I have worked remotely most of my working life, starting in late 1980’s, yes, even back in the last century there was such a thing as ‘virtual teams’ (although I am sure we did not refer to ourselves as such).
When I started working from home, I was an employee working for a consultancy with a Head Office in London (and then in the Midlands) that had a team of consultants who spent most of our time either in the client’s premises or working at home, coming together for occasional meetings and a great annual conference. These were the heady ‘pre-internet’, early days of the mobile phone, no email, just fax machines in the 1990’s which were quite revolutionary to home working!
Apart from the technological changes, there have been a number of psychological and behavioural changes that I have noticed over the years, and marked differences to how it feels to work remotely when you are an employee to if you are self-employed.
Remote working as an employee
The first thing I became aware of when I left a ‘co-located’ workplace to one in which I worked mostly from home was the feeling that I had to be at my desk all the time. Whilst I am not saying disregard your usual working hours, I am saying that you should not feel guilty about taking a break, nipping out to the shops or being more flexible in your working pattern.
It has been well researched that home workers tend to put in more hours than those working in an office.
Likewise, do not feel guilty to have boundaries which state that you are not available at weekends or in the evening. A good employer should have your health and well being as a priority, and you need time to recover and relax.
I found it took me a long time to get rid of the feeling that someone would think I was slacking, if I was not at my desk, not because my employer was putting this pressure on me, but because I was putting that pressure on myself.
Remote working as self-employed
Although the freedom of being self-employed is one of the main reasons many people take this route, the freedom can in itself be a problem. You still need to have regular routines, even if you accept that you can flex these.
Planning your week and your day is one of the habits to adopt. I find Sunday evenings is the right time for me to take a look at the week ahead and schedule into the week my main priorities.
In subsequent posts, I will go deeper into routines and recommend various apps and tools which have helped me.
In the meantime, stay fit and well!