This month, I had the privilege of working remotely—in fact, from an entirely different state: Colorado. Effective remote workers know it’s less about your location, and it’s more about working where we work best.
Here I give a glimpse of what it was like to be able to work from Colorado, including some of my top tips for others who may also want to work from anywhere.
The typical flights from Cincinnati to Denver vary, but this time I was lucky enough to be able to get an evening fight. This time, I was able to pick this time slot, in part, because it allowed me to still get in almost a full working day. That means I was able to get to Colorado without much interruption to the normal business day. In fact, right before I left for the airport I was even able to have a phone call meeting—so my travel day was still productive.
Before traveling, I went online to see if my flight was going to have Wi-Fi. This is easier than buying Wi-Fi on the plane because you don’t have to get out your credit card and you can also typically save money if you purchase before the flight. This flight was not going to offer Wi-Fi, so I knew I needed to do a bit of preparation so that I could stay busy on the plane without access to the Internet.
My personal preference is to take advantage of travel time to consume and catch-up on content I’ve been wanting to get to. The day before my flight, I made sure I had everything I would want for the next day. I do this the day before because you don’t want to run out of time the day-of travel, which can easily happen.
This time I brought a book along called Tree-Ring Management by Hiroshi Tsukakoshi, a book that was recommended to the Edoc team by a friend at the Small Giants Summit just a month prior. It’s actually a Japanese book that’s been translated to English. Here was an excerpt I highlighted during the flight that seemed fitting, given the trip I was on as a remote worker:
“If you manage from the perspective that people are inherently good, you can lower costs considerably. Eliminating the need to keep constant watch over every little thing your employees do drastically lowers the cost of running [some aspects of the business].”
I also downloaded 3 podcasts beforehand. (Download them before you get on the plane since you won’t have the ability to once you are in the air.) Those podcasts are for listening on the way to the airport, at the airport, and then on the plane, if-needed. I downloaded a podcast called Freakonomics (a show that looks at the “hidden side of everything”) and then two Tim Ferris podcast episodes.
The first episode was on maximizing creative output and the other was on Seth Godin’s rules, principles and habits. In the past, I’ve stayed preoccupied on flights by typing out responses to emails (and then sending them later when I have access to the Internet). I’ve also taken advantage of my Audible subscription as well as the free audiobooks you can get from the library.
The flight went by fast. I’d like to think it was at least partially because I was enjoying the time! We ended up landing early, and thanks to my Mophie iPhone case, I had full battery life. I gave my ride a call, and I was off to see my family.
This might seem like an obvious best practice tip to follow, but it can be overlooked when you travel, or just for someone who is new to working remotely. First, be sure that you are going to have safe, secure and stable access to the Internet. If not, you might want to consider getting your own personal hotspot on your phone, at the very minimum. Depending where you are in the world, you might not be able to take advantage of a hotspot, so it’s worth researching ahead of time—not just one or two days prior, ideally. Also keep in mind that information shared via hotspot is still not encrypted and may or may not be secure.
If you are going to rely on cafes or coffee shops to work, or even the Internet provided by your hotel, keep in mind the Internet will in fact put your data at risk since you are on the same network as others. If for some reason you have to connect to the Internet this way, at least be sure to turn off any shared settings.
Besides giving consideration to Internet access, I also make sure I had a dedicated space to work at while in Colorado. For me, that helps to signal to family members that I’m working. I want to be sure I have an area that can be quiet if I need it to be, and also a place where people will respect that you are busy working.
While in Colorado, I have my own desk and workstation that mimics my normal desk setup. I strongly encourage you not just to bring your lap top when you travel and work—unless that is all you really normally have when working. For me, I have a lap top stand so that I can do my best to maintain good posture. Even if you are only gone for a week, you want to signal to your body that it’s time to work, so bring what you need in order for that to happen! I’ve also been able to travel with my external keyboard, as well, for example.
Aim to bring or to purchase what you need so you can maintain good posture, be effective, efficient, and also comfortable. You want your work environment to be conducive to meaningful productivity. Some people who travel frequently also say that maintaining their normal morning routine, no matter their location, also helps them stay as productive as possible.
We do our best to be proactive about communication, and this was no different on my trip out West. I logged in and used our chat room, Campfire, just like a “normal” work week. Because I worked to be mindful of my colleagues’ time zone, an outside would not have been able to have known the difference if comparing my communication and accessibility to another week of work.
I also stayed in touch with the team through Zoom (our video chat of choice), lots of text messages, and of course, phone calls. Because we can reach each other so quickly through our chat room, Zoom, or simply through text, we still have a tightly knit company culture. I did use email with people outside the Edoc team, too.
When it comes to managing the difference in time zones, I stayed on Cincinnati time/Eastern time for the most part. I didn’t change over my computer, Apple Watch, or calendar time zone, for example. It’s almost easier than ever to be aware of multiple time zones; you could just as easily get a world clock or look at your phone’s multiple time zone settings. This was just to make sure I was accessible the majority of the time when my colleagues (and customers and partners) were working, and to ensure when setting up meetings for the week I could quickly do so in the right time zone.
As said before, one of the best things about remote work is that you can manage your own energy every day. We think of it as “owning” your own time.
The flexibility and trust I’m afforded allows me to spend more high quality time with my family, something I don’t have to defer until later. Who wouldn’t want to work this way?
This trip in particular included a trip to a lake, going up in into the mountains (twice!), experiencing the local food, cooking, going on multiple hikes, and spending time I’ll never forget with my Grandma, nephew, parents, sister and brother in law. I made sure to plan some of the major activities (such as hiking and visiting my Grandma) before the week started so that I could be sure to make time for those events.
It’s really no different than how you approach and prioritize other important meetings or activities (the gym, volunteering, business events to go to, etc.) that you do not want to neglect. Once they are on the calendar, then you can work around what you have planned.
I once read that working remotely is a privilege. I agree with that statement, and if you have the ability to work from anywhere, consider these tips so that you can prove to your team just how productive you can be, no matter where you are.
Do you have any tips for working remotely? Let us know.
READ MORE: “The Virtual Culture Part III”
Kim Sykes is a marketer and content creator at Edoc Service Inc.