I chose to go remote professionally about an year back. There have been those who doubted my decisions, those who supported it through and through. But here’s why I think this ‘unemployment’ is suiting me and why I am going to remain so for a few more years.
Well, to be honest, it has been slightly more than an year since I was employed full time with a startup – yes, a fast growing company. And no, I don’t regret not seeking another 9 to 5 or a crazy 9 to 9.
First things first, there are those who’d say they absolutely love the routine such jobs bring them. Then there would also be those who would think I am probably crazy to have wasted my degree, work experience and all the grand ‘feedbacks’ I received through my career so far. To all of them, to each his own.
Coming back to where I left off..an year ago after an overwhelming experience at my job, I decided to make a few changes in my life. Why? The daily grind that went in vain.
I moved cities for this exciting new job. I rented a beautiful flat, with a beautiful view. I fitted it out completely to suit my preferences and give it the homely touch. I even decided to start cooking on my own (which those who know me, know I hate). I decided to clean up my place ‘daily’ because maids seemed too intrusive.
I would get up, drag myself out of bed, get ready and head to office. Not that it was too far away from my place, it did take me about 10 minutes to get there. You could blame my speed for it!
I’d reach office sharp at 9, be the first one to enter it (read – even open the shutters), dump my bag, make myself some coffee and wait for a friend to get me some breakfast. Yes, I am punctual and unhealthy at the same time. I even gave reading the newspaper and chatting up with my family right in the morning a shot. It worked perfectly. I got used to it. I almost started loving it.
I worked 9 to 5. Then I worked 9 to 9. That was followed up by coming home to clean and cook..and SLEEP.
Managing a home and a demanding career, I never realised when I’d become a part of the ‘work vs life’ game. Sounds familiar? Of course!
So after the last job, I packed my bags and headed home. Not that I did not have job offers in my bag before leaving, I just didn’t feel like it was the right time to take anything up. I smiled, thanked and apologised for not taking up the ‘exciting opportunity’ that a lot many companies offered me. I just wanted to come home and find myself again.
I am still learning. Learning how things work in life, love and of course, the business world. I have been a perpetual ‘lost and found’ case all my 23 years of life. But then again, I was always ‘found’ better than I was ‘lost’. So I decided to give it a shot again.
There were many who told me it was a stupid move. There were those who told me I’m probably just demotivated. Oh and there were also those who told me I was in the wrong field and probably needed more grooming before starting work again.
Well, thank you for the wonderful feedback. But, sorry, not sorry about how I function. I’ll make myself better though. Better at dealing with all those suggestions. Yes. Decided. Home it is.
Not even a week of sitting at home and listening to suggestions, I found my calling. Remote working. Of course, the field was going to remain the same!
There are people who have given remote working a bad rep. A lot of companies think having a person sitting full time in a uptight chair is the only way to ensure he remains productive and in constant touch with the other team members. But I never really understood why they made such a big deal out of it!
I mean, when you’re vacationing and your boss mails you..you do use your phone to reply to him in seconds right! And when a Skype call gets scheduled in a different timezone, you do often take it while sitting in bed at home. Does it affect the way you function professionally? No.
I gave myself a few more explanations and decided to take the leap of faith. I freed myself from the shackles of office working, uptight chairs, irrelevant communication and commuting. I decided to give remote working the chance it ‘obviously’ deserved. But there was a challenge – who on earth am I going to work with when most of them think remote working is just a sham?
Finding the right project (people)
I connected with a lot of people on LinkedIn in the 3 years of work experience I had. And thanks to the first ever remote job I took up, I did get to meet a lot of new people – virtually. As a matter of fact, I am on first name basis with a modest number of influencers in my field. I have interviewed them, asked for their opinions on things I didn’t understand and even sent them songs on Skype!
But were any one of them going to give me a promising project?
I got a lot of ‘ghost writing’ projects initially – which I royally declined with a ‘thank you’ followed by a fullstop. I also got a few peanut paying projects, to whom I showed the door. There was just one thing that I had in my head – if I am going to spend about 8 hours working for someone, they need to pay me well. Even if it is working remotely!
But the excitement of declining projects ended in less than a week. I come from a writing and marketing background. I have slogged through my after college years to make myself visible. It had to show somewhere. Right? (Well, this confidence wasn’t there back then. It took me a month to realise this.)
And ba-dam-tiss! Came the first project. Then the second. Then the third. Then the fouth..fifth..sixth..and damn! I didn’t even come to know when on earth I had so much work that there was barely any time to breathe!
But..I LOVED IT. I STILL DO. EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF IT.
Starting off..full swing!
Yes, it takes a while to make the switch in schedules from a fulltime to a remote working job. It takes absolute will power to convince yourself to at least get up on time, open the laptop and start working.
And once you do get used to it, you realise there’s another challenge you need to overcome. Dragging yourself off the bed, carpet, table or wherever you work from so that you don’t become the next hippo at the zoo nearby. Tch!
After struggling to make a routine out of my life for about 2 weeks, here’s what it took me to map out my career successfully:
- Making daily to-do lists and sticking to them.
- Using all those social media and digital management tools I often just recommended to people.
- Connecting with the right people.
- Getting on a ‘real conversation’ with those people.
- Equipping myself with everything I needed (gadgets galore).
- Remembering, I am no super human. (I am still working on this one!)
But after an year of working like crazy, forming a team that actually helped me startup – yes, we have a content marketing agency for startups and small businesses. It is called Contensify. We have been running it quietly for an year. We have marketed and continue to market some of the most promising startups. We have a crappy website as of now, but you can check it out here – we’re working on an overhauling. But we haven’t found the time. Yet.
Apart from my own startup, I work full time – remotely for a really cool venture with a person I happened to connect on LinkedIn. Yes, I am a Content Marketer at Exit Bee. My 9 to 6 schedule and sometimes, late night calls, are dedicated to them! They are a wonderful team that has only helped me grow. It has almost been half an year of working via Slack, Google Hangouts, Skype, Drive, Teamwork and so much more!
You can view my oh-so-exciting profile and work here, because I absolutely need to share with you the 5 things I learned from working remotely.
Awesome things that happen when you work remotely!
Like I said, to each his own. But here are the 5 awesome things that I learnt about myself and the professional world at the same time – of course, after working like this for an year.
1. I had a lot more energy than a crazy monkey!
Remote working give you the flexibility to define your own schedule. And the schedule doesn’t need to include even a 10 minutes walk to the office or opening the shutters or for that matter, skipping your meal because you have a list of things that you need to achieve ‘after reaching office’.
I instantly found myself to be a lot more productive in the same amount of hours that I used to spend in an office space achieving not even half my list now. Yes, that big a difference!
I am even able to fit in occasional workouts in the work week, some well deserved sleep and outings, and socialising with my friends that I almost forgot about an year back. Working remotely actually gives you the opportunity to balance your personal and professional life. (Again, I am still learning this.)
But remember, YOU DO NEED A TO-DO LIST.
Here’s an amazing printable to-do list from Loving Here that you could use too!
2. There is absolutely no distraction around!
Except my cute little dog who loves to check on me from time to time and gets to hear the irritating ‘oooooo baby do you want bikis?’ I call him my colleague. Not a distraction really.
Working in an office full of likeminded people is definitely fun. But what I have realised after doing so, is that it can be pretty distracting too. You either end up joining irrelevant conversations because you happen to be there or picking up your laptop and moving to a corner to find some solitude to peacefully work in.
People flying drones, remote control cars running across the floor, someone skateboarding from one corner to the other and then another person who’s playing loud music than your eardrums can really handle. This isn’t to say I didn’t love it. I did enjoy every bit of it, but what I enjoy more is working independently without being afraid of a paper missile hitting me.
Working remotely has actually given me the choice to decide when I want to communicate with a colleague and when I want to ‘get shit done’.
3. Working across timezones is actually possible!
When I started off, I thought people who get to work at the same time as me are the ones I’ll be able to align my work with comfortably. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
Working remotely actually shows you how capable the human body is to adapt to different timezones without having to move countries. Or better, how the human brain is able to determine what needs to be done in a day to accommodate work from across the world. Now a 12 hours time difference can be hard to cope up with, unless you turn your day upside down. So I decided to determine how much time I could allocate to work, and which of the timezones was it most favourable for.
I currently handle till upto 6-7 hours of time difference. And when required, 12 hours too!
4. SLACK becomes your new hangout cafe (Skype too!)
I have been using Slack ever since I started working for startups. The seamless communication without having to turn in my chair and holler at someone for something, always appealed to me. But it was after starting to work remotely, that I realised its full potential.
Slack lets me connect with my team members any time of the day. Whether it is a quick note about what needs to be done in the coming days or asking for help with something, the platform is an absolutely blessing!
I drop all files that I need to on Slack – be it on our very defined channels or personal chats. Or for that matter, slackbot. I often exchange a few messages with him as well. It’s like a silent operator for our team that is working on plans to take over the world.
But I also use Skype! All my client meetings, customer calls and potential project discussions are often over Skype. Yes, the good ol’ software still does let you seamlessly connect with people across the world!
5. You tap into your undiscovered genius!
Now the thing about remote working is, you have defined roles. And anything beyond that, you get paid for. Let’s get real here for a minute, isn’t that what you wish for sitting behind the office desk every time you’re asked to go out of your way to complete something someone else was supposed to do?
I, personally, learnt how to value my time, work and skills. I actually tapped into my undiscovered genius (I am not Einstein, but I am decent enough to talk about how and why it rains).
I do a whole lot of things in a day. I am learning new things every day. I am becoming a better professional every day. Yes, I am doing SOMETHING EVERY DAY.
Now I am not really sure how you’d wish this post to wrap up. Maybe with a few tips and tricks to land the right project. Maybe with how to place a value on your time and work. Or maybe simply where to begin.
But here’s something I stumbled upon and think you should see too:
Now, since that would turn into an ebook of at least 50 pages, here’s something I suggest instead: Shout out to me on Twitter @VanhishikhaB with absolutely anything that comes to your head after reading this post.
If I don’t reply, you could drop me another stinky tweet if you like. Otherwise, I love having conversations with likeminded people. I promise to not let you down! 🙂