How does remote working work

The complete remote work guide (for freedom-loving employees and freelancers)

Last update:

Many people no longer want to drive to the office every day. You long for more flexibility, both in terms of time and space. Chances are you are one of them when reading this article. We have been working remotely ourselves for a number of years and would like to give you an overview of what remote work is, what advantages and disadvantages there are and how it can work for you.

We also write about a wide variety of topics related to remote work and working in the home office:

What is remote work?

Remote work describes work that does not have to take place in a conventional office, but can be done from anywhere. The basis for this form of work is the Internet, which connects the company that works remotely and its employees with one another. You can do remote work e.g. B. pursue from your couch as well as in the nearby Starbucks. However, a distinction is made between jobs that are completely location-independent (quasi five working days per week) and those in which the employer allows one to four remote working days per week.

Buffer has created an interesting “Remote Working Scale” for this. which subdivides these categories again:

(Source: Buffer)

Working remotely: how does it work?

If you want to work remotely, this is the first important step that is necessary for this adventure. In addition, there are other factors that influence this decision and which I would like to describe in more detail below. They are arranged according to (subjective) relevance.

employer

The first requirement is, of course, an employer who is positive about remote work. That means the company has to work actively to create a remote culture. Of course, it's great when companies advertise remote jobs. In the next step, however, the company must also be geared towards location-independent cooperation. So if you are looking for jobs, find out about the values ​​of your potential employer and try to find testimonials from employees who also work there remotely.

Mindset

The next important point on the list is your mindset. Are you ready for a remote job? It's great that you're interested in working remotely. Now it's about getting a better feel for a potential remote working day. Questions that you can ask yourself are e.g. B .:

  • Am I able to manage myself and work independently?
  • Am I able to withstand distractions?
  • Do I have to rely on (physically present) colleagues?
  • Is it okay for me to communicate with colleagues via chat / video chat?
  • Can I motivate myself to meet deadlines?

In the end, you have to clarify for yourself whether this type of work really works for you in the medium or long term.

team

In addition to yourself and your employer, it is of course also crucial to have a team around you that shares the same values. In general, however, this is already given by the fact that the employer is looking for people who have already tried out remote work or are extremely motivated to work regardless of location.

Tools

In order for teamwork to be successful, it is also important to use the right software in order to be able to work together optimally. These include B. Instant messaging software like Slack, video conferencing software like Google Hangouts or project management software like Asana. The choice of tools must be highly individual and adapted to the company and its processes.

Equipment

Last but not least, you should make sure that your technical equipment is designed to work remotely. That sounds more grandiose now than it is. In my opinion, these two things are essential:

  • Fast internet
  • Powerful computer with webcam

Everything else (like noise-canceling headphones or a second screen) are things that can increase your productivity in the next step, but are not absolutely necessary to be able to work remotely.

Advantages and disadvantages of remote work

Remote work (like so much in life) has both advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, I would like to take a look below at which things speak in favor of location-independent work and which speak against it.

Benefits of remote work

In my opinion, the advantages of remote work predominate, which is why it is my preferred form of work.

Spatial flexibility

All you need to work remotely is a computer and internet. This also means that you are very flexible in terms of space. You can work from your couch, a co-working space or even a café in Paris. From my own experience I can say that it feels very free and easily gives you the opportunity to discover new countries, but to keep your own daily schedule flexible.

Temporal flexibility

In addition to spatial flexibility, the time factor also plays a role. An office usually has “opening times” that more or less correspond to the general working hours of the employees. This means that your working hours are practically fixed. If you work remotely, you can often decide more freely about the distribution of your working hours. Of course, your daily schedule can look exactly like that of a normal employee. But he doesn't have to. If you want to pick up your child from kindergarten, go shopping or go to sports, you can integrate this into your daily work schedule. Of course, this also depends on the employer, but in most cases there are no strict restrictions unless the work is heavily dependent on other office hours. In the sales area, for example, it may be possible that you have to work during normal office hours of your potential customers.

Time saving

Another nice factor is the time that remote work can save you. It is mainly about the daily commute to the office and back home. Of course, you will achieve the maximum effect here if you work from home.

Comfort

Another benefit of remote work is that it is extremely convenient. By not having to drive to an office every day, you have the opportunity to set up your work environment according to your wishes and needs. Of course, this also requires a lot of self-management and self-motivation. In addition, it is simply very pleasant to be able to work without having to think too much about suitable clothing, a fitting hairstyle or the like.

Disadvantages of remote work

In addition to all of the advantages that remote work offers, there are also a few potential disadvantages that I would not like to withhold from you.

Distractions

Remote work requires a high degree of self-management and the ability to structure one's own day alone. In contrast to the normal office, however, there are significantly more distractions that can significantly affect your own productivity. In addition, the fact that often nobody notices when you procrastinate ensures that the consequences seem harmless at first. Still, when you're working, you need to be able to withstand small distractions.

Isolation and lack of social relationships

If you work remotely, you will mostly only communicate with your colleagues via video chat or Slack. In most cases, that means not having any colleagues physically present. Remote work could therefore be a challenge, especially for people who love to talk to other people directly and for whom video conferencing is not a real alternative.

My remote work experience

I have been working remotely since 2017 and I am completely convinced of the concept. Here are 7 learnings that I can give you.

Structure your day

First and foremost, it is essential to plan your own day as a remote job often requires a lot of independence and self-discipline. A clearly planned day gives you a solid basis to work productively.

You may already have your own tactics for structuring your day. If not, you might like these from Chet Holmes, author of The Ultimate Sales Machine:

  1. Make a daily list of your 6 most important tasks
  2. Plan how long each task will take (6 tasks of 1 hour are ideal)
  3. Assign the tasks to the free time slots of your day
  4. Start by completing the tasks

Invest in your equipment

It may sound obvious, but I have often worked with people who repeatedly struggle with communication difficulties, for example due to poor internet. You shouldn't skimp on two things: your computer and your internet. Both will be essential for your (future) remote job and should therefore almost be viewed as an investment.

In order to be able to hold video conferences without interruption, a 6,000 line is sometimes enough, but I would always recommend investing € 5 more and thus (if possible) unlocking a higher transmission speed. With a PC, you should make sure that you have installed a fast hard drive (e.g. SSD), enough RAM (at least 8 GB) and a reasonable processor

Set up a permanent workplace

Remote work sounds like working on the beach at first. Even if that is possible, your normal working day will probably not look like this. Rather, you should set up a permanent workplace where you can work productively and without distraction. This can be at your home or e.g. B. also be in a co-working space.

A good workplace requires at least a good desk and a suitable office chair. The temptation to save on both is well known to me. Nevertheless, I noticed how important both utensils are when you sit at your desk for several hours every day. With office chairs in particular, it makes perfect sense to test them on site and then buy them on the Internet, if necessary.

Reduce distractions

Working remotely can also be challenging because you need to train yourself to be steadfast in spite of all possible sources of distraction. The difference to normal office life is that no colleagues sit in the same office and no boss looks over his shoulder every now and then. So you have to completely encourage yourself to actually work during your work hours.

The first step in minimizing distractions is to understand what types of distractions you are prone to. For example, I often find myself far too quickly reading the third exciting blog article without realizing how much time has already passed. That's why I created a reading list via Pocket, to which I can add important articles with one click. Maybe it's Facebook or Instagram with you. If so, you could block these sites during business hours. Whatever it is. Identify the problem and find an elegant way to get rid of it. Feel free to tell me in the comments what you are doing to keep distractions away or where you need help.

Learn to separate work and personal life

In my opinion, the separation between work and private life is even more difficult in a remote job than in a normal job. The reason for this is the lack of spatial separation between work and home. For me that was often a real problem in my early days because I couldn't really stop working. Even if I still don't master it perfectly, I've gotten better at it.

It definitely helped me to use a living room as an office. In this room I work and in this room I leave my laptop (and with it my work) after work. It also helped me to track my working hours more precisely and to stop when I had finished my daily number of hours. If it gets 10 minutes longer, that's no problem. It's simply about developing a better awareness of your own working hours (and therefore productivity).

Take care of your private life

In addition to the lack of separation between work and private life, the next step is also to look after your private life. It's good when you have a life besides work. Make sure that it is phenomenal, whereby you can define phenomenal yourself, of course. For some, that means going to the fitness center every day after work. For the other, it's the weekly social get-together with friends.

It helped me to get things fixed and we started planning the following week on every Sunday of each week. Not only professional but also private things flow into the planning, such as B. watch a movie or do sports. In this way I plan an exciting week and educate myself to really do things that I plan to do.

How can I get a remote job in 2019?

Unfortunately, there are only a few German-speaking platforms that offer remote jobs. Internationally, however, it looks quite different. We have put together a list of the 59 best job portals for remote jobs (including well-known players such as We Work Remotely or RemoteOK, but also some interesting newbies that only a few have on their screen so far).

▶ ️ Find out more: 59 remote job platforms

Conclusion

Before you start the adventure of remote work, you should clarify for yourself whether this way of working is right for you. Of course, there are some things that are difficult to assess before really working remotely. The decisive factor is, above all, your motivation to want to work independently and responsibly. If you have any further questions, just write them in the comments. I would like to help you!