Drew BarontiniProduct Director at Differential

Working Remote

Published

February 20, 2020

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2 min.

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This is everything I've learned about working full-time remote (and at home) the past several years.

Have a dedicated workspace

If you work at home, this means having a real office. This doesn't mean your bedroom, the living room, or any other space within the house whose sole purpose is NOT for quiet, focused work.

This is important for a lot of reasons.

You need to be able to turn work on and off. Having a dedicated space means you can "go to work for the day," even without leaving the house and driving to the office. You're not just going to open your laptop wherever you may be in the house. You have a space to separate yourself, to truly and deeply focus on work. And when the day is over, you leave your dedicated space and you're done with work.

When you work, work hard. When you’re done, be done. Cal Newport

You need to be able to focus. You need a place where you can block out all distractions. I have two kids, one being a 16-month-old boy who likes to be a boy, banging, climbing, and, ocassionally regularly, yelling. And he should be able to do that without impeding my focus. Now this is possible, in part, due to the noise-cancellation on the AirPods Pro πŸ™(bless you), but also because I have a dedicated, closed-off space.

You need to present yourself properly. When I was building my office, my goal was to have a visually pleasing backdrop for my video calls. I spend a lot of time on video calls. And a lot of those calls are with clients. So my space needs to be professional and appealing, unlike the disheveled, ill-lit backdrops I've occupied in the past.

You need fast and reliable internet. Hopefully your geographic location provides this affordance because it's a must. Video calls eat up a lot of bandwidth, so having fast and reliable internet is crucial. It's worth the extra money squeezing out every drop of speed you can.

You need to be comfortable in your space. Set up your workspace with comfort in mind. For me, that's with a nice chair, standing desk, and ergonomic keyboard/mouse. I am comfortable and productive when I'm working. It's my space, and that's important.

If any of these constraints are impeded, look for a co-working space in your hometown. There are a vast array of sites to help you find them, so this is always another option to explore.

Establish a routine

Establishing a clear routine and schedule gives me full control over my time. This is vital to successfully working at home because it's easy to fall victim to the whims of "things happening in the house".

This one comes naturally to me. I crave routines, habits, and schedules. So if you find it more difficult to do this, I recommend working on Time Blocking to more effectively plan your time.

Go outside

It's rare that I get in the car and drive somewhere during the work week. And since I'm spending all my time in the house, it's important to get outside.

I'm fortunate to live in a community with an abundance of parks, walking paths, and open areas. I walk my step-daughter (with my son in tow on his wagon) to school every morning. And my 16-month-old is obsessed with being outside, so that helps, too.

Make sure you're getting fresh air, even if that means taking a break during the day to walk outside. There are massive benefits beyond avoiding isolation, such as improved problem-solving. Don't avoid it!

Talk to other humans

My wife stays at home with my son, so I get most of my social interaction with them. I also connect regularly with my team members at Differential through meetings and pairing sessions.

Find the right balance of social interaction to keep you happy and healthy.

I'll never go back to working in an office that isn't my own. Me, nearly every day

I have never been happier and more productive. This is how I want to work.