Remote working: my experience over the past 7 years

Remote working is one the best things that has happened to me in the past decennium. I have been working without an office for seven years now and I don’t think that I ever want to go back to office life. Here’s my experience.

Working remote boosts my productivity

Starting my day at home makes it much easier for me to balance between work and family matters. This has two reasons. The first is that I’m much more productive starting at 8:00 in the morning at home, than being stuck in traffic between 7:00 and 8:30. This also means that I’ll be able to spend more time with my family in the morning and during the rest of the day. Considering the fact that my wife is sick, it’s a big relief for us all that I’m around.

The second reason is, that working remote increases my productivity. Recently I visited a company whose chairman thinks remote working is the same as not working. I think and experience the opposite. The most companies and offices that I visit are inefficient environments. They have tons of useless meetings and people are starting early or are leaving late because those are the only hours they can really do some work. I work as a product owner and designer at CE-iT and we don’t have an office. We don’t have useless meetings and nobody misses those meetings. The only recurring meeting is our daily ten minute stand-up call. This call is used to discuss hot items and to check if anyone needs help.

Remote working

People feel responsible

One of the most common remarks that I get when I tell people that we work remote is: How do you ensure that people are actually working? Aren’t people easily distracted at home? To start with the latter, the answer is no. In my experience most people are more often distracted in the office than people who work remote. That’s because of the useless meetings, small talk, people standing at your desk and so on. Those moments can be useful, but it’s killing for your productivity. Especially when your working on things that require focus.

The above doesn’t mean that we don’t have small talk at CE-iT. We do, but most of the time we send a chat first to check wether it suits. For me that’s great because it allows me to finish things first.

Now the first item: How do you ensure that people will do their work? The answer is very easy. Do you work with the right people? At CE-iT we are all responsible to make our product work in the best way possible. Nobody has to be checked in the end of the day.

Is remote working lonely?

No it is not. There are lots of tools (Slack, Skype, Whatsapp or even an old school phone call) to stay in touch with people. You will experience that contacts are more targeted, but for me that works great. And you can always throw in a joke to trigger someone.

I’ll have to admit that I had to get used to being at home a lot, but after a while you will start to experience the benefits. For me that’s being a part of my family during the day, playing on the Xbox with my son during lunchtime, saving time on commuting and more.

Pitfalls

Remote working does have some pitfalls. Especially when you’re working at home a lot instead of outdoors. In the beginning I caught myself working more and more. Just like you will have to discipline yourself to work, you will also have to discipline yourself to stop working.

I have stated earlier that remote working isn’t lonely. That is true, but it has a pitfall. If you have a one person household or if you’re working on a project without team members, you might have to force yourself to contact people. If you don’t do that, you can become a one person island. In my case, I work with a team and most of the time I’m not alone at home.

Remote working from Sweden

Do I want to keeping working remote?

The answer to that question is 100% YES. My family loves it and I do so too. I have seen more of my 12 year old boy than most other fathers that I know and I absolutely don’t miss those traffic jams. Sometimes I do get tempted, because their are companies with an office that I really like. But they do need to be more seductive to get me moving towards them, because remote working enables me to expand my holiday with my family from the lovely Sweden!

21Nomads

I started 21Nomads because I more people should work remote and I want to help people land their first or next remote job. 21Nomads isn’t a new concept, but most of the remote jobs site that I’ve visited have lots of jobs that aren’t remote.

So I hope that maybe you will find your remote job with 21Nomads. I’d love to hear it from you. If you want to share your remote work experience, just let me know and I will publish it.

By Wim

A techie who likes to do UX and WordPress stuff. Remote worker since 2010.

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The latest apps

Bear

Bear is a note taking app build by a tiny Italian company Shiny Frog and is a new kid on the block. It seems to do everything right from looks to function to syncing. It doesn’t have the same amount of features as some competitors. Bear uses Apple’s CloudKit to do this. This means that you don’t have to create an extra account, because it uses your Apple. It also means that your data is encrypted with Apple’s private keys and that the developers at Shiny Frog don’t have access to your credentials or data

Platforms

iOS, Mac.

Pricing

  • Free with limited features and without syncing.
  • Premium $ 14,99 annually.

Pro

  • Clean and great user interface.
  • Export notes to HTML, DOCX, PDF and more.
  • Low price.

Con

  • Only available on iOS and Mac.

You can read more about bear in our blog.

Todoist

This is an app worth trying. Todoist does a lot of things right as a to do app. You can add notes, attachments, dates and more to a task. It lets you create multiple lists and you can share these lists with other users. The sharing with other users works pretty well in Todoist and perhaps better than with other to do apps. This makes it a bit more of a collaboration tool than competitors.

Todoist has a clear and well designed user interface, but there are some minor flaws. For instance the feature for displaying completed tasks. This is hidden in a menu. Apps like Wunderlist display this feature on the main screen, which makes it easier to use. But Todoist does syncing better and in the end it’s a great app.

Platforms

IOS, Android, PC, Mac, Chrome.

Pricing

  • Free.
  • $ 28.99 / year for the premium plan which adds features like labels and increases the number of people on projects.

Pros

  • Available as an app on all major platforms.
  • Syncing works fast and reliable.
  • Sharing and collaborating works very well.

Cons

  • Some features are a bit hard to find.

Pixelmator

If you want a great app for photo editting, than you must try Pixelmator. It’s great on Mac and probably one of the best photo apps for mobile devices. You can edit photos on numerous ways with filters, color adjustments, cropping, repair tools, layers and more. The iPad, and even iPhone, app is a joy to use when your on the go and it integrates with Apples default photo app. For most people Pixelmator will be the best value for money for photo editting. You will pay a one time fee with no subscription model, making it a bargain compared to Adobe.

Platforms

IOS, Mac.

Pricing

  • IOS $ 4,99.
  • Mac $ 29,99.

Pros

  • For most users this app offers all they need.
  • Cheap.

Cons

  • Only available on IOS and Mac.

Scannable

This app belongs to the Evernote house. Scannable is not unique, but it has a clear purpose for scanning documents and it does that job very well. You can save scanned documents to Evernote or your photo library. The team of Scannable did a great job with the design of the app which lets you use it without having to think about the how. Scannable enables you to have a paperless administration and that’s a nice thing to have.

Platforms

  • IOS, Android.

Pricing

  • Free.

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • No more worries about paper receipts.

Cons

Pocket

Pocket is a great app for people who are travelling, but also when you’re not travelling. It enables you to save articles found on the web for later. Even when you’re offline. You just have to click save to pocket in your browser or app and it will be saved. Pocket also lets you add tags to articles to stay organized. It can easily become your digital archive for web content.

Platforms

IOS, Android, PC, Mac.

Pricing

  • Free and that will do it for most people.
  • There is also a premium plan for $ 4,99/month. The premium plan has advance search permanent backup and suggested tags.

Pro

  • You can read articles on the go, even without an internet conncection.
  • Tags to organize content.
  • Easy to use.

Con