As a company, especially a digital one, we try as much as possible to embrace technology in all aspects of our being. Over the years, we have grown and so has the team. In order to embrace the very culture we started with, most of us work remotely. In this day and age, there are so many tools that have been developed to enable a team or even an individual to work efficiently remotely. Meetings can be done and set via Skype or TeamViewer, codes done through version control tools such as BitBucket and Github, progress tracked through platforms like Trello and Todoist. In fact, we scarcely meet our clients.
Our purpose with this aside from the obvious one of minimizing costs of running an office (as a start-up, it is crucial to minimize your expenditure as much as possible), we have adopted such kind of a working environment to allow each member of the team freedom. Isn’t that what most of us what in the long run? Each member can set up flex-times and work according to their own schedule, the most important thing being the ability to deliver quality projects on time.Having said that, working remotely aside from the perks has come with its lows. And that is the intent of this particular post. To share the experience we have had working remotely, the challenges and the upsides.
The one thing that remote working requires is DISCIPLINE. There has to be a balance between your work and your personal life, something I have come to realize all too late. Personal life is as important as one’s career. It also requires as much effort. The older you get, the less time you start realizing you have. The more you start valuing relationships and the more it strikes you that it takes effort and time to create meaningful connections. If unchecked, remote working can turn one into a workaholic. Often you will hear that as a starting entrepreneur, you need to work harder and more than your competition. And to some extend, this is true. Effort needs to be placed in growing a company and getting to a mastery level. However, the tricky balance comes with making time to LIVE, to enjoy the little pleasures of life and enjoy them with the people you love. Otherwise, what’s the whole point of branching out as an entrepreneur if you don’t get to live life in your own terms? It has certainly been difficult for us to find that balance, and we are constantly remodeling our arrangement. It’s a learning process, and we are confident we will get there.
Being busy does not equal being productivity is yet another lesson we have picked up working remotely. Simply because a coder spends a lot more hours on the computer does not mean he is doing more. Yes, coding does require a lot of time, especially during testing and debugging. Bugs have no mercy at all, and there is absolutely no guarantee that which worked last night will work in the morning. I know, it has happened in more than one occasion. However, a productive developer should be able to complete the task they had set out for themselves within the time frame they had stipulated. This might not be the case every one in a while, but it should be the case most of the time.
Apart from just writing codes and developing, there is the aspect of creativity. Like I said earlier, if unchecked working remotely might lead one to become a workaholic. And this has a lot of ripple effects: you cut out time to learn new skills, spend time with your family among others. In line with working, it reduces your productivity and hampers your creativity. As web designers (take note I did not say developers), we are constantly required by clients to create digital experiences that are unique. And creativity requires a calm mind, something that is very cumbersome to attain when one feels they are overworking. It gets to a point where you can’t really think and you require the client to say specifically what it is they want. I am currently somewhat here right now.
Change is good, and to change often is perfection. Given the current day and age we live in, there is need for businesses and companies to adopt new ways of working, and leverage technology in what they do. That is inclusive of setting up the option of remote working. However, we have come to learn that for this to succeed, there is the need for immense discipline both from the companies and the developers. Co-ordination and limits need to be set up, to allow the developer or designer to be both productive as well as creative and for the company to get its projects delivered in time with emphasis on quality.
We cannot lie to have the answer. In fact, I think very few individuals or companies do. But we are constantly changing our strategies to allow us to be as effective as possible. There will always be something to do. There is no shortage of that. But moments with our loved ones are fleeting, and one cannot take back time. So I hope this reaches everyone who works remotely (or even just those who overwork), relax a bit. Life is a journey, a marathon. Sprinting does not help in any way.