I have been working remotely for 3 months already! So – what have a learned so far? Which is better – working remotely from home or from a co-working space? I tried both and want to share what I learned so far 🙂
It just came and went – to be honest.. Some weeks ago I was having the three month checking with Pam and – just like that – it hit me: 3 months have passed! I have no idea how the time went so fast – but I am guessing that happiness is a factor in play 🙂
I honestly feel like I started yesterday and, therefore, still a newbie with SO MUCH to learn. Sometimes I still feel like I was in Trial. I wanted to give an overview of what it felt to approach my two biggest challenges during this process: working remotely and starting as a Full Time Happiness Engineer at Automattic. You can check how I got here from the Part 1 and Part 2 descriptions of the hiring process 🙂
May and June – Working remotely from a co-working space
For the first 2 months I worked from a co-working space – as our 0 bedroom apartment felt crunched for a daily setup.
I found a great co-working in Lisbon – a green one. Not the color, of course, but a co-working with activities like Yoga and Reiki and rooted with green values and concerns (recycling, eating green, …). It was a great space with amazing light and a great terrace to go outside and all. I believe the sentence “It’s not you – it’s me” applies here!
When I was younger I chose to study in places were I had as much noise as possible and I loved it. I couldn’t actually focus in silent spaces (like in my own room which, as you might imagine, was a delight for my parents).
- Amazing space & activities – if you choose a co-working aligned with your values
- People to talk to which is great to battle the loneliness that comes from remote work
- Leave the house every day – this, for me, is still the biggest pro of a co.working space. It forces you to wake up, get ready (shower and dress :p ) and leave your house to be surrounded by humans all day long
Nowadays, especially with the kind of work I do every day, I NEED a quiet space and I need to be able to focus without distractions for 3- 4 hours straight. When you’re working surrounded by people who say hello and expect you to answer back or are doing video calls all day long – that focus may be hard to get. Working with headphones all day long is something I no longer cherish and, for these reasons, I believe a co-working isn’t right for me. Well – it is great – just not on a daily basis. Being able to work a day a week on a co-working might be a great option though – specially in the summer.
- Depending on your working setup it might be complex to fit it all in a co.working desk
- It is not your space – so you’re bound to the rules and whatnot’s of what is happening around
- Most co-workings now – here in Lisbon – have some sort of activities. You might be expected to attend or even see your common spaces (the kitchen, terrace, meeting rooms) being used for those events. This happened a lot in the last co-working I was.
- I am an introvert person and I like to be focused. I learned that working in a co-working space where there is this option to drop in a day to experiment made a lot of comings and goings and people wanting to talk and ask question (more than actually work)
- It is not my home :p
July and August – Working from home
In July we moved to a bigger place here in Lisbon and I finally got to have my own desk. To be completely honest – I much prefer working remotely from home than a co-working space with many people around making noise, doing video calls, etc..
I need to force myself to have routines and do believe I am far from finding a balance – but am surely working on that.
The pros 👍
- It is home – no walking to the office required, no time spent on transits anywhere
- I get to have my own routine – not impacted by climate at all
- It is my environment and I can tailor it as I like – including my own monitor display, my own mug, making my tea when I want, ..
- No need for headphones – my office is as noisy or as silent as I want it to
- No need for small talk – this is a huge pro for me. I love talking with people – but hate small talk. Also, as an introvert, I enjoy that I only talk with people when I feel like it and can totally have days when I speak to no one (except my boyfriend – who I generally want to speak to every day 😛 )
- Food!! This is extremely important to me. As a macrobiotic / vegetarian it is hard to find food when I am outside and, when I can find it, it generally is expensive. Working from home allows me to cook something up or to heat some leftovers, generally being able to have a better meal than I would outside (and certainly cooked with better/healthier ingredients)
- I am actually more productive. Not sure if it is the work itself, working from home or my own motivation but I have never been this productive. I am know fully focused and highly productive at least 6 hours of my day. To be honest – I can’t believe the last time this happened (without actually working overtime to make up for the time having coffee or taking long lunch breaks or just doing small talk by the watercolor). I am really amazed by this!
The cons 👎
- Isolation – to be completely honest this is the biggest con I see of working from home. If I am not paying attention I can get to Friday without seeing anyone except the supermarket clerk, the owner of the coffee place across the street and my boyfriend. When this happens – I usually get to Friday cranky and in kind of a bad mood – which is not good for anyone!
- Lack of exercise – so this is the second most important downside for me. Working from home – to me – implies making an effort to exercise, to take a walk outside and see people, to get my muscles moving.
- Lots of people would also point out the lack of human contact with co-workers (I imagine). While I feel more connected to my team mates and I love the interactions I have with them – I can understand this is not for everyone 🙂
Tips to working remotely from Home without going somewhat crazy
From these months I’ve noticed these tricks help – a lot! Here they are:
- Take a shower and get dressed everyday as if I was leaving the house to work somewhere
- I have a terrace – so I get to spend the first hour of my day outside planning it and outlining my tasks and when to do it. I drink a cup of coffee or tea while I do this – to mimic what I would do if I went outside
- Meet some friends for a beer, talk, lunch at least once a month
- Make an extra effort to message people and stay in touch of others lives
- Make clear routines and, if possible, separate home from work. While I don’t exactly follow this, my first task after breakfast is to clean the kitchen and tidy the place up. I discovered that doing this everyday is great to keeping the place tidy. Also – it helps take those chores out of the way so form that point on I work!
- Plan lunch the day before as I would if I went to work somewhere. This is harder said than done – but I notice that the days I do this are much more productive. While I do love cooking – when I only have one hour to cook and eat I do nothing else. A lunch break is supposed to be a break and have a little time clearing the head and doing nothing
- Stay away from the TV!!! I can’t stress this enough (and again – better said than done). Getting close to the TV at lunch time means doing nothing and losing precious time to be or go outside
- Get regular activities somewhere. The first month we were living here my yoga classes were suspended for summer. Now that they restarted is actually refreshing to get out of the house. I get to walk 30 min to get there and another 30 min back. If I can, I pair that activity with meeting a friend before or after so I get a nice little clean breath of air
- When it’s over – it’s really over!!!! Don’t work “just a bit more” / “just an extra half an hour to check something”. It is easy to get it all mixed up but boundaries are important. You can still do stuff in your laptop! However, separating work and personal projects / whatever you’re doing there is really important
- Check in with yourself regularly. You’ll likely be the one person you’ll spend more time with – by far!!! If you’re not happy you won’t be a good company to yourself when you’re the sole company you have! Take care of yourself is the tip that sums all other tips I just gave (and any more I could)
What about you? Do you work remotely / from home? Do you have any tips you could share? Or any stories / experiences? I would love to hear about them – please comment below 🙂
Once again: did any of this resonate with you? Do you thing working from home or remotely would be a dream come true? Would you like to work for Automattic? Check our Jobs page: we’re always hiring!
Thanks for sharing this, Lae! Even though I haven’t join Automattic yet, I’ve always wonder whether I should work from home or co-working space. The pros and cons you listed will definitely help those who are considering working remotely.