Although we have an office in Matlock, Derbyshire, the majority of Humans work remotely. On the whole, you’ll be able to work when you want and where you want. You’ll find that our Humans are often on the move, whether it’s to a conference or event, roadtripping, or travelling around the world.
If you’ve never worked remotely, you may find it a challenge transitioning to the crazy world of pyjamas, coffee shops, and co-working spaces. When you work remotely, it’s easy for your work to lose track of where work ends and the rest of our life begins. Here are ten things you can do to keep you sane when you work remotely:
1. SET UP YOUR OFFICE
Having a defined workspace helps you to switch modes between working and not working. If you work from home, set up a room or a space in a room where you can work. Human Made will cover the costs of setting up your workstation. The company will also cover the cost of a co-working space. If it costs more than £350 per month (or an amount equivalent to this if you work outside the UK) please discuss it with Zoe (you can read more about our expenses policy).
For good health, we recommend that you work at an ergonomic workstation. Should you choose to work away from home, in a coffee shop or library, for example, you should ensure you have the right tools for setting up an ad hoc workstation. These include a laptop stand, mouse, and keyboard.
2. SET A SCHEDULE
Having a schedule is not a requirement of your job, but it may help you to keep some separation between your work and the rest of your life. Many Humans work regular hours, though operate flexibly within that. As you become more embedded in the company you’ll become familiar with who works 9-5 and who has a more erratic schedule. So long as you are available to attend any regular meetings you’re part of, figure out a schedule that works for you. If you are working on client projects, it helps your project manager if you can communicate your normal working hours to them.
3. TURN OFF COMMUNICATION CHANNELS
At Human Made we use Slack for day-to-day communication, if you want to get your head down and focus on getting work done, don’t be afraid to turn it off. Make sure you tell your immediate team members that you are turning off communication and give them contact details so they can contact you in an emergency.
Working online can be just as distracting as working in an office, with messages always coming in from lots of different directions. If you’re struggling to disconnect you may find an app like freedom useful for turning off distractions.
4. GET AWAY FROM THE SCREEN
It’s important that you take screen breaks throughout the day. The UK Health & Safety Executive recommends that you take 5-10 minutes every 60 minutes. It’s a good idea to get up regularly, walk around, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, go outside, play with your dog, have a lunch break, or do something that takes you away from the screen. As a remote worker, it’s very easy to get so absorbed in what you’re doing that it gets to the end of the day and you realise that you haven’t even taken a break for lunch. Avoid this by taking regular breaks. If you keep forgetting, there are lots of apps that will remind you to stand up and get away from your computer.
5. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE
When you work in an office you travel to work, maybe go out for lunch, travel home. There’s quite a lot of variation in where you are throughout the day. As a remote worker, it’s quite possible to spend days or even weeks without leaving the house. Try to get out of the house at least once a day. Going for a walk can be a great opportunity to step away and mull over a difficult problem; a change of location can help shift your perspective. But most importantly, it’s good for your state of mind to get out of the house, even if it is just to go to the shop for a packet of biscuits.
6. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY
It’s important that you take care of yourself and Human Made will support you to get whatever you need to set up an ergonomic workstation that suits you. Our expenses policy covers the cost of a chair, desk, and any other equipment you need. Avoid spending extended periods of time working from your sofa or from a cafe.
This lifehacker article has some useful information on setting up an ergonomic workstation. When you’re out you can improve your posture by putting your laptop on a stand (something like the Roost is lightweight and portable) and using a keyboard and mouse.
7. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PROPER DOWNTIME
Try to make sure that when you’re offline you’re offline. There’s rarely anything so urgent that you need to respond straight away. If there is an emergency, we have your phone number and we know how to use it! At a minimum, turn on Do not Disturb mode on Slack so you don’t get notifications. You might also find it useful to disable push notifications on your phone for Slack and your email, and any other work tools that interrupt your downtime.
8. TAKE PROPER HOLIDAYS
You have 35 days holiday per year. Ideally you should spread these days across the year so you are able to rest and recuperate. We recommend you spread this out evenly across the quarters in the year.
9. ASK FOR HELP IF YOU NEED IT
Because our primary mode of communication is text, it can sometimes be hard to tell if someone is struggling or that they need some help. While members of the team will reach out if you’re having a hard time, we might not always notice. If you’re having problems in your job, or difficulties at home that are affecting your work, the Human Made team will do their best to support you. Always feel free to reach out to whoever you are most comfortable with, or bring it up in a 1-1. If you’re not sure who to ask, you can try the Help! page which will direct you who to go to with different problems.
10. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IN-PERSON MEETUPS
You will have opportunities throughout the year to meet up with your colleagues. We have one all-company retreat per year, but on top of that we encourage you to attend conferences and go to meetups. If there are other humans at the event, it is a perfect opportunity for you to get to know each other in-person. While we thrive as a company online, nothing can replace person-to-person interaction. You’ll find that getting to know your colleagues offline will enrich your interactions online.