A few weeks ago I was working alongside the gorgeous Pacific Ocean, as I sat on a bench literally on the coastline of the friendly town of Yachats, Oregon. I had a startling revelation while working there on my laptop, feeling the cool ocean breeze: I realized I want to choose where I work for the rest of my life.
Image a life with total workplace autonomy. A life where your office is literally wherever you want it to be. As a fully remote freelance writer, this is the reality I live. And I’m not alone.
In fact, right now over 3 million people work remotely in the US alone. And that number is expected to grow. It’s estimated that this year over a billion people in the world will be working remotely.
These employees (myself included) are proving that brick-and-mortar workplaces are becoming a thing of the past.
If a person can get more accomplished without wasting time, resources, and energy commuting to work, doesn’t that just seem logical?
While remote work breeds freedom and flexibility it can also present a unique set of challenges to those trying it for the first time. I’ve learned a lot in the past several years of remote work, so I felt inclined to share these juicy bits of information with all of you. After much reflection on my habits, I know what’s worked well for me, and what’s been held me back as a fully remote employee.
First and foremost, you’ll want to invest in a high-quality laptop. Nothing screams portability quite like a laptop you are absolutely comfortable with. Be sure to choose one with a solid webcam, as you’ll likely be chatting with a superior via Skype or another platform at some point.
If you desire working in remote locations or in nature, you’ll want to choose a laptop rated with an extended battery life. Either that or invest in a portable charger. That way you could take your office work with you on a hiking trip if you really wanted to.
You’ll likely also want to invest in some comfortable, noise canceling headphones. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been working from a coffee shop and needed to cancel out the chime of conversations that were resonating throughout the building. Cutting out the excess noise helps keep the focus on work and away from distractions.
Another highly useful accessory to own is a mobile WiFi hotspot. This way you’ll always have access to the internet, wherever you can get cell phone reception. Just remember to keep your mobile hotspots password protected; you don’t want anyone mooching your connection in public and eating up your bandwidth.
While a flexible work environment is beneficial, it may also help to have one or two ‘anchored’ locations for work. Personally, I do this by having a desk where I can work from my laptop and a smart television converted into a desktop PC.
This way I can work from either an office chair, a comfortable couch, or pretty much anywhere else I desire. In the times when I need to really buckle down and focus, a home office is sometimes ideal.
Productive Remote Worker Habits
For me, remote work hasn’t always been a walk in the park, despite literally working at a park on several occasions. This is because working with almost infinite levels of flexibility can sometimes be challenging.
Here’s where the unusual ‘problem’ lies.
Given all the freedom in the world can be daunting. It is remarkable, don’t get me wrong, but remote work also requires a bit more accountability for oneself. If you worked from a place where you couldn’t get things accomplished, you ultimately have yourself to blame.
So experiment with working from many places remotely. This way, you’ll figure out what is ideal and what is less than ideal. Find what works, and stick with it. And if you’re struggling to work from a given place, change that environment or try working somewhere else. Do not become stagnant, rather, work from a place that motivates and excites you.
The Vastness of Deductions and Write-Offs
Something that may be new to remote or freelance workers is the idea of tax deductions.
Tracking all of your expenses can be meticulous and frustrating. But at the same time, every expense you forget to record is a business write-off that you’ve missed. Become adamant about recording and organizing all of your personal deductions and write-offs. You’ll save a lot of money at tax time if you do. There are even ways of automatically importing your receipts and expenses.
If you’re unsure and scratching your head at this concept, check out an article I wrote last year about tax deductions. I’m sure you’ll find this useful if you plan to either freelance or work remotely. Learn from my past mistakes!
Furthermore, keeping track of your work by creating invoices is a wise decision. This is something that I do in order to keep my freelance work organized. The Square app for invoices is my go-to, as it gives my work a professional feel without excessive out-of-pocket costs. I’ve even received instant payments for work through the Square Cash app.
Don’t Let Procrastination Win
Easier said than done, right? Even just in the amount of time, it’s taken me to write this article I’ve been tempted to procrastinate several times. But I didn’t cave, instead, I powered through and finished writing in one sitting.
Many people struggle with procrastination over the course of their entire lives. If you feel like you fit into this category, you’ll likely benefit by keeping procrastination on the forefront of your mind.
Rather than putting tasks off to a later date, approach them directly. Set rigid deadlines for yourself during your peak work hours. This is beneficial for two main reasons: you’ll get your work accomplished sooner rather than later, and your days will fly by when you are highly productive.
All in all, remote work is a truly beautiful thing. Every day I’m able to work while hanging out with my beloved pet cat, and I never even have to leave my house if I don’t feel like it. While it may take some adjustments and fine-tuning, jump at any chance you have to switch to a remote work situation.
You’ll never look back once you do!