What I have learnt in 2 years of remote working…

flexible working (4)

Today marks 2 years since I started at Chiumento and 2 years since my working life changed dramatically.  Previously I’d worked in traditional offices, spending at least 2 hours a day commuting and most of my working day being spent at a desk in an open-plan office…

Along came the opportunity to join Chiumento and that all changed…  No more commuting, no more open plan office, no more traditional 9-5 working pattern.  Hello remote working, hello online collaboration, hello home office, hello two second commute.

What have I learnt in the past two years?

  1. Remote working is still working – contrary to many people’s belief that working from home is the easy option and it’s not ‘real’ work, it really is. Although my manager and my colleagues aren’t sat next to me watching my every move.  They do still require me to do things, I still have a to-do list, deadlines to meet and targets to achieve. It is still a proper job.
  2. You need to switch off – with your office just a few steps away it is easy to work longer and later than normal. To find yourself working away at 2pm having not stopped for lunch, or to still be tapping away at 7pm.  You need to step away, take a break from your desk and not let your work take-over
  3. It’s easy to become distracted – The grass needs cutting, you can see it from the office window. If you just popped down stairs you could mow it in 15 mins.  But then you need to take the cuttings to the dump, so you might as well do a bit of weeding while you’re at it.  Before you know it, you’ve spent the afternoon in the garden.  This isn’t an actual scenario that has happened to me as I HATE gardening.  But you get my drift.  Without someone looking over your shoulder and monitoring your comings and goings it can be easy to get distracted.  Let housework, the sofa, the shops or life in general get in the way. This leads to my next point.
  4. Set expectations – While working remotely gives you the flexibility to mow the lawn at lunch or pop to the post office etc, as I said above this could easily take-over your day. I set expectations with myself and my family.  If it can’t be done in an hour at lunch, then it won’t get done. I found initially that there was the assumption that being at home meant I’d magically be able to do all the housework whilst working.  Be realistic and make everyone aware of your working pattern and what you will and won’t be doing.
  5. You get more done – despite saying it’s easy to be distracted I’ve found that I am substantially more productive. While day-time TV might be tempting, it doesn’t walk past my desk with a cup of tea, stop for a chat for 10 mins and then proceed to speak to the person next to me for a further 15.  Nor does it ring me up and ask me a million pointless questions.  It might sound harsh but without people around to ask questions and to chat to, I am able to concentrate so much better and get things done quicker, with less mistakes.
  6. Human interaction is important – my biggest fear when moving from office to home was how I was going to cope with the lack of human interaction. While I haven’t found it as isolating as I thought I would, working like this has made it clear how important it is to get out and talk to people.  The days I don’t work I make sure I leave the house, get out, interact with an adult (and not just my children) – when I am working I try to talk to my colleagues, or rather skype them so you’re seeing and hearing a friendly face.
  7. Flexibility is amazing – I never really thought before about how constraining the traditional working pattern is. That you have to be in and office between certain times to get your work done. As I said I get as much, if not more done at home than I did in an office and I have the flexibility to fit my work around my life.  By removing the lengthy commute into London from my day I can drop my children at school and still be at my desk for 9am, I can see all their school productions, attend sports day etc without having to beg to start late or leave early.  I simply make up the time when back at my desk.
  8. You can listen to what you want on the radio – having always worked in large open plan offices, having the radio on was either cause for a massive debate and eventual disagreement on what station to listen to or just simply not allowed. Being lord and master of my own office space means I get to chose what music I listen to and how loudly I want to play it.
  9. Sometimes you need aircon/heating – in the last office I worked in there was the perpetual debate about temperature and turning the aircon up/down. At home I can make it as hot or as cold as I want.  However, this summer with the extended heatwave I would have loved to have had the option to work in a nice air-conditioned office with fresh cold water on tap!  I have also been known to type in gloves during the winter when I feel bad putting the heating on to warm the whole house when it’s just me sat in the smallest room.
  10. You have a fully stocked kitchen at your service – while this is brilliant it’s also deadly for the waistline. I have instant access to my fridge and all the food in my house. On the plus side this means I can whip up a nice healthy lunch without having to spend a fortune in Pret a Manger – but it also means I can scoff my face with biscuits, chocolate and ice-cream without having to venture far.  I may have to resort to putting a lock on the sweet cupboard!

All in all the move to Chiumento has been the best career move I could have made.  It’s given me the flexibility I craved but with the added-bonus of a challenging role that gets my brain working, gives me the ability to learn new skills and strengthen my experience.  A real win-win situation.

For anyone considering the move to a more flexible working pattern, whether that’s working remotely for some or all of your working week I’d strongly recommend it.

‘What I have learnt in 2 years of remote working…’ was written by Verity Morrish, Marketing Manager, Chiumento Ltd. If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future careers advice and musings on the world of work.

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