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Two years of working remotely

I’ve been working remotely for just over 2 years now and my current position is my first remote post.

Before joining my current company I (and them) had concerns about me working from home. Would I like it? Would I find it isolating? Would I go completely mad?

Actually that last question is one I’ve been asked a lot when I tell people that I work from home. My usual response is….”If I’ve gone mad, how would I know??”

My office buddy, Spuddy!

Anyway as it turns out, I absolutely love working from home!

I do want to say that I think remote working is not for everyone though. If you enjoy the social aspect of working in an office you probably won’t enjoy working from home. It also really depends on how the team that you work with. If your team can communicate effectively out of the office, then you’re in good stead.

I’ve been lucky in that the team I work with was used to having purely remote members. I wasn’t the first DBA they’d hired from Ireland (the majority of my team is based in the U.S.) and they are really good at using virtual meetings and Google Chat.

To be honest it doesn’t really matter which chat program you use, as long as you use one, and use it well! I’ve often thought about how my job would be if I had to communicate solely via email and I just…shudder.

So, I don’t want this post to be a list of guidelines for what you should do when working from home, nor will it be a list of equipment that you should buy. What I want to do is talk about what works for me, and you can then decide if any of things mentioned here will work for you.

For example, I don’t listen to music when I work. I prefer to work in pretty much complete silence…I can concentrate better. I’ve only ever really listened to music when I’ve been working on something pretty boring and repetitive…something that (thankfully) doesn’t happen much in my current role.

There are probably people who read that and couldn’t imagine the thought of working in complete silence…what works for me doesn’t work for them, we’re all different so I don’t think that there could ever be a definitive guide to “how to work from home”. This post is just to talk about my experiences.

One thing that people told me when I first started working from home was that they would have difficult focusing as there’s too many distractions. This was something that I was concerned about as I’m definitely not the most disciplined of people…would I just while away the hours surfing online?

To be honest, it really hasn’t been an issue. Once I’ve started working…I’m working. Ok, there have been times where I’ve spent half an hour on chores that I really should have done in the evening but I’ve used that time to try and step away from a problem that I was stuck on, and come back to it fresh(er). Ack, I’ve had mixed results…sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t…but hey, at least I’ve done my washing! One thing it does do is prevent me from getting overly frustrated and end up really getting in a tangle.

With regards to work areas, a lot of people have a separate office…which I’d LOVE to have. I don’t have a separate room for work, my work desk is in a corner of my living room. This is fine for me as I live on my own but I do make efforts to ensure that I don’t start to feel like I spend all of my life in one room.

My work area

So I try to get out of my flat every chance I get. I go to the gym, go for a walk along the beach…hit the pub (AFTER work, honestly). One thing that I always do no matter what, is go and buy a coffee down the street at around 10am. It gives me a break an hour into the day, gets me some fresh air, and then I can get back to work.

Lunch time is another chance to get away from the desk, even if it’s just a stroll around the block, just something to get out. Then I’ll pretty much work straight through to 6pm but then, again, I try to get out. Of course, this is all weather permitting so with me being in Ireland, this doesn’t happen every day.

It can also be difficult just to tear myself away some days. I’ll get deep into something, stay glued to the desk but I’d say I get out of the flat at least twice a day. Just to make sure those walls don’t start closing in on me!

Another great way of breaking up the day is a standing desk. Although this’ll work no matter where you are (office or at home). I bought a cheap converter desk and would highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking at buying their first standing desk.

I’ll stand up for the first part of the morning, sit down after I get my coffee, back standing after lunch, and then sit down for the rest of the day. It seems to break the day up nicely.

Then, when the day’s over, I get away from my work area. If I have to continue using a computer to work on blog posts, sessions etc. I’ll get out of the flat for a bit and then when I come back, I’ll work from either my settee, or my dining table.

Some of the things I’ve talked about here won’t work for you but the BEST thing about working remotely is that you get to find out what DOES work for you. You have (almost?) total control over your work environment and you can tailor it to how you want it.

Thanks for reading!