Remote Work Tips, Tricks & Guidelines

Melanie Stoeckle

Melanie Stoeckle,

May 21, 2020

As much as we all love the Awesome Inc space and going into the office every. single. day., we are #blessed with the flexibility of being able to work from home with our jobs at APAX. Whether you are quarantined at home during a pandemic (too soon?), traveling on the road for a while, or trying to extend your trip to an exotic island that magically happens to have the proper wifi speeds for video calls (been there), follow these tips, tricks and guidelines that your very own Melo has gathered and prepared for you over my 2+ years of working remotely.

Working while traveling.

All WFH foundational tips from above still apply here, but then there are more added variables to consider now, such as timezones, scheduling and finding reliable wifi.

  • General scheduling: Make yourself as available as you can during the office’s work hours, but if you do want to take advantage of the flexible schedules we can have, just be sure to communicate it and still get your work done!

  • Time zones: If you are in a different timezone, try to overlap with office work hours at least half a day.

    • Remember when you have that 5:30am or 11pm meeting because you’re in a whacky timezone, that working remotely is a privilege and you should do what you can to make your coworkers back in KY not feel the burden of it.
  • “Offline” working: This is something that I have done quite a bit when I know that I will be traveling (on a train or plane) or likely out of service (camped in my van outside of Yosemite) during a work day. I always let people know about this at least the day before and do any necessary prep work to make sure that I can get my goals done that day without internet. And guess what… I am usually really productive on these days!

Tips for finding reliable wifi

  • Coffee shops

  • Coworking spaces

  • Public libraries

  • Public spaces: Some city downtowns, transportation stations and parks provide public wifi. It isn’t always top notch, but if you are looking for a change of scenery, go ahead and post up on a park bench that has wifi for a little while and get some work done while also getting fresh air and a strange laptop tan.

  • Breweries

  • Laundromats (multi-tasking!)

  • Great fallback places that always have reliable wifi and can be found in many places

    • Starbucks
    • McDonald’s
    • Hotel lobbies
    • In places where finding good wifi is tricky, if you can find a cafe or restaurant that is on the pricier side, they usually have more reliable wifi and you can just pay your way to work that day. And then after that, you probably want to get out of that area before your budget collapses in on itself from buying unnecessary tea and pastries just to hold your table so the waiters and baristas don’t hate you.

Finding a quiet place to take a client video call? This is my #1 stressor for working on the road. Coffee shops are sometimes noisy, coworking space day passes are expensive, and libraries usually don’t open until 9-10am, which doesn’t work well for early meetings and being on the west coast. What to do??

  • Get a good pair of headphones. This makes a huge difference, it can help to drown out background noise (though nothing will completely cut out the espresso machine noise when somebody orders an quad Americano during your presentation) and focus on your voice so you are easier to hear.
  • Utilize study rooms at public libraries. Public libraries are free, quiet, and an AMAZING resource!!!
  • Do what you can to find the quietest corner wherever you are. Even in a loud coffee shop, different areas of the room can make a difference.
  • Warn everybody on the call of your situation at the start. This doesn’t have to be an apology, but just a courteous heads up such as, “Hey guys, just so you know, I’m working from a coffee shop this morning, so just beware that there may be some background noise” works great.
  • If there is a lot of background noise and there’s nothing you can do about it (hey it happens), just mute yourself when you’re not talking so as not to affect the others on the call.

General Productivity Protips

  • Productivity protip: Pomodoro technique! (say that five times fast) - Set a goal, turn off all distractions (Slack, email, phone, etc.), start a 25-minute alarm and go! You will be surprised at how much you can get done with 25-minute increments of intense focus. I like to use this website for my timer.
  • Weekly Top 5 or daily to-do lists can help you to focus on your daily goals.
  • Use or Google Maps to scope out some potential work spots.
  • For finding more reliable work spots, search for coffee shops on Google Maps, and then go through their reviews for further info. Keywords that I use when searching in the reviews are “wifi”, “internet”, “outlets”, “plugs”, “laptop”, “computer” and “work”.
  • Mute Slack notifications when you need that focus/need heads down time, and set your Slack status to reflect that so coworkers know you might not respond for a little while.

Pay attention to when and where you work better. Many of you may already have this nailed down for working at home, but this takes time to learn if you are traveling. For example, I am most productive early in the morning, and I do really well at coffee shops for the first half/two-thirds of the day before needing a change of scenery. This helps to inform my travel plans/research and means when I am looking for potential work spots at a destination, I am generally looking for coffee shops that open before 7am.