10 Commandments for Remote Working

0. Thou shalt remain empathetic when friends complain about their commute

A large portion of the experienced joy of remote working is avoiding the daily commute. The joy exponentially increases in inclement weather or when polar vortices start raging. (I receive quite a bit of joy with our yearly snowfall of 109 inches). Remember to be considerate of those who have to commute. Remember to have empathy and use tact when mentioning your lack of commute time. No one likes a show off!

1. Setup Dedicated Office Space

This is one of the key attributes of successful remote working. Ensure that you periodically clean your office. Having a clean office will help clear any mental clutter. Additionally when video conferencing, it will be presentable and non-distracting.

2. Be Disciplined With Your Time

Ethics and integrity are extremely important when working remote. Being disciplined with your time helps to avoid the stress at the end of the day if you haven’t accomplished as much as you should have. Using a technique such as Pomodora can help you get into consistent habits.

3. Communicate Your Presence (or Absence)

Remember A.B.C. – Always Be Communicating. This is a critical aspect of succeeding as a remote worker. The initiative to communicate is your responsibility, not your managers. It’s less troubling for your employer/manager when they know you ran to the gym for an hour as opposed to assuming you’re just not present. Intentionally communicate about when you’re working and when you’re not.

4. Have a Headset (and Use It)

Skype calls and conference calls are a big enough challenge. Completely avoid the challenges of not hearing what is said, and not being clearly heard. Purchase a quality headset for both your computer and your phone.

5. Have a Webcam (and Use It)

Video conferencing is awkward at first. Ok, it can always be awkward; but it is an important part of cultivating remote relationships. It greatly enhances the fidelity of an interaction, understanding tone, and finally giving more weight to you participation in a team.

6. Take a Shower And Get Dressed Daily

This is important to create a trigger to help you transition into work mode. It is also important for those who are around you (such as your family) to see that you are, in fact, engaging with work. Also it means you’re always ready for those important unexpected video calls.

7. Leave The House And Interact With Other People Daily

This is most important for people that live alone. If you don’t have some variance within your day, days will blur into weeks and months. Avoid becoming a hermit! Even if it’s just starting off the first 15 minutes of your day in a coffee shop, it will help significantly.

8. Set “Office Hours” For Yourself

Setting “office hours” is most helpful when you’re working a changing flexible schedule. It helps with settings expectations with your colleagues for when you’re present. Also, it makes it easier to respond when asked to help a friend/family member, “I’m scheduled to work during that time”.

9. Go For a Walk/Bike/Run Daily (at Least 15 Minutes)

Sitting is the new smoking. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous, you just have to get moving. Start your creative brainstorming session with a brisk walk. As long as there isn’t snow and ice on the ground, I bike to our local post office daily to check the PO Box instead of driving. The 1.5 mile ride is a great way to get the circulation moving.

10. Understand and Speak Videos, Gifs and Memes (Humor)

This is one of the common cultural components of remote workers. Have you Rick Rolled you co-worker today? Memes and funnies can help keep the work environment fun and engaging as you respond to that new deadline with your quick wit. You’ve seen the gifs of a “Developers Life” right? Ooh, there’s also Part 2 (Just make sure you keep things appropriate) Final bit of culture, you’ve all see the Jedi Cat right? Oooh, one final final one Batman – Dark Knight Rises trailer. It has some classic scenes in it.


This list of commandments all has a common theme. Have you found it yet? They’re all relationship based. They’re all focused on establishing, building and cultivating relationships both when you’re physically present and when you’re not. Go forth and be productive!