So, you made the move. You took the chance to bring change to your life, to improve your work-life balance and to work more flexibly. You’ve walked away from the tedious office politics, the unhappy faces of the daily commute, the constant battle for a parking space, and that really annoying person in Accounts, whose name you can never remember. Let’s call him Dan. Every large company has a ‘Dan from Accounts’.
Now you’ve struck out into this brave new world of independence and become a remote worker, you’re looking forward to enjoying all the many benefits of this new way of living and working. It’s new and exciting, a real opportunity. But as with everything, every new opportunity brings new challenges. They may be things you’d expected or thought about, things you’d anticipated. At the same time, there may be unexpected moments in this new remote world. Welcome, or sometimes unwelcome, surprises.
Even though the remote worker has these freedoms, and this flexibility, we all need rhythm. Our lives are given shape by the rhythm we live to. Our bodies and minds work to a rhythm. It’s not just about time, either. Although that certainly plays a part in settling into the new life of a remote worker. We do need that kind of structure.
The rhythm of remote work means you know when you work best, and when you have the most focus and energy. None of us are ‘on' for 24 hours a day. We all have our natural dynamic, our highs and lows, during the day. For me, weirdly, it’s either early in the morning, or the graveyard shift of the hours after midnight. My mental energy is at it’s highest in the morning, I can get through bigger tasks, leaving the smaller issues - emails, messages, admin - to the afternoon. I also find it easy to concentrate when nobody else is around late at night. I know my rhythm, and how to use it for the best effect in my work. So yes, some structure is good. Especially if you’re making that transition from being office based to life as a digital nomad.
Its easy, after a move to remote working, to forget one the most important reasons you made the move. You’ve come from a job that limited you to certain hours on certain days and in a certain location. That’s a lot of certainty. Remote work removes some of that certainty, and that’s a good thing. But its so simple to fall in the trap of overworking, of staying logged in at all times of the day, of being accessible to others for seven days a week. Ask yourself why? Are they making themselves accessible for so much time? Are they logged in and working when everyone else isn't? Obviously, that’s a no.
So it’s important for remote workers to relax into the role. Make some dedicated time for yourself a part of the rhythm of your work. A walk, a meal out, a trip to the gym. And of course, some time off. It doesn’t have to be at the weekend, you have that flexibility. Just follow the rhythm of your new life and take time to enjoy the freedom. Remember always, the work-life balance that you were trying to improve in the first place. The rhythm of life needs to co-exist with the rhythm of your work.
We all know of the importance of feedback too. It is central to our work whether working remotely or just across the room from the boss. We want to feel supported by our superiors, and have ample chances to speak to them, we need that contact. It’s especially important when we start working remotely, to make those opportunities for feedback a regular part of our working life. To build them into the rhythm of our work. This way we’ll feel supported, and that we’re valued still.
Remote work brings opportunity and challenge, both of which we strive for in our personal and professional lives. As long as we work to the right rhythm, the benefits are plenty. And on the plus side, we get to wave goodbye to Dan from Accounts. And that can never be a bad thing.