Remote Developer

Things I’ve learned being a remote developer

Up until 2012 I had never had a “job” which was not a remote position. Job being defined as a position as a consultant, working for a startup, being a traditional employee etc.

In 2012, I took a position in a payments company that was full time in an office.

Taking that position in an industry that I knew very little about at the time was a big step for me. It also meant, I had to adjust to working at an office and all the formalities that come with that.

I’ll tell you quite an embarrassing story, although it eventually became somewhat of a running joke which made me feel better. Back in 2012, on my first official day as an office worker, I didn’t know that offices had dress codes.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. I pitched up on my first day of work wearing shorts and a shirt which was against the “rules”. Luckily the company I worked for was very nice about things like that. But still, I was rather flustered.

In any case, it’s now been 2 weeks since I’ve returned to a remote working position and I feel so much happier than when I was working the office job.

I now believe, more than ever, that remote working is that way of the future, especially for digital workers. I’m not going to go in to the whys, they’ve been covered by countless articles and books.

What I would like to go through though is some of my initial tips for making remote work a pleasant experience and something that works for you.

Remote developer tip 1: Plan your day before it begins

This is something that I never used to do at my office job. I didn’t feel it was ever needed. The day kind of just flowed. Working remotely however, is a completely different experience.

If you don’t plan your day properly and write down what you want to accomplish, then there are hundreds of things that have the potential to get in the way of your priorities.

I simply use TextEdit and each morning write down my ToDo for the day. I also keep a backlog of items I want to get done in the future. It’s that simple!

Remote developer tip 2: Utilise the communication tools available to you

It’s easy, especially as someone new to a company and someone who tends to be a little introverted, to not get involved in discussions. For me, this is even more the case when chatting digitally because I tend to put too much thought in to what I am going to say.

For example, I think to myself “What will they all think about what I am about to say” and then just say nothing.

Don’t do that. I kicked that habit very quickly. It’s vital that you get involved and connect with others in the company. Use whatever the company provides i.e. Slack, Skype, HipChat etc.

Don’t be shy, in my experience people tend to be very friendly towards the new guy/girl.

Remember, if you shy away from this kind of communication, it’s going to be a very lonely space for you as a remote worker.

Remote developer tip 3: Take breaks

In an office environment, it’s easy to take a quick coffee break or snack break. When I worked in an office, I would often socialise with colleagues on the office balcony and just get my mind refreshed.

Obviously, when working remotely, it’s easier to get caught up in the work and work for a couple hours without a break. This is one I’m working on myself. I don’t want to work longer than 1 hour without taking a break. I’m currently working up to 2.5 hours without a break. Need to get that down.

Remote developer tip 4: Appreciate the freedom and time saving

Tomorrow morning, your neighbours, friends, family will be waking up at 5:30am so that they can skip the traffic on the way to work. You? You’ll either still be getting well earned rest, or taking advantage of the 30 minute time saving by maybe working on a personal project.

There hasn’t been a day gone by yet that I haven’t been thankful of the fact that I don’t have to sit in traffic tomorrow morning. For me, this has been the biggest blessing of remote work!

Remote developer tip 5: Get out there

If you’re feeling a little holed in or lonely, go and work from a coffee shop. Enjoy the vibe and good food.

I’ve done this a couple times already and being in that environment gives me good energy.

I’ve also really enjoyed having my family join me for lunch at these coffee shops where I’ve been working. It’s gives us extra time in the day to bond which we never had before.

And that’s it for now. It’s been a good learning experience getting back in to it and there is still a lot I need to learn going forward, but I’m seriously loving it and hopefully looking forward to working like this for the rest of my life.

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4 thoughts on “Things I’ve learned being a remote developer”

  1. dann says:

    I’ve been remoting for almost 5 years, as first its great but its not all its cracked up to be. The feeling of isolation can set in after 6 months and it can affect ones communications abilities. I have to make an effort to go out after work or I feel as if I’ll go insane. I had to get a cat so I could get someone to talk too.

    1. Yeah, it’s not for everyone.

      None of my team live alone so I don’t think any of us have experienced complete isolation in that sense.

      From a day to day work comms perspective, we have regular Skype calls and we’re constantly chatting on Hangouts which seems to work for us.

      Then from my side, personally, I’m on social media all day and I’m a member of multiple Slack groups constantly chatting into the wee hours of the morning so mentally I’m quite engaged.

      I leave the house about once or twice a week.

      1. Matt says:

        Agree with pretty much everything Nathan said.

        I make sure that I get out whenever I can. If you’re lucky enough your company will fly you out on site as well to meet up with the team.

        It’s important that you get face to face time with other human beings.

  2. Remote FTW!

    We used to be office based but switched to remote some time back, I wrote a post about it too. https://nathanjeffery.co/2014/12/06/remote-work/

    It’s so much more efficient.

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