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Remote Work: Pros, Challenges, and How to Get Started in your Business

Remote work and flexible hours are among the most requested "perks" when applying for a job these days. But is it only a perk? In fact, many companies, large and small, are beginning to embrace this new work culture with great success. Some companies have even gone all the way to becoming entirely remote.

Team members are living all across the globe. Some may live close to the beach in Bali, Indonesia, while others live in the middle of a huge city like New York; then there are some just living at home- where they've always been. With a remote-life, everything is arranged online. Team members only meet in-person a few times a year for parties, events, and in general gatherings.

This work culture may seem frivolous and unproductive if you're used to a typical office setting with regular working hours from 9 to 5. In this post, we will go through some of the steps to take before deciding to transition into partly or entirely remote work. We explore some of the pros and cons, or challenges of working remotely, from both a business and personal team standpoint. Hopefully, it will help you evaluate if it's something for you, and some steps to ultimately getting started.

Pros

  • Covering a wide range of timezones
  • Savings from overhead costs
  • Creativity boost from meeting new people and ever-changing surroundings
  • Developing a global network 
  • Expand various skills across different fields
  • Choosing an environment that fits your personal lifestyle

Cons / Challenges

  • Keeping focus and maintaining high productivity
  • Avoiding a spiral of distraction
  • Communication, fellowship, and team spirit can lack without the supporting practices in place

Inspiration

Fully remote companies: GitLab, Buffer, Zapier, Todoist, Automattic, InVision, Tortuga Backpacks, etc.

Get started with this list of good practices

1. Create your personal productivity space

Even if you don't choose to go to a co-working space, it's still super important to create a dedicated working space. Whether it's in your home, a set of cafés in your local area, or a spot outside, if you live a warm location, make it your place. The importance here is that you make sure to keep it separate from your so-called life outside of work- the always sought after work/life balance. This will set your brain up for getting stuff done rather than browsing the web in your bed for hours on end.

2. Build up a realistic, lasting routine

Initially creating a productive routine, lends to maintaining good lasting habits. When do you go to bed? What do you do in the hours leading to sleep? When do you get up in the morning? What's your first activity? Do you jump out of bed, take a run, shower and eat a healthy and nourishing breakfast? Yeah, I agree that sounds like the perfect morning we all strive for- but at the minimum, set up a realistic morning routine that you enjoy. Your morning truly defines the rest of your day. When do you leave for work? And, where do you go? Do you go to your desk across the room, another room, a coworking space, a specific spot by the beach, or whatever you have around your location? When do you leave the office?

3. Incorporate breaks

Breaks are paramount to avoiding burnout. When you're working remotely, you're often the only immediate person taking care of yourself. Meaning that you have to consider this point very seriously. At home, you might have people around you, colleagues, friends, or family to distract you every once in a while. When you're mostly alone, you don't. In other words, you need to "distract" yourself. Take a break away from the screen. Take a walk, find a local park to explore, or even move to another place! 

A good tip is to use your geographical location as "chapters" in your day. For instance, a certain café might be your first stop in the morning. You grab a coffee, maybe some bread, and you get cracking on your first tasks, checking your inbox, reply to messages, and structure your to-do's for the day. This could also be a great opportunity for internal meetings through video conferencing. 

Next stop might be a coworking space, your desk at home, or your productive spot outside. Here you get cracking on the real stuff. Maybe you stay here for 3-4 hours, take a longer break and move to your final spot of your working day. A spot to slow down a bit before you leave the "office" and head home. This could be the time when you do more manageable and less energy demanding tasks. It might also be the time for reconnecting with your colleagues, virtually. Maybe you have some traditions within your company; perhaps you leave a status update on your internal communication channels, i.e., Slack.

4. Setting up a local support network

Global networks are incredible and are absolutely something you should strive for, but there's also a need for a local network- even if it's just for short-term. The people around you are the people that have an immediate influence on you, direct inspiration, and who can get you back on-track if you experience a period of downtime. There are various resources to find like-minded people in your area. One of the most popular being Nomad List.

Nomad List lets you discover and plan your trip online. It gives you access to a growing invaluable network of people chatting through Slack, supporting each other and sharing inspirational content. You can easily see who's gonna be in the same area as you. You can also have access to various coworking spaces which is, in general, a great way to get started with your remote work. Another great site that you might already know is Meetup.

Meetup is a resource of, events (often free) around you, sorted by topic, and thus makes it easier to meet like-minded people in your industry. While at the same time, this format lowers the barrier of finding and engaging with others; simply because it's not uncommon to go to a meetup alone. Plus, everybody is generally open for conversation - after all, that's why they are there.

WeWork and Coworker are other great resources to find coworking spaces around your area or a place you're planning to travel to in the near future. It's a great way to discover places you might have never heard of! Workspaces are sortable by price range and you can easily book through the websites or message the owners if you have any questions. Often these places even provide you with a free day-pass. Again lowering the social barriers, and making sure you find the right fit.

Sp8ces is a new concept rolling out in Denmark. It transforms restaurants and hotel spaces into coworking spaces. These places would otherwise be either closed altogether or with only a very limited number of customers.

Now, if you're just looking for people to hang out with or people who're in the same situation as you, InterNations is a great resource. Each location has a group of passionate people responsible for welcoming new people into the local community. You can find people online, send messages, see their journeys, and host or attend events with other nearby expats.

5. Keep time zones in mind when planning

The perfect timeslot for you, might necessarily not be the perfect time for your colleagues! For meetings, flexibility is encouraged with your teammates on the other side of the globe. Make sure to mix things up a bit. Maybe you take turns to decide when to have the meeting. Your morning one week, their morning the next time, etc.

6. Define a communication practice in your business

Even though you might be sitting a hundred- or thousands of miles apart; proper communication is not in the slightest less important- quite the contrary! When you don't have an everyday chat in the kitchen waiting for the coffee machine to brew your next cup, and you're not sitting in the same cantine enjoying lunch together- you need another space for such communication. 

In these modern days, there are an ever-expanding array of services to stay connected with your colleagues. Chat tools, like Slack, are an excellent method to have a direct casual conversation throughout the day. This can be one-on-one, it can be in small groups, or to a broader group of people (i.e., channels) if the message is valuable for a larger part of the organization. 

Video conferencing is another useful tool! Probably the most physically transcending experience widely available at the moment. It adds an extra layer to a regular conference call, but also creates for an intruding form of remote conversation. Then of course in the future, we may have full-blown VR / AR meeting environments, where we can all meet in a virtual room across vast distances- but that is probably still a few years ahead.

7. Have a proper one-truth platform in place

More specifically, a resource- and project management tool that is the center of all of your activities and communication across your team or organization. A system where everybody can see the progress of your projects and tasks. A tool where you know you can find the resources and files you need to get your job done. 

Having an all-in-one system for a remote team is a great timesaver. Registering your time and finding the people you need when you need them doesn't have to be stressful! No switching back and forth or confusion of where to find what. No struggle of viewing the newest iteration of a file, or the current status of this particular task on which you're working. It's all in there for everybody to see.

Depending on your company's desire and needs, Forecast could be a great option here, but there are various solutions out there.

8. Arrange company events

Having a quarterly, bi-monthly or annual company event gives colleagues something to look forward to. Depending on how many are working remotely, whether it's the whole team, a part of it, or maybe just a few people; everyone should still feel included and be apart of company events. Some entirely remote organizations even arrange vacations together. A weekend, a few days, or maybe a whole week together. Other companies have more regular team events, like an annual party for the Holidays, etc. The importance is that the focus is on bringing everybody together, and feels a part of something bigger.

We hope you got a great headstart with this article.

Kasper Nymand
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Kasper Nymand
Yello! I'm Kasper, and I'm doing Marketing at Forecast. Apart from that, I enjoy experimenting with various projects to see where my imagination brings me.
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