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Always invisible in office!

My experiences working with a remote team in a consulting startup. For now, I have tried to present an objective outline by sticking to the details and mentioning facts I think I will reserve my opinions and suggestions until I feel I have more experience with this.

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Months back, I got an e-mail from Bhavin(my current boss!), who wanted to catch-up to discuss website design for his start-up. When the discussion was about to end, he asked, ‘Why don’t you join MavenHive full-time?’ But, as I wanted to shift to my hometown, I refused. He said, ‘Why not? You can always work from wherever you want to!’ And today, it’s been 5 months since I’ve been working remotely.

We all know, working from home is not easy, its very hard to focus on work when you’re at home. Another challenge is you might feel that you’re out of the loop. And its also very important to stay in sync with co-workers.

So, was it the right decision?

Yes. So far it has been a really smooth experience. As I decide my own hours, I can spend time at the beaches, gardens, lakes, malls and also meet friends(who work as freelancers) for tea or lunch in the middle of the day. All that being said…sometimes it is a little claustrophobic being in my house all the time with no one to talk to.

The biggest benefit of working from home or remotely is flexible working hours(we don’t even have that in office, I swear!). There is no time limitation. You can spend time with family members anytime you want to.

Another important pro would be that you can stay away from hectic travelling and unavoidable traffic during commute, and so, there is reduced stress and sickness. Hence, very less energy and fuel consumption ;)

But what about productivity, dude?

I’ve heard from many that they can’t focus while they’re working from their home or remotely. But, I have my own set of rules which works for me and helps me to focus and stay productive. I always try to

  • …have a dedicated work-space setup.
  • …keep project management tools (Pivotal Tracker, JIRA, Mingle, Trello, etc) updated.
  • …attend regular office and project related stand-ups.
  • …keep to-do lists updated with different kinds of activities.
  • …arrange video calls over audio calls.
  • …work during regular office hours.
  • …take lunch breaks on time.
  • …skip work from home and work from somewhere else(may be nearest coffee-shop etc).
  • …follow, create and maintain schedules.
  • …keep some time reserved for learning during week-ends or even week-days.

Do you recommend any apps/tools?

I’ve found the following to be extremely helpful while working remotely:

  1. Slack - I love slack because it supports all the platforms. And it’s beautiful. We use this at our office as well.
  2. Hangout - I mostly do hangouts for talking to colleagues.
  3. Trello - This helps me to track what I’m upto!
  4. Noizio - Feel that you’re sitting somewhere else!
  5. Timezone - Track time in other cities easily!
  6. Work from - This helps nomadic professionals, freelancers, web developers and remote workers discover reliable places to get work done outside of the home or office.
  7. Copass - A globally recognized coworking community membership.
  8. Coffee and Power - Helps you to find best coffee shops for working with Wi-Fi.
  9. Remote standup - I don’t personally use this but I’ve heard good reviews about this tool.
  10. GitHub - How can we miss the most important tool, my favourite, GitHub. A powerful collaboration tool.
  11. Remotive - I get the best tips on remote work and productivity here.

At the end, I’d say, with the proper structuring and preparation, working remotely can be a great experience. Give yourself the tools you need, from proper home workspace setup to scheduling, and you may end up being more productive than you’ve ever been.

If you work remotely, share what works for you… and what not! I’d love to know!