I’ve Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

After working office jobs that required long commutes and stringent 9-to-5 work schedules, I decided it wasn’t how I wanted to spend the next 50 years of my life. I love office camaraderie as much as anyone, but an over one-hour commute before and after a more than eight-hour workday leaves little time for fun. So, I joined the remote work world in 2015 — transitioning from freelancing to a full-time work-from-home job and back again.

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

The Flexibility of Remote Work

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

While there are definite differences between freelancing and a full-time remote job, they both offer MUCH more flexibility than a traditional office job. But I would be lying if I said working remotely was always easy. Here’s what I wish I knew in the beginning:

1. Altering Your Working Hours

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Don’t be afraid to ask if you can alter your working hours to make time for things that are important to you. This depends on your boss and company, but chances are, if you consistently show up, put in your time, and get your work done, they’ll be flexible with you.

2. Using PTO for Travel Days

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

You don’t have to use PTO for things like travel days — or even certain vacation days. Figuring this out was huge. With remote work, you can book your flights so they’re easily outside working hours OR ask your boss if you can clock in early (or work late) to make up for time you’ll need to get through check-in and security.

3. Long-Term Travel

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Long-term travel is easier to pull off than a weekend away, and you can do it without using much PTO. This takes some serious pre-planning, but it’s possible. I spent a full month living in Paris and later a month in Jordan while working for a company full time. I just had to adjust my working hours to match Eastern Standard Time.

4. Your Lunch Break

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Your lunch break can be whatever you want it to be. You can get in a workout, do the laundry, go on a hike, or even spend the time making yourself a decadent work-from-home lunch. No matter how you choose to spend it, it’ll beat sitting in the office cafeteria eating a turkey sandwich.

5. Communication is Key

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Anytime you want to travel and switch up your schedule, you have to communicate with your boss. There is a lot of flexibility to be had in remote work, but you can’t just drop off in the middle of the day because you want to take a yoga class.

6. Exploring Work Locations

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Just because you work from home, that doesn’t mean you have to literally work from home. Working a half day or two from a coffee shop, drop-in coworking space, or even a mellow restaurant or hotel lobby can do wonders for your mental health.

7. The Benefits of “Work Dates”

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Meeting up with other remote workers on “work dates” can do wonders for your mental health. It’s like having an office mate who you actually really like, and it helps us both get out of the house.

8. The Importance of Backup Internet

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Backup internet is the secret to life when you work remotely. Wi-Fi is your lifeblood. Any time I travel, I get straight-up anxiety over the quality of the internet, where I’m going to work, and what is going to happen when — God forbid — my internet cuts out in the middle of a call.

9. Staying Connected On the Go

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Download work apps on your phone so you can check in on the go. This one is tough. On one hand, downloading apps for work allows you to stay connected when you have to run to the store in the middle of the day (win), but it also means you’ll get notified if someone messages you after hours (loss).

10. Creating a Separate Workspace at Home

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Creating a separate work space in your home is key, no matter how small it has to be. It’s crucial to find a space that’s dedicated to work. If you’re in a tiny studio or one-bedroom apartment, research tiny-space-friendly desks that can tuck into the corner.

11. Investing in a Good Setup

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Springing for a computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse is sooo worth it. It cost me a few hundred dollars, but I can’t tell you how much better my body feels, AND I am a million times more productive.

12. Investing in a Good Office Chair or Standing-Desk Setup

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Investing in a good office chair or standing-desk setup is crucial. If you think that you’ll be spending eight-plus hours a day sitting in this chair, it makes the cost (and research into what works for you) well worth it.

13. The Importance of Getting Dressed

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Getting dressed makes a huge difference. Even if I have no calls and no one will see me all day, I’ve made a habit of at least washing my face and getting dressed.

14. Setting Boundaries Between Work and Personal Life

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Set boundaries between your work and personal life, and keep them sacred. There is always more work to do, but if you’re honest with yourself, it can wait until tomorrow.

15. Communicating Your Work Schedule to Family and Friends

I've Been Working Remotely Since 2015 — Here Are 15 Things I Wish I Knew In The Beginning

Finally, be clear with family and friends who live close by that yes, you have a real job, and no, they can’t swing by to chat in the middle of the day. Treat your remote workday as you would an office workday. Click the link to know more