The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2015, more than 23% of the American working population were working remotely, up from 19% in 2003. So as a remote worker, it’ll only make sense to focus on results, not just on your activities.
PGi, the software service provider, also conducted a global survey in which 60% of people who work remotely part-time said if they could, they would happily leave their current job for a full-time remote position.
So, if you’re a remote developer, you’re certainly not on the wrong path.
But hey, how do you work from home successfully? How do you ensure that you do your job effectively even though you won’t be leaving your bedroom?
While it may feel good to break the ice and come out with your own “new” ways of successfully working from home, it’s always better not to waste time reinventing the wheel.
A more productive way to make use of your time is to study to discover what the most successful authorities in your industry do in common.
Though their job descriptions may differ, all successful remote workers have certain habits in common— habits that stand them out from the pack and make them more successful than other at-home workers.
And since our mission here at X-Team is to help remote developers grow and achieve their goals, I’ll be sharing with you these habits.
So, on the whole, the question is: What habits do the most successful remote workers have in common?
Let’s get going with this:
1. They stay professional
Everyone who’s worth their salt and expects great things (like top rates) in their career, understands the importance of professionalism.
I mean, how do you get paid professional rates when you’re nothing close to being professional yourself?
Serious in-office workers maintain an appreciable level of professionalism — they dress like it, talk like it, and most importantly, work like it.
And if you hope to compete favorably, you would have to stay professional, too.
Just for a moment, think like a client:
If you were to hire a developer, would you hire someone who misses deadlines, forgets to reply your email (and later tells you it went to the spam folder), and refuses to follow the project brief?
Of course not.
In the same vein, you shouldn’t be displaying such unprofessional aurae, if you want to get ahead.
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean your kids should be chewing on the background while you’re on the phone. Or, that you should be putting on BVDs in front of your computer while on a Skype video call.
While dressing properly for meetings and online sessions is important, also understand that professionalism is more than just the way you dress. It has much to do with your sense of responsibility, work ethics, integrity, competence, quality of delivery, respect and your overall characteristics as a professional.
So, be excellent and set yourself up for greatness.
2. They communicate effectively
When it comes to remote working, communication is key.
Since you’re not physically in the same office with those you work together with, the only way to stay on the same page is through effective communication.
Communicating effectively helps you:
- Maintain a better professional image
- Make better decisions
- Create strong business relationships
- And solve problems faster.
And successful remote workers understand this.
As a WAH (or work-at-home) developer, you have to keep your clients and co-workers updated on your progress.
Per contra, communication here has to be a two-way thing, which means apart from you communicating effectively with those you work with, you also have to demand the same level of communication, or at least, for helpful feedback from them.
So, make it a habit to keep your clients and co-workers in the know.
Encourage them to point out those things you can improve upon in your work given your remote situation.
That way, you’d be able to do your job well.
3. They are highly self-motivated
Self-motivation is a must for every remote worker. Without it, it’ll be difficult to complete tasks, meet deadlines and even enjoy doing what you do.
But, what exactly is self-motivation?
It’s an inner force; a force that drives a person to do what needs to be done, when it should be done. It’s the ability to get yourself to do something, without any influence from another person.
With the understanding that there’s nobody to give them a prod, successful remote workers learn to develop the habit of staying self-motivated. And you should, too.
4. They think and work like managers
Successful remote workers understand that working remotely entails working at home, without the supervision of any manager.
They also understand that for them to do their job successfully well, they not only have to become their own immediate supervisor, but actually have to think and work like managers, not employees.
And if you want to succeed too, you’d need to do the same.
How do managers think and work?
First off, they take charge of their work. They crack the whip and ride herd on to meet their goals and get results. They learn to mobilize resources to achieve their objectives.
Equally, managers take care of the administrative part.
Say for instance, after you’ve become a remote developer, you shouldn’t stop only at doing the work of a developer per se, but should also be able to manage the other aspects of your day-to-day business activities.
What’s more, you have to be able to manage workflows and contribute meaningfully to business processes as they come.
Employees wait to be told what to do. Managers think strategically about what needs to be done, and then they take action.
5. They plan their schedule
You already heard that failing to plan is not too different from planning to fail, right?
That’s true, even for people working remotely.
Successful remote workers have been applying this, hence the reason for their success. They plan their schedule ahead, and not work on just anything they see.
Moreover, they do this consistently, which passes for a habit.
Planning your schedule helps you:
- Manage your time effectively
- Organize your day’s activities for the best possible result; and
- Work on the right projects at the right time.
This gives you the opportunity to prioritize the most important tasks, make the best use of your resources and meet your goals fast.
This is even more important for freelance developers working with more than one client.
You can set a regular time to do your scheduling, for example, at the beginning of every week.
Also, consider using the available tools to make your scheduling even more productive.
And talking about tools, that’s our next point— successful remote workers are great with tools.
6. They make the best use of tools
Tools are important for working remotely. They are the channel through which you can connect, communicate and work with people anywhere in the world, right from your home.
Without tools, it’ll be nearly impossible to work remotely.
Highly productive remote workers have learned this. So, not only are they experts at using these tools, they really do have them at their disposal.
But beyond the basics, tools have other advantages too. For instance, a study found that 87% of remote workers feel more connected through the use of video conferencing versus meeting in an office.
As a remote developer, you have to gain some working familiarity with different tools.
Mind you, I’m not just talking about your typical coding tools, but other general-purpose, business tools including collaboration tools, communication tools and even the likes of workflow automation software.
In fact, you have to make it a habit of using the right tools for the right purposes, well because you see, tools do contribute to your overall success, productivity, and delivery.
7. They organize and take charge of their workspace
Just like working on a project you’re not passionate about, the wrong work environment (or a poorly-organized workspace) can deep-six your productivity and sabotage your bottom line.
Not something you want?
Of course, nobody wants that.
Conceivably, this is why every serious remote worker take care of their workspace like they would the type of projects they enter into.
By taking charge of your workspace, you create a dedicated expanse that only exists to house you when you’re working, not for watching TV or confabulating with friends.
One good differentiation of a great workspace is zero distraction, another very important habit that remote developers must adopt, and also our next point.
8. They limit distractions and focus their concentration
Working remotely can sometimes be more challenging than working on-site, in terms of the distractions you’d be facing at home— the kids, TV, uninvited guests, and even the fact that your kitchen might just be some few metres away from your home office.
But successful—and productive— remote workers? They know how to keep the distraction level low.
Needless to say, distraction jeopardizes productivity. But, as a remote developer, you know that productivity is important because to some extent, your hourly rate depends on how fast you’re able to work.
As such, you have to expunge distractions without omission.
But beyond getting rid of distractions, you also have to focus your concentration on the right things.
Concentration requires working on a task relentlessly until it is 100% complete.
Successful remote workers understand that they must work in a straight line to get from where they are to where they want to go without diversion or distraction.
This is called the habit of task completion (or the habit of “finishing what you started”) and it’s important for developing a successful WAH-based career.
9. They focus on results
Results are a major indicator of success. The more results you get, the more successful you tend to be.
Successful remote workers do this, not once, but as a habit.
They are result-oriented, and they ensure that all their efforts and activities are worked towards driving results both for themselves and for those they work with.
So, don’t just focus on executing the 20+ to-dos on your Wunderlist, focus on the quantitative results your efforts will be producing.
Or in plain-speak, don’t just focus on quantity, focus on the quality of your work.
10. They are good idea generators
How do you come up with solutions for things that need to be done?
Simple, you ideate and work it up.
Without the ability to generate creative ideas and initiate working solutions, it’ll be difficult to work remotely.
Successful remote developers are full of ideas.
Even better, they know how to sell the right ideas to the right people, sharing not only why the idea is good, but how it will impact the team and business.
That’s why you need to have, readily available, a book or an app for recording ideas that pop up on your head.
And to wrap this up…
Though this article focuses on habits of successful remote workers, it contains some useful tips which you can use to grow your business and achieve your “developer” goals.
A habit can be described as a pattern of behavior or practice done on a regular basis.
So, here’s the thing:
Adopt the habits outlined above. Meticulously implement the tips— not once, not for two weeks, but on a regular basis—and before long, you’ll be basking in the euphoria of your success as a developer.