Since I started working at my first-ever remote gig here at Crazy Egg, I’ve been posting fun photos on social media of all the spots I’ve been working from.
I wasn’t too surprised when a Twitter friend reached out a few weeks ago and asked me via direct message to give her the inside scoop. She’d been considering the shift from in-house to work-from-wherever, and she wanted to ask me some questions.
My response started out as a few bullet points, and turned into the blog post you see below.
If you’re considering making a similar change to remote work, I hope you find my answers helpful:
Have you moved into a fully remote position, or is it on-site with optional remote work?
Crazy Egg is fully remote! We have no offices; everyone works from home or from a co-working space in their city. We are also global, so the team I lead from Boston is based in Florida, The Philippines, and Sydney.
At first it felt like I was getting away with something to roll out of bed at 8:55, crack open my laptop and start checking emails in my pajamas, but as time went on I got a bit stir crazy working from home. To be honest, it felt like I was taking a sick day, every day. Though there are some advantages to that approach…
For the sake of my sanity I started putting on pants and commuting to a co-working space in Fenway, though I do sometimes detour to other cool spots.
Do you find that you are more or less productive working remotely?
I tested out a couple of the more high-end co-working spaces when I first joined Crazy Egg, and I found they were more like social clubs. All the happy hours and networking sessions were actually super distracting.
I wound up picking one where everyone pretty much keeps to themselves, and I am MUCH more productive.
One thing that surprised me about remote work is the collaboration. We aren’t all in the same room, or state, or even country, so we are forced to be very clear and purposeful in our communications.
For all the drawbacks of not being in the same time zone as my co-workers, I’ve found that I have much more insight into what every other team is working on — which makes my work on the Marketing team much more impactful.
What do you find most helpful in making sure you stay on task while working remotely?
I found I was getting easily distracted by all the channels and tools I needed to monitor to stay in the loop with my far-flung co-workers, so I wound up testing out a new time management strategy and writing about the results.
It’s definitely helped me to add project themes and smaller calendar blocks to my days, but there may be other tactics that work better for you. For example, I have several co-workers who have found success hitting the Snooze setting on Slack or Do Not Disturb on their laptops so they can concentrate for more than a few hours at a time.
Aside from that, make sure you take a couple breaks from tasks to go outside! It’s so easy to lose a whole day of sunlight if you’re by yourself, absorbed in work — but it’s a lot better for your creativity and problem solving skills to give your brain time to digest a problem, or freestyle for a bit.
I’ve been considering looking for a remote gig once my current contract is up, but I’m unsure where to start. Any advice on the process?
- Subscribe to job alerts from remote job boards like flexjobs.com, remote.co, and weworkremotely.com and follow remote job Twitter accounts like @remote_ok and remotelist_io.
- Do a search for remote job Facebook groups and Slack channels, and join them.
- Search for remote job hashtags on Twitter.
- Put it out into the world that you are looking for one (if you’re okay saying so publicly).
- Network on social media with remote workers! A lot of us use hashtags like #remote and #remotework when we post.
- I’d also look at companies who are famous for being all-remote (like Buffer, InVision, MeetEdgar, Zapier, HelpScout, and Basecamp) since I’m sure they’ve perfected the art of new hire on boarding from afar.
Is there any advice or warnings you’d give about remote work to someone considering seeking a working from home job?
- It can be isolating, so make sure you see people after work. Join remote worker social groups. Pop in to #remotechat on Twitter – it happens every Wednesday at 1 PM EST.
- Written text in Slack or emails can be easily misunderstood. When in doubt, getting on the phone with a remote co-worker is better. And video chat is always best!
- It can be very frustrating if you join a company that doesn’t have a clear structure/process for prioritization, and who’s responsible for what. Things that might be small blockers in an office can delay a project weeks if you don’t pay close attention to deadlines or have someone dedicated to moving things forward.
- Breaking down obstacles and celebrating wins are both extremely important qualities to look for in a remote company.
- Make sure you ask a lot questions about project management, hierarchy, documentation, how company goals are communicated and evaluated, etc!
Lastly: Most remote companies are startups, and those can be aggressive about long hours even when you work in an office.
Remote work tends to bleed into your real life because it’s 100% digital, and we all live with our phones in our pockets. So, make sure to gain clarity on availability:
- What are your official work hours?
- Are you expected to be “on demand” outside of them?
Here’s a list of other great questions to ask if your remote job is with a startup.
While I had an admittedly rocky adjustment period to remote life, I’ve found that the pros vastly outweigh the cons. First of all, I can work from a brewery:
But most importantly, I have the flexibility to adapt to major life changes. When my husband got a post-doc job offer in Canada, I was able to say yes to the move without any hesitation — and that is priceless.