A Millenial's Guide To Remote Work

This isn’t 1960

I see tons of articles on remote working out there written by old hags from a time when people owned houses and companies would pay you to sit around in your underwear two days out of every seven.

Outreachy internships all consist of remote work, and I was talking to a fellow Outreachy intern yesterday who has some difficulties about it, so I thought I’d visit the subject. Since I have a few years of hands-on experience on the matter, and not much else to report otherwise, here are a few tips that actually apply to the realities of 2018.

“How do I keep my work life separate from my personal life?”

This is the most pervasive myth about about remote work. Truth is you don’t have to keep things separate.

You might’ve seen in a few places that whole “bring your whole self to work” thing, and that’s just what you should do. If you can make work your life then you don’t have to waste precious time and energy trying to keep it separate from your personal life.

Ask any double agent whether it makes them happy to live two separate, distinct lives. It doesn’t. So just make work your focus and stop trying to have a “separate life” apart from that. Unless you’re a double agent, then by all means keep at it.

And before you start with the common excuses not to do this… kids make you old, relationships end, your health’s gonna go eventually anyway, and “friends” are really just interested in you babysitting their cats when they go out of town.

“How do I organize my work hours?”

All hours are work hours. Next!

“How do I communicate properly with my coworkers?”

Another common myth about remote working is that you should overcommunicate. That’s not true at all. People won’t like you if you talk too much, and your boss has better things to do like catching up on Netflix and posting dank memes on reddit.

When someone needs you to do something they’ll tell you. If what you did sucked, they’ll tell you. If you’re fired, no need for words, your login will just stop working all of a sudden. And if you need something from someone, tough luck, why bother asking.

Besides, we’re all nerds. We’re pretty good at reading lack of punctuation and the duration of “typing…” on chats. They’re just like body language and tone of voice, and they’re pretty easy to read.

I mean, when someone says “hey yo wats up you got a sec” the whole subtext is pretty clear, right?

If it’s an emergency and you really need to get your point across, just use a gif.

“How to stay motivated when working on my own?”

If you stop working you’ll starve to death and die. Fuck yeah capitalism.

“What if my boss asks me to do something I’m not qualified for?”

This is where remote work really shines. In an IRL job this is where your boss would notice how underqualified you really are and fire you. Since now you have the magic of the intertubes between you and that jerk, you can keep scamming the sucker for a bit longer.

You simply have to make it look like you are qualified for whatever it is. Here are a few things you could say to assert that:

  • “Well sure… but will it scale?”
  • “That sounds reasonable… but shouldn’t we do it on the cloud?”
  • “Let’s use distributed computing to spin up a cluster and use machine learning to figure out the optimal solution.”

Any of these sentences will instantly make you sound amazing. While everyone is still dazzled by your expertise you can just watch a few YouTube vids to figure out what it is that you should actually do.

Remember, remote work means working on the computer all day. And computer shit is easy. It’s all on YouTube. Just watch a few vids and you’ll be fine.


And in closing, here are a few extra tips do make sure you’ll do as well as you possibly can:

  • Take pride in your work. Every time you do anything at all, share it on every social network there is. Make sure your experience is recognized. Fixed a quick HTML bug? Write a blog post about it. Wrote a blog post? Write a book about the experience. Wrote a book? Now you’re an industry expert, feel free to start a consulting practice.

  • Help others. People appreciate it when you help them better themselves. It makes the whole world better. This is especially important in areas like writing and communication. (And terms like “grammar nazi” are really harsh and when people call you that just tell ‘em to go fuck themselves.)

  • The way to stay focused is to take it easy. If you work too hard on something you’ll get tired and your concentration will waver. When you’re working on something really important you should cut your noggin some slack. Watch Netflix while programming. Catch up on reddit during meetings. Have your favourite hip hop artist playing at a comfortable volume when on a call with your boss.

  • Some substances may help you feel better. Alcohol or Illegal Drugs® may assist you in coping with the stresses of daily life. If you work from home and won’t put anyone in harms way this is absolutely fine. Make sure you have at least one substance-free day every week so that you don’t become addicted. And remember, don’t drink and drive, kids!

Lastly, don’t be discouraged. No matter how bad things get, they could be worse. And no matter how bad you think worse can be, it could still be worser. So be grateful that they aren’t worser just yet, keep your head down, and get back to work. Life doesn’t seem so bad when you’re too busy to think about it.