The inspiration for this post is Željko Filipin’s post on the same topic.

Nobody worked remotely during the pandemic, but everybody worked from home.

During the pandemic, office workers had to adjust to working out of their homes. But remote work is different: you’re not working from home, necessarily; you’re working while seperated from a lively, in-person office. You might be in the same city as your co-workers or on the other side of the world.

When you’re physically disconnected from your colleagues, you have to build new skills and adapt your tactics. This is advice I wish I’d had seven years ago when I started working remotely.

Asynchronous communication

Office workers have the luxury of hallway conversations. In an in-person office, getting feedback takes mere minutes. But in a remote work position where you may be on the other side of the planet, communication may take overnight.

To be effective, you need to master asynchronous communication. This means:

Timezones suck

I wish this section was as simple as saying: use UTC for everything, but it’s never that easy. You should definitely give meeting times to people in UTC, but you should tie meetings to a local timezone. The alternative is that your meetings shift by an hour twice a year due to daylight savings.

This all gets more complicated the more countries you have involved.

While the United States ends daylight savings time on the first Sunday in November, many countries in Europe end daylight savings on the last Sunday in October, creating a daylight confusion time.

During daylight confusion time, meetings made by Americans may shift by an hour for Europeans and vice-versa.

I think the only thing to learn from this section is: you’ll mess it up.

Space and Nice tools

Function often follows form. Give yourself a context for capturing thoughts, and thoughts will occur that you don’t yet know you have

– David Allen, Getting Things Done

Working from the kitchen table is unsustainable for your mental health and your back. You need a space that’s primary function is your work, and that space needs to have tools that are a joy to use.

Splurge a bit on tools you’ll use every day: your chair, keyboard, monitor, headphones, webcam, and microphone. These purchases quickly fade into the background of your life. Still, if you ever have to work outside your home office again, you’ll realize how these tools enable your best work.

Buy a nice notebook, and don’t be afraid to absolutely destroy it. I prefer the Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks, but I’m currently trying out the JetPen’s Tomoe River 52 gsm Kanso Noto Notebook. Writing is thinking, and you’ll find your thinking is sharper if you start with pen-and-paper first.

“The beginning of wisdom,” according to a West African proverb, “is to get you a roof.”

– Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

The most important property of your permanent workspace is that it has ample and appropriate light for video calls.

Apart from that, I prefer having a door, but then again, I have a dog and a cat, so your mileage may vary.