This post was spawned from a question at a recent job interview and a talk given by my friend Jordan at Bar Camp Nashville.
I’ve been working remotely for a few years. Sometimes as my full-time gig, sometimes as my side-hustle. For me it’s easy. I am OCD, introverted, and a pro at multi-tasking. Working remotely and communicating via email is the best thing EVER.
As of May 2013, I have no additional office space. I work from home, I meet clients at coffee shops or in their spaces, and I teleconference with people in other cities. I have a “schedule”, but it’s not 8-5. I book clients about a week in advance so I can plan accordingly. As a general rule, Monday-Friday I am out of bed and behind my computer by 10:30. If I have appointments, I don’t start work until 10am. Why? I learned long ago that I don’t like mornings. My best work actually happens after 7pm. Saturday and Sunday are work optional days. Sometimes, I would rather work on the weekend if it means that I get to take a day off mid-week to take care of personal things.
So, if I don’t do mornings, how do I get things done with people in the “normal” work world? I work on an off-set schedule. I frequently send out emails with questions for clients or some sort of progress report at night or at the end of my work day. If all goes well, those emails are being answered first thing in the morning by clients and co-workers and waiting in my inbox by 10:30. I plow through my list of chores and get something back to them around the time that they would be wrapping up their lunches and heading back to work.
In addition to these perks, I can set my own pace for jobs. I work binge. If I have a project that requires a few hours of my time, I would rather do it all in one sitting and put it to bed. When I worked in an office with set hours, I hated having to clock out because it was “quitting” time and have to wait until morning to complete something. That said, I also get to take days off in the middle of the week because I took a two day job and crammed it into one day.
Some people ask if my work day has an actual end? The answer is sometimes. Around 6:30 I will probably avoid answering my phone or responding to new business emails. If I happen to be working after “normal” hours, I may continue responding to “old business” via email.
Working from home DOES NOT work for everyone. If you have a problem budgeting your time, you should probably avoid this type of work, or you should split your time working in an office vs working remotely. If you have a hard time working for long hours without supervision, working from home is not for you. You should also avoid working in coffee shops and co-working spaces, they are full of distraction.
Confessions, I don’t usually get dressed for work in the traditional sense. Often I am in my pjs or a t-shirt and shorts. If it’s a video conference day, I would make sure to be dressed appropriately, but those don’t happen often. Sometimes when I get stuck on a client problem, I clock out and do some stuff around the house. I cook, I clean, I might do some laundry. Since I am not on a work restricted network, sometimes I take a break and chat with a friend on instant messenger.
More confessions… I used to work from home with a kid. I was a nanny at the time. I just scheduled anything phone or video related during nap time or on the days that I didn’t have the kid.