Last september had a pretty big change to how I work. I moved to Oppdal, but I kept my job in Tønsberg. Tønsberg is a 7hour train ride away and there is not too many trains that are conveinent for that travel, a couple of trains a day. There are more trains, but then you'll be looking at 12+hours 😅 What I'm trying to say is: I'm pretty remote for the main office.
I've written about the life of a remote worker earlier (from my perspective), and I would like to revisit the topic since more time has passed ⏳. And not much have changed. The perks are still perks, and still I don't have a lot of negatives coming directly from working remote. But what I want to write about today is not really how life is for a remote developer, but more about what impression others might get of you.
From time to time, when I get introduced to new people the question comes up pretty quickly: "So what do you do?", my imidiate reply is: "Oh! I'm a app developer" that usualy gets a quick followup question "Cool! Where are you working?" and the answer is "I work for a company in Tønsberg, but I have an office here 😊". The polite work converstaion usually ends there, but I feel like I can see the questions build up in the other person: "How does that work?", "How can you get stuff done by your self?", "He got no supervision?".
I bet most of those questions comes from my own imagination 💭, and I think those questions rise in my head because I don't know any other remote developers. I know about people having their own businesses, but that feels like something else. They travel out to a location to solve a problem for a customer. I think my toughts come from what I understand is norwegian working culture: "You need a manager that can see what you do".
But do you? Should't eveything come down to what you manage to deliver? Do you get your task done? Are you reachable for collabrative work? I think it should. I know with myself that I deliver at work. I hack away at my tasks, I come up with different solutions, test them and then does final implementation of them. And my manager is happy with the work I do. So why can't this be more normal in Norway?
I think it comes down to a couple of points. I think some managers are afraid of a few myths. A common belife (to my knowledge) is that remote workers want's to "work from the beach" or another equalent of that. In my position, the answer is no. I want to work from a controlled enviroment, and I want to be as effective at work as possible. I'm most effective from an office, that I can go to every morning, sit down and do my work. I want to work remote, so that I can work on projects I'm passioinate about for a company with a vision I can stand by. But I want to live close to mountains and nature. Developer jobs in Norway seems to be in bigger cities, where what I want from a place to live don't match up. By working remote, I can get both; A job I'm passionate about, and really want to do my best at. And when I'm off work I can go skiing (cross-country) ⛷, snowboarding 🏂, fishing 🎣, hiking 🥾, golfing 🏌️♂️.
By being able to do that, I belive I can be more effective at work, because I feel happy about my life outside of work. When I lived in a city, I was not able to be as much outside as I'm now. My city life was pretty much: Work -> Workout (This might include golf or discgolf) -> Netflix (or something like it) -> Sleep. Although I could go golfing or discgolfing (both are hobbies I'm pretty passionate about) I could only do around 6 months. The rest of the year would be pretty misserable. Now I'm able to utilize the whole year much better, doing what I love for each season of the year. Resulting in improved life quality.
Another myth I think a lot of managers out there think; "I need my team close so I can quickly summon them". Now we use tool like Skype, Teams, Slack ect. Do you really need them to be inside the same room? Is is not an option of message them or call them is something urgent comes up? I mean, I sit at my computer for 8h. As a remote worker I work full working days. And I work during core business hours. The company I work at have set a range of hours that they classify as "Core business hours". During that time I'm reachable if my slack status don't say otherwise ("In a meeting"). If you send an email, I'll see it, if you message me, I'll see that too. If you call I'll pick it up expecting something urgent. If you have a remote worker in your timezone, just establish something like core hours if you feel like you need it. In other timezones that might be difficult, but you can work something out.
The last myth I'm going to write about is: "If workers work from home, they'll be distracted by chores at home". I feel this is more of a self reflection question. Do you feel like that when you work from home? I bet your remote worker want to do their job, and will not do chores at home instead. Or if they start a dishwasher, that should not take to much time. How much time to workers in an normal office situation spend at the wateringhole (coffeemachine)? My manager was not afraid about this with me. But we did include 1on1 conversations that we have every 14 days. They are unformal and we chitchat and talk some about what I'm doing and what I've done since last time. 👀 During these conversations we can talk about stuff like that, if my manager feels like I'm slacking of, or if I feel like I don't have enough to do 😊 Only the latter have happend, I did run out of bugs, and my mind was empty for new ideas to try. We could quickly resolve this, by notifing the product manager that could pull something new out of their backlog.
Also I'm not working from home. I have an office outside of the house. You should help your remote employee to get the same 😁 That way they get away from their home. And it really helps the work life balance. When I leave my office I'm done for the day (usually), and when I get into the office I'm at work. If a office outside of the home is impossible, you as a worker should create your own office. And work should only stay in that office. This will help you achive the same from your home ✌️
So to conclude this post. I wish that remote working will be more normal going forward. There are a lot of benefits for both parts of that deal. For the company; they get a happy worker that is strongly motivated to deliver good work because they want to stay in their current work/life situation. For the worker, you can work at a company you want to work for, and also live a life you want to live, where you want to live it 🎉 But not take my word for it, you can read what Microsoft thinks about it too