With the rise in tools that bring our work and communication online, people are increasingly ditching traditional office environments for setups that support working from a home, beach or co-working space.
Some organizations, like the non-profit group Avaaz, operate entirely virtually, with staff all over the world, and no established offices. Others offer employees the option of working remotely.
There is also a growing group of entrepreneurs and freelancers who choose to work remotely while traveling. Digital nomads, as they’re called, work virtually while living in new cities or countries every few weeks or months. In recent years, coworking houses like Sende and Nomad House have sprung up around the world so that digital nomads can live with like-minded people.
If you’re considering working remotely, here are five tips to help you prepare and make the most out of this work style.
Set a Realistic Budget
Do your research on what your expenses will be as you work remotely. Do you need to increase your Internet speed at home or rent a desk at a co-working space? If you’re working for a company remotely, talk to your employer about how to account for any increased expenses. If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer, these expenses will come out of your business, so be sure to budget accordingly.
When it comes to living expenses, your lifestyle will of course dictate your budget. There’s no shortage of online bloggers who break down their expenses when working remotely, so be sure to look up blogs that correspond with where you’ll be working for an idea of costs. Be sure to tweak their numbers to your lifestyle, as you may prefer to live more or less frugally, and the discrepancy can be huge.
Create an Environment Conducive to Work
Your environment has a huge impact on your work and productivity. Make sure to weigh the options when choosing where to work. Are you more suited to work out of a coffee shop, co-working space, library or home office? Test out a few locations until you find something that suits your style. Consider noise levels, the type of people you want to surround yourself with (if anyone at all), and distractions.
You have the ultimate flexibility on your work space, so make sure to customize it to your preferences. For example, you can work from a standing desk, treadmill desk or a yoga ball chair.
Brainstorm what you may need in your ideal environment, from office supplies to healthy snacks, and begin creating a space that is conducive to creativity, wellness and productivity.
Stay in Contact
Use collaboration tools like Skype and Google Hangout to keep in touch with your co-workers, team or clients. If you’re using a mobile phone internationally, apps like WhatsApp and Viber allow you to send free text messages and make free calls to others who also use those apps. Also, Google Voice allows you to make free phone calls to North America from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection.
There’s no shortage of project management tools including the popular options of Asana, Smartsheet, Basecamp, and Trello. If you’re working remotely as part of a team, consider using software like these to help you track work progress and collaborate online.
Use Powerful Tools
There is no shortage of Internet tools and apps available to support working remotely. For example, Intuit’s cloud based bookkeeping software allows multiple people to work on an account from a variety of devices. Boomerang enables you to schedule your emails to be sent at a later time. This can be especially helpful if you’re in a different time zone than the people you’re emailing or if you like working late into the night and don’t want clients or coworkers to see that you’re sending emails at 2 am. If you do work with people in different time zones, keep this world clock handy. Dropbox and Google Docs are both great tools for organizing and sharing files virtually. Remember to back up your documents to avoid losing important contacts, photos and other files.
Connect with Your Community
Working remotely can be isolating. To counteract that, make an effort to connect with like-minded people. Check out a Meetup group in your area to expand your network, stay active, practice your hobbies, or learn new ones. You can also use social media networks like Twitter and Instagram to connect with others who’ve made a similar lifestyle choice. Participating in online discussion boards like Reddit’s /r/digitalnomad or tapping into online communities like Find a Nomad can help you connect with other remote workers or nomads in your area.
If you choose to work abroad, check to see if your country has a High Commission where you’re based. You can usually participate in social and networking events through them. To connect with the wider community where you’re based, you can use a site like Couchsurfing to meet locals.
By following these five tips, your choice to work remotely or to follow in the footsteps of a digital nomad can be just as productive and engaging as working in an office. The key is to not lose touch with colleagues or clients and to take advantage of the tools and services available to create a setup that works for you.
Photo Copyright: Matej Kastelic