile or dedicated landline or reliable PC
- Do I have access to suitable software to enable you to run or participate in work meetings both via voice and/or video capability to stay connected?

Working remotely is not for everyone as you need to be disciplined, thankfully this is now becoming a more mainstream business practice. Remember with some pre-planning and a realisation remote working is a journey of self-discover and change maybe you too should give it a go.

Sean Hamawi
Work From Home Evangelist at EmuCast.