As a software developer who worked almost eight years remotely I have a lot of experiences to share. Working from home has a lot of advantages, but it also has a lot of challenges.

In my experience, working from home is very convenient, but is not as easy as it looks.

It Ain’t Easy

Work from home is great when it is very cold or very hot (which is almost all time in Hermosillo). You’ll never have to worry about traffic or time spent commuting. What you are wearing won’t matter, either.

But there are other aspects of your life that you have to care about, for example, your social life, the quality time that you spend with family, the time you spent really working, etc.

Working from home and keeping a balance in your life takes a lot of discipline, more than you probably think.

For the record, you have to bathe even when there’s nobody around to smell you.

What You Need

Here are a few key points,

  • Be very disciplined about your schedule.
  • It is very easy to lose the notion of time when your house is also your office. When I started, I worked easily 10 hours per day and I didn’t realize it until months later.

  • Prepare a special place of your home to use as an office.
  • Find that place in your house that helps you concentrate (e.g., far of the kitchen).

    Think about noises, your front door, even your pets. It will be very easy to distract yourself when there’s no one working by your side.

  • Take care of your body and your mind.
  • Remember to have healthy food around, have fun, and exercise regularly.
    It is easier to eat a lot of junk food and just sit the rest of the day alone in your chair when you are at home. But that’s trouble.

    Exercising will help you handle the stress. Remember that when you work alone no one else can share the pain with you. You have to find an activity that releases that load.

What Remote Work is Not

There are a lot of myths about what remote work is. And most of them are just that, myths. If you want to create good code, or really want to concentrate you can’t do it while you watch Big Bang Theory on TV. Even less so while checking Facebook.

It’s pretty amusing that people think you can be in your pajamas all day or that you can start working right after you wake up. I mean, sure, physically you could do it. But it’s not practical at all.

You can’t work without some form of structure. If you don’t want to lose your mind working alone all the time, you have to be very organized. Create a routine about what you expect to do in the day and how you will accomplish that.

If you have little kids, make sure that you can work somewhere where they don’t see you. Otherwise, you are theirs. So, have a door or something blocking you from their view.

PROs of Working Remote

The good side of working from home is that you can manage your time as you need it. You save a lot of time not driving yourself from one place to another. You can even save a substantial amount of money if you don’t have to spend it on gas or eating out every day.

For me, the coolest part is that you can share more time with your family, specially if you have children of your own (but see above).

Cons of Working Remote

Here I am, working and spending time with my nephew.

Working from home makes you completely responsible for your progress. This feeling might drive you to become intensely focused on your work.

Your social life can be very affected because your networking will be almost zero. I worked with seven people during eight years and I saw them only twice a year. Even if you have a good relationship with your remote team, they won’t feel like close friends. It is very easy to end up being the outsider.

When it comes to your professional life, it is common to feel that you are less essential as the others in the team. You may even feel less appreciated than the people working in the office.

The Future of Remote Work

I have a few friends that still work remotely. In fact, some of them have never worked in person with their team. They work with companies like Google, Facebook, and even at Nearsoft.

So working remote works. It is cheaper and functional. And with a bit of discipline it has many advantages.

Whether it is working at home or anywhere else outside the traditional office, it is very appealing. I expect that more and more people will work remotely in the future.