Working remotely has become increasingly popular over the years. Forbes even commented that “As of 2018, remote work, telecommuting and workplace flexibility have officially become a global industry.”
As you can imagine, this style of living comes with some perks, such as a better work-life balance, no morning commute, the ability to travel (find out if Bali is right for you here) and a flexible workday perfect for raising children. The benefit of remote work also extends to employers too. Companies can now choose the best candidate for the role.
Of course, everything has its downsides and so does remote work. As a result, some remote workers can feel isolated, lonely, and can work until they’re burnt-out. Although this isn’t the case with every company, here at Quuu, we make time for our team – with video chats and more!
Since joining Quuu, and the desirable world of full-time remote work, I did what any millennial would do – I searched the internet for tips on how to succeed as a digital nomad!
Yet, as I read through the endless lists, blogs and advice from across the globe, I couldn’t help but wonder can you really trust these online tips?
I decided the only way to know how feasible these tips were – was to try them out myself. I had an upcoming trip planned, and this seemed like the perfect time to put some of these tips to the test!
The top 5 tips for remote workers
So, off I went on my online pursuit, scouring through articles to identify the most common tips aimed to help remote workers, and this is what I pulled together:
1) You should make sure you have a decent workspace and a clear work-life balance.
2) You should capitalise on your flexible work hours to seek out opportunities.
3) You need to get involved and work in co-working spaces.
4) You should get along to work-related meet-up events – which double up as great social events too.
5) You need to check out industry events.
While these tips give you logical suggestions on what you should do – they don’t tell you what you need to survive as a remote worker.
For instance, your average worker probably needs:
> A decent work environment
> Some form of social contact
> Adequate peer support/team-work
> The ability to maintain a sufficient level of work performance
This is the criteria that I will judge the 5 tips on. Each tip will be scored out of 5 for each of these 4 criteria, and end up with a final score out of 20.
How I tested out 5 tips for remote workers
After trying out 5 of the most common tips for remote workers found on the internet, I can tell you the following…
1) How can a clear workspace/work-life balance help you as a remote worker?
This is probably one of the most common and easiest tips to try out. The advice I followed was simple and included tips like:
- Have a designated workspace in which you only do work in and one that you leave when you finish work.
- Don’t work as soon as you get up or just before bed.
- Try as much as possible to work at an actual desk – yes that’s right, get out of bed!
- Make sure you get dressed and don’t spend the whole day in your PJs.
- Setting and sticking to a work schedule.
This is to make sure you know when it is work time and when you’re off the clock. This separation of work and free time ensures you don’t burnout or get distracted by life admin. Both of these are very common problems you’re likely to face if you work remotely.
For one day, I followed this advice to see how it would affect my work. The night before work, I organised my schedule to prevent procrastination. The next day, I got dressed and ready to start work at my desk for 9 am, and at the end of the day, I tidied everything away.
While some aspects of this tip really helped my productivity, like organising my day the night before. I felt the rigid routine of this advice sucked all the fun out of remote work, as for me, the joy of remote work is having the opportunity to be in charge of my own day-to-day life.
|Work environment||3/5 – I find this style of working space very uninspiring after 4/5 hours.|
|Social||3/5 – The only reason I didn’t give this a lower rating is because of Slack and the ability to talk to my team members there.|
|Peer support / team-work||5/5 – Because, even though this tip was pretty solitary, I could always check-in and find support on Slack with Quuu.|
|Work performance||4/5 – While I found this tip uninspiring, it definitely helped me focus for little bursts at a time.|
I definitely recommend following this tip if you’re struggling to find focus, but I’d also suggest taking this tip with a pinch of salt!
Remote working comes which a bunch of perks which mean you don’t have to sit at a desk from 9 am – 5 pm – you can create a workday that suits you! For instance, I lose focus sitting in the same place all day. I’m most productive getting up earlier than the average human, slowly sipping coffee, followed by a leisurely gym session and then finishing off the day in a coffee shop.
2) If you’re working remotely, can seeking out opportunities help you?
For the second tip, I started to focus on how not being in a traditional office can have a positive impact on your career and can provide you with networking opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to find. For example, while I was in Barcelona, I tested out what opportunities I should be capitalising on following the advice of others!
If you’re a digital nomad – how do you find opportunities?
Before arriving in Barcelona, I investigated the obvious sites such as Facebook, Meetup.com, LinkedIn, and various newsletters for opportunities. I found some exciting opportunities on my search but not as many as I predicted. This shocked me; I honestly thought there’d be more events to get involved with. However, the lack of search results got me thinking, maybe October isn’t the best time for remote workers in Barcelona? So for argument’s sake, I Googled remote worker events in Bali, and as a result, I was able to find more events here.
Working remotely from wherever you are in the world has never been easier thanks to the good old internet!
|Work environment||2/5 – I ended up feeling fairly stressed out looking for opportunities and the lack of them was definitely giving me FOMO.|
|Social||3/5 – Be prepared to spend a lot of time solo searching.|
|Peer support / team-work||3/5 – Again, this was quite a solitary activity so I didn’t feel very connected to my peers.|
|Work performance||3/5 – I felt really distracted from work trying to find activities.|
I guess seeking out opportunities online can be an easy way to get started when you first land somewhere. Although I don’t think the internet is the best place to look. Despite the digital nomad bubble existing online, I think when it comes to finding events, you should go out into your local area more.
This takes us to my next point!
3) Are co-working spaces useful for remote work?
As a self-confessed extrovert, getting out and about is where the fun of this blog begins for me!
Finding an interesting co-working space definitely ranked high on many of the tip lists I researched – including this smashing article from our friends over at Buffer. While looking into co-working spaces, I began to see why the internet raves about them, they’re visually appealing and designed to provide you with a calming and motivating workspace. Plus you never know who you’re going to meet at one!
When it came to narrowing down a co-working space to work in, there was almost too much choice. Yet after a while, I realised the plethora of choice was all for a good reason as different co-working spaces suit different workers’ needs. A lot of co-working spaces in Barcelona require a monthly membership/desk fee, and I only wanted a space I could check-in to for just one workday. As a result, it was easy to whittle down my search.
For this article, I tried a co-working cafe and a co-working space.
1) Co-working Cafe
Firstly, I tired FabCafe to attend a co-work meet up through Meetup.com, unfortunately, I never did find the group, but I did get to enjoy this fabulous space. FabCafe consists of more permanent co-working space at the back of the cafe, and a working cafe at the front. I really enjoyed working here and will definitely go back. During my stay, I wasn’t pressured into buying anything to be there! I was able to have a high-quality Zoom call with my bosses using their Wi-Fi, there were plenty of sockets, and 98% of everyone working there were fellow workers all happily typing away.
2) Co-working Space
Secondly, I came across Satellites by CoCo Coffice a site which allows you to buy daily, weekly or monthly passes to be able to work in super luxurious hotel lobbies. This deal also includes free coffee/tea, Wi-Fi, and 15/20% off the bar all day, so, I thought I’d take advantage of this luxurious workspace.
Unfortunately, I was kind of disappointed by my experience. Although the space was gorgeous and played some great tunes (so I didn’t have to use my headphones), the internet connection was terrible, and it lacked any motivational aura. As I left this space, I realised I probably could have just followed my predecessor Lucia’s advice, bought a coffee, and worked from a hotel lounge for practically free. Or headed to a coffee shop like most freelancers.
Overall, I thought this was a great tip.
Most cities will have a co-working space – so it’s easy to quickly search and begin working! I also really enjoyed my days spent working in various different and interesting places as part of writing this blog. The best part is, I still haven’t discovered most of Barcelona’s or even Europes co-working spaces.
Where’s your favourite co-working space?
|Work environment||5/5 – This obviously depends on where you’ve ended up working, but overall I think a co-working space can be gorgeous and both invigorating and relaxing!|
|Social||3/5 – I think co-working spaces can be social if you spend more time in them. But for this article, I was only there for one workday, so I never got to meet that many people.|
|Peer support / team-work||3/5 – Again, although I didn’t meet anyone, it felt nice working near people.|
|Work performance||5/5 – I found the locations I visited really helped to inspire and motivate me.|
4) Do meet-ups help a remote worker?
“Part of the appeal of working from home is that you have nowhere you have to be – But humans are social animals. For those times you crave social interaction, look to sources like Meetup.com to find like-minded peers.” – The Enterprisers Project.
So with this in mind, I went to the internet in search of the perfect meet-up. Here I found many different types of meet-ups, from the casual to the formal and industry-specific, it seemed to me there was plenty of choice for everyone.
For this tip, I headed to Meetup.com, here, I mostly saw various versions of meet-ups events in co-working spaces; there wasn’t a lot of choice. Nevertheless, I identified which event I thought was best for my working needs and headed along to it. The event I picked was a co-working space meet-up held at Depo Lab in Gracia, Barcelona. As part of this meet-up, I was able to work in their co-working space for free! Even if the event was terrible I’d have somewhere to work for the day, so it was a win-win.
This tip ended up being better than I expected! At first, I was a bit disheartened with the lack of opportunities and social meet-ups, especially given the event I attended was more of a co-working space with people around you. That being said, I’ll admit I really appreciated the environment the meet-up had created. I was able to spend the day working in a great location, and felt should I have needed anything or wanted to reach out I could have. I could see myself coming here regularly if I was to spend more time in Barcelona.
|Work environment||4/5 – As I’ve already mentioned above, I really enjoyed working at this co-working space – feeling both motivated and welcomed.|
Wi-Fi in this place was also amazing.
|Social||3/5 -This event did give me the potential to socialise face-to-face during my workday in a similar way to a traditional office – but better.|
There was plenty of opportunity for water cooler moments in the kitchen, and throughout the day, fellow remote employees would ask if anyone wanted to join them for lunch etc.
However, the day I visited this meet-up, I had a lot on my to-do list, and I really needed/wanted to focus on work – as my Trello was looking rather full.
|Peer support / team-work||3/5 – Again, I can imagine if I was to return to this meet-up, this opportunity could offer a substantial amount of peer support.|
|Work performance||5/5 – In terms of aiding my work performance, the location of this meet-up definitely helped me reach my goals at the end of the day!|
5) Can industry events fill your need for networking if you work remotely?
Although I know industry events are usually synonymous with being boring work-related events your boss sends you too. But for some reason, the’ve always seemed exciting to me. Maybe this excitement was for a good reason, because when it comes to industry events in the remote working sector, apparently they can be a very big deal – just check out Running Remote’s conference!
Whether you’re already a fan of industry events or not, it might be time to reconsider your stance! It can get quite lonely as a remote worker, and events are a great chance to socialise with like-minded peers while being productive.
For this tip, I decided to attend one of Barcelona WomenAmbition’s meetings. I’d read about their group online and I was curious to hear more about what they had to say. I found this group on Meetup.com, but since most of their events included industry style conferences/talks, I decided their events were still relevant for this tip.
Unfortunately for me, the one meeting I could attend was for ‘Happy Hour’ drinks! So after work one evening, I “reluctantly” walked through the Arc De Triomf to Motel One’s lounge bar to meet my peers for the evening.
As someone who has a side hustle in the theatre world, I’m no stranger to having informal business chats over a drink! So, it’s fair to say I really enjoyed trying out this tip, and event hosted by Barcelona WomenAmbition.
During this evening’s perfect post-work activity, I spoke with Meesen Brown, from BeHere, who had this to say about such events:
“Although it can push you out of your comfort zone, it’s a fantastic way to meet interesting people – and often those going through similar experiences. You might meet future lifelong friends or business partners, so put yourself out there, and go connect with people in your new city!”
And while I work in a great team who are always ready via Slack/Zoom to hang out and have a video chat, it was really nice to meet a group of peers face-to-face.
|Work environment||3/5 – Although this tip wasn’t about finding a working space, this event was hosted in a hotel lobby which would be perfect for working in!|
|Social||5/5 – As a remote worker having spent the day alone with me, myself, my thoughts and a laptop – this evening’s event was more than welcomed despite being sleepy post-work.|
|Peer support / team-work||5/5 – I was thrilled to have stumbled upon this event, I got to meet a great bunch of people from different and similar industries. I could see this quickly becoming a go-to network for peer support in the future.|
|Work performance||3/5 – Despite really enjoying this event, I’ll have to admit the perks of this activity to my overall work performance aren’t intrinsically linked.|
Do these 5 tips really work for remote workers?
No. Maybe yes? Of course yes!
Well, to some degree… I think these tips depend entirely on your working style and what you want from your remote working schedule.
For example, I’m organised, productive, and fairly good at project management, so I find the tips for productivity stifle my creativity. On the other hand, despite the stress, I like to experience new things, so I enjoyed the tips which focused on getting out and about.
But this is why remote working is so desirable to me; you get to choose how and where you work best.
I felt a bit overwhelmed during the planning stages of this blog, and spent a lot of time looking for interesting places to work/events to attend. However, this was my first time as a digital nomad – so maybe I was a complete novice and didn’t do anything right?!
Bonus QuuuTips for Remote Workers
During my time writing this article, it became clear these common internet tips do not cover everything you need to know while working remotely.
So I created a shortlist of my own tips.
1 ) Check for political unrest while working remotely
While writing this blog, there was 6 days of protests in the city centre of Barcelona due to political unrest. As a result, I found it very difficult getting to the co-working spaces, meet-ups and industry events I’d originally planned to attend. In hindsight, this is something I should have prepared for! So, if you’ve got a working trip planned soon, I’d make sure you double-check the political situation of the city and country you’re going to.
2) Remote workers abroad should have the best electronics
It goes without saying that you should always make sure you have suitable electronics and adaptors while working outside your home. But, I do have one special tip for the English remote workers out there! Always remember an English plug and European adaptor is (and will always be) a nightmare to try to squeeze between other European plugs.
3) Best practice for remote teams
You can read all the tips you want on how to thrive while working remotely, but the only person who’s going to get you out of bed and at your laptop every day – is yourself!
So, I’d advise trying out tips from others but modifying them to your needs; no worker has the same habits. For instance, Jill may take her 3-hour lunch at 4 pm, while Jack’s just starting work in Bali by the pool. That’s the beauty of a remote job your team members don’t even have to be in the same time zones.
At the end of the day, I really enjoyed exploring the spaces, places and faces I got to see and meet along the way, which I wouldn’t have thought to do without trying these tips!
Articles used for research