The way that we work continues to change year on year, and we’re only getting more flexible in our approach. With this, comes the rise in remote working. Gone are the days of employers begrudgingly accepting requests to work from home for whatever reason. Workforces around the world are demanding flexibility, and they’re finally getting it.
With support from revolutionary new technology, the Internet of Things and 5G on the horizon… the possibilities of what can be achieved in and out of the workplace seem to be growing by the day. Within Magenta, we even have two remote-workers, Louise Boulden and Jessica Lowe. Very much part of the team, but working remotely, we thought it would be interesting to hear their thoughts on the topic first hand…
Two years ago, I made the leap from full-time office worker, to thae world of remote working. As mum to a young son, it’s made the difference between being forced to go part-time and being able to progress in my career (and be home in time for tea). While I certainly work longer hours now than I did in the office, the flexibility remote working affords me is fantastic.
Here are some top tips from a relative newcomer to remote working….
Change up location
Working in any office environment can feel stagnant, however, as most of us remote workers also fly solo, it’s important to mix up where you work from and try and get in some people interaction while you’re at it. Whilst the hustle and bustle of city coffee shops isn’t for me (I’m one of the weird ones who requires silence to write), my local university library has become my sanctuary. Quiet enough (obviously it’s a library!) to write in peace, there’s enough going on the break out spaces and coffee shop to get that all-needed human to human time.
So many of the blogs and articles on remote working advocate how much more exercise you’ll be doing with all your commute-free time. Well, as a mum on the school run and back to my desk, it hasn’t worked out that way. Best piece of advice I can give is just keep moving – even a 10 minute brisk walk on your ‘lunch break’ will do you the world of good. I for one cannot wait for the summer when my modest garden affords me a bit of vitamin d while I work.
Keep your IT in shape
Fast and up-to-date IT equipment is the norm at the office, but as a remote worker, believe you me, if you don’t keep up with software updates, latest technology and nagging your broadband provider on slow days, it can slow you to a stop. A basic tip, but one that can make the difference between a productive day and one you have to write-off.
On that note, here are some of the top platforms/apps I use to keep remote life in check….
- Staying organised. It’s got to be Basecamp. This project management software is fantastic and is my mini universe! I typically use this to track client assignments, however there are many features to explore.
- Let’s talk. As a remote worker, much of my contact with the team and clients is powered through the internet. Whilst I absolutely use the likes of Skype and FaceTime for personal connections, I typically use GoToMeeting for professional meets. Call quality is pretty good, and hasn’t let me down yet, unlike the wonders of Skype. Screen sharing is also a doddle.
- Fancy a chat? A client has recently introduced me to the world of Slack for quick chats / questions and I’m quite impressed with it. Don’t have a subscription of my own but find it far more organised and intuitive than other platforms. I also dabble with Skype chat.
- Collaboration. I find myself using my Google Drive more and more these days. Gone are the archaic days of Track Changes and multiple document versions. Collaborating using Google Docs makes life so much easier.
Remote working has allowed me to create a far better work/life balance, as well as realising my dream of living in the countryside. I am productive early in the morning, so I tend to get up at six, work for an hour and then do half an hours yoga. I get my six year old son up for school at 7.30 and spend the next hour making him breakfast and having a chat – I really value this time. It’s never a rush and I am completely focused on him, not trying to get myself ready for work.
I’m very lucky in that my partner is mainly at home. By moving to rural Herefordshire our cost of living is far lower, so he doesn’t ‘have’ to work – it has also allowed me to work more. He does take short term jobs and has built me a beautiful office in the garden – another major perk. He usually deals with the school run. I try to finish around 4pm, when my son gets back from school, and then I might do another hour once he’s gone to bed – just in front of the telly, so it doesn’t really feel like working.
The downside is that when I do need to meet with my clients its usually a long way away. I put a lot of miles on the car and go to London every other week or so, which means a 5am start and a three hour train journey. I can feel isolated too. Although, in the last year or so I’ve had freelancers coming here a couple of days a week so I’m less lonely! It’s worth it though; small prices to pay for freedom and flexibility.