On Working Remotely and Smartly

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Without sounding like an arrogant millennial, I have to admit that I’m feeling #blessed. Why? Because I found myself working at a company that has wholeheartedly embraced the growing workplace trend of telecommuting – the fancy term for working remotely. 

I’ve been part of the COMMUNICATE team for almost a year now, but I’ve also been away for almost a year as well. Why is that, you might ask? To put it in simple terms, my work visa is pending so in the meantime, I’ve been working from home. It has been challenging to adjust to this new way of work but I’ve remained optimistic and found the silver lining in my situation. It has been an opportunity to work on some personal development and learnt a thing or two about dedication and perseverance along the way.  

The Daily Grind

So, how does a typical day for a telecommuter like me look like? I usually wake up at 9am, or maybe a little later if I had a late-night prior. Next, I head over to kitchen to make my breakfast and cup of coffee. Since I skip the daily commute, I spend a good chunk of my morning browsing for design inspiration, catching up on emails from the night before or planning out my deadlines for the day.  

Unless there’s an early conference call, my work mode officially begins a little before 10 in the morning, which is roughly around the same time that the COMMUNICATE team in Malaysia begins their workday as well. I usually have quick catch-up sessions with my respective team leads via Whatsapp or Skype,— it’s a must to stay connected. 

My entire day is then dedicated to work, with little pockets of time for a quick bite to eat and mini coffee breaks. At COMMUNICATE, it’s (unofficially) part of the job description to be able to multitask different roles. Hence, my daily agenda can range from preparing artworks to project managing other clients’ projects.

Commune Café + Bar is one of my favourite spots for good coffee.

The Perks

My current gig of working outside the office comes with some fun perks too. While I miss being around my work colleagues, one thing that has worked great in my favour is that there’s less distractions for office chitchat. You can also focus on getting work done quickly and quietly as there’s less chances of being dragged into last-minute meetings. I can also practice my culinary skills during my lunch break, since the kitchen is only a few steps away from my dedicated workspace. Sometimes, when I’m feeling the weekend vibe, I head over to a local café and work from there. 

A change of view helps – of course, with a delicious plate of pasta!

The Smart Tips

Working thousands of miles away from the office might take some time to get used to. So, here are some tips that I’ve learnt along the way while working from home. 

1. Be Responsible

This remains the utmost important golden rule for people who work remotely. 

It’s a must to constantly remind yourself that while you’re not physically not in the office, you’re still accountable for the deadlines assigned to you. Give yourself that pep talk that you need to build credibility with the team that you’re reliable regardless of where you are.  

2. Set A Rhythm

Working remotely from home might not be for everyone as some might find it more distracting than being in the office. I’m not immune to this as I initially struggled to keep myself focused on work at home. But just like starting a new job, you need to give yourself some time to get used to your new environment. 

I’ve adjusted quite well since my first week of working from home with a weekly routine that I’ve created for myself. Having a routine in my schedule allowed me to anticipate my week better, which keeps me focused on my weekly tasks. On the other hand, routines can get mundane and boring. So, I like to switch up my usual work-at-home environment by taking my work outside to different locations such as a nearby coffee shop.  But nevertheless, my regular work hours remain the same. 

3. “Show Up” to Meetings

One of the things that I look forward to while working remotely is our monthly team huddles, which takes place as a video conference. The team huddle is the designated time for the team to update each other on ongoing COMMUNICATE projects. It’s a great way for everyone to catch up with each other, and because dress code isn’t necessary, I do this in my pajamas if necessary (another perk!). But even if I don’t have much updates for the team, a simple “hello” or “goodbye” goes a long way. 

4. When there’s a will (to get connected), there’s a way.

Staying connected is crucial when working remotely. Thankfully, with today’s technological advancements, there’s always a way to connect with colleagues and clients – even during a typhoon season! 

Manila was affected by the typhoon season earlier this year, which caused intermittent WIFI connections throughout the entire city, making it hard for most of us in Manila to do much work on our computers.  Unfortunately for me, deadlines were still set and needed to be met. So, I took a road trip to Nueva Ecija located a few hours north of Manila where I stayed with my relatives to escape the storm and made full use of their more reliable internet connection. Where there’s a will (and critical deadlines looming), there’s a way. 

I’m always only one text message away, even though I’m a hundred miles away from the team!

I do miss my COMMUNICATE family and all the fun shenanigans that the team gets up to in the office. However, I’ve found that working remotely does have its perks.

As for now, with the right spirit and attitude, telecommuting can work in your favour as it did for me.