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Working effectively while being based overseas

3-minute read

Sebastian Nanek

Sebastian Nanek

12 April 2019

At Simply Business, we embrace the remote working culture.

When talking about remote working, I often hear my friends and colleagues saying that it could never work for them, quoting various reasons. Having spent the last three years working remotely from my hometown in Poland, I am always surprised by this, since I wouldn't trade my arrangement for anything else.

But how do you make your remote working arrangement productive? And how do you make it work for you?

Setup

Let's focus first on making sure your equipment and environment helps your productivity.

  • Get a good headset and microphone - I believe that a headset that doesn't give you headache each time a meeting overruns is essential to make you feel comfortable during conference calls. A good microphone is vital to make sure your colleagues can hear you well. A portable USB condenser microphone is a good option - they are very compact, and record really clear sound regardless of conditions.
  • A comfy chair – essential to make your home working experience pleasant. You'll be spending a bit more time just sitting down in the same position compared to spending time in the office. It's essential that your chair doesn't give you any pain. There are lots of ergonomic or gaming computer chairs, and I'm pretty confident you'll find one that suits you well - perhaps try a few of them at a local furniture retailer.
  • Have an easy to execute backup plan – for when there's no electricity or broadband. Although I live in a town that has quite a good infrastructure, I still need to be prepared for occassional distruptions. They can happen due to severe weather, or even scheduled maintenance work. I use 4G/LTE tethering via my phone as my backup internet, and should there be no electricity at my home, I go to a cafe in a shopping mall in another part of my town.

Everyday practices

  • Have a routine - if you are, like me, not a morning person, try to set up your alarm and wake up a bit before you actually need to. This is to leave you some time so you can get prepared for the day ahead.
  • No pyjamas. Period.
  • Don't spend the entire day sitting down - try to stand up and walk a bit around the home, and do some stretching every now and then - it doesn't have to be structured or strenuous. Or even try some of the five minute workplace relaxation methods. It's essentially to compensate for the time you'd normally spend just walking around the office, attending meetings, having coffee pot conversation, or spending time away from your usual desk.
  • Excel in asynchronous (written) communication - it's your main asset when it comes to influencing your team's work. It's often easier to explain your idea in writing, especially compared to trying to interrupt a heated debate on a video call.

Making most of your time in the office

At Simply Business, we encourage and help our remotes to come to the office on a regular basis - usually it's once every quarter. I personally find these weeks to be the most productive time. Here are some tips how to make most of them:

  • Parties - yes, parties. We organise a lot of them. It's not only a great chance to have some fun, but also for meeting new people. Talk to strangers!
  • Focus on pair programming - it's not only a great opportunity to come up with a better solution, but also a chance to get to know other team members better.
  • Get involved in post-work activities - I love football, so whenever I can, I join the company Monday evening five-a-side football session or any other club or activity (#nomchat, I am looking at you!) to get a chance to spend more time with my colleagues.
  • Be visible - being in the office is also a great chance to conduct a presentation or discuss your ideas in one of our communities of practise. This will give your colleagues extra visibility on what you are working on, which would normally be difficult to get if you are not present in person.

I hope this guide explains how to make remote working pleasant and productive. If you want to try it, don't hesistate to apply.

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