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Working remotely has become a mainstream trend in the world of startups and corporate culture, but it doesn’t come without its difficulties. Leaving the stability and routine of commuting to the office can sound exciting at first, but it takes a certain person to remain productive without the normal structure.
As a remote company at Rype, we’re constantly pushing the envelope on how we can be the most effective as a team while maintaining the culture we have. We’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot of lessons from our experience, and I thought we would share it to help you on your own journey towards working remotely.
1. Keep a routine.
The first thing that goes out the door when you start working remotely is a regular routine. Forget to dress up for work, catching the subway at 8 AM every morning, and leaving the office at 5.
If you’re not careful, this lack of routine can lead to inefficiency and a lack of productivity. We advise putting together a regular routine that can help you maintain your workflow. It could mean waking up at the same time every morning and going for a workout in the evening after work.
It may sound ironic, but having a stable routine in place sets you free.
2. Focus on your energy, not time.
When you’re working remotely, it’s hard to know how much time you’re spending on work. There’s no one besides you that’s taking a lunch break or leaving the office early to trigger your brain to wind down.
I’ve certainly had this issue many times over, where it’s hard to unplug from work when you’ve got a lot on your plate. Research has shown that productivity tends to drop after a certain number of working hours (this varies from person to person), creating a diminishing effect.
To increase our productivity, we must focus our energy, not our time. The easiest way to do this is to figure out when you’re the most productive or have the most energy and do your most important work during those time slots.
For me, I do all of my writing in the morning, as that’s when I feel the most creative.
3. Find your community.
Working remotely doesn’t mean you have to be stuck alone in your room. In fact, we encourage you to get out.
There’s a rapidly growing community of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and other remote workers that are gathering all around the world. You can check out communities like Digital Nomad Community or CoWoLi (CoWorking Meets Coliving), which helps connect digital nomads and virtual workers in-person.
You can also check out local co-working spaces in your city in order to connect with other virtual workers or entrepreneurs.
4. Have regular feedback.
Since there’s no opportunity to run into a co-worker in the “break” room, it’s harder to strike up a casual conversation or feedback session. But without feedback, there’s no communication. And without communication, there’s no progress.
Push yourself to schedule frequent feedback sessions with your team individually. If you’re used to monthly feedback sessions, try doing it bi-weekly to see if that improves communication and flow within the team. Every team culture is different, so I can’t tell you what level of frequency will work for you, but most of the questions can be answered by simply experimenting for yourself.
5. Get face-to-face.
This one is a must. No matter how efficient or interactive your video chat sessions are, it can never beat meeting face-to-face.
Companies like Buffer, where 100% of their employees are working remotely, have a bi-annual company retreat in order to keep everyone aligned and to further develop their culture. It’s hard to transfer personality traits and humor over the web, so getting a flavor of things in-person can help bring everyone together.
This could be for a few days for a conference or a vacation spot that gets voted by the entire company. Just remember, the purpose and location are less important than the act of meeting face-to-face.