If you didn’t have a chance to read my first post, I’m working remotely for YesGraph, and attempting to document the entire process with data from Rescuetime and Fitbit (as well as keeping detailed logs on what I do during the day.)
I’ve never worked a full-time remote job, so these posts are an attempt to share my learnings. I’m also hoping that by publishing the data, it forces me to develop good habits. Here’s how my first week went, although I started my documentation process on Tuesday.
I’ll first begin by summarizing high-level learnings, and then dive into the specifics later.
This will be a constant work in progress
If I learned anything over the course of the week, it’s that working remotely will be an iterative learning process. Like any skill, this is something that will take time to get used to.
Human Interaction is Important
I’d consider myself a social individual, so going from constant interaction with coworkers to working on my own is a significant shift. I’ll discuss this more in detail later.
Productivity (Am I working too much? Or not enough?)
I expected this to be the case before I started working remotely, but I think it’s not easy to balance work hours. Working remotely values what you produce, over sinking man-hours into a problem, which I find fascinating. It’s also pretty challenging to measure (which is why I’m using Rescue Time as a benchmark.) Fortunately YesGraph is focused on results, not man-hours.
One of the most eye-opening aspects of working remotely is the sense of trust that you feel. Working remotely is a privilege, and it’s surprisingly rare that a company trusts you enough to know that you will produce high-quality work, no matter what location you work from.
Methods of Communication
When working on-site it’s easy to resort to in-person communication as a first action. This is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because human interaction is a great way to build a bond with co-workers and quickly find the answers to certain problems you may face, but it’s a curse because it’s often destroys coworker productivity.
Exercise isn’t Easy
It’s easy to stay inside all day, and this first week I didn’t exercise nearly as much as I should have. This will be a major effort of mine in the future to change.
Ownership of Time
An interesting aspect about working remotely (and measuring results over “butt-in-seat” time) is you feel an intense amount of responsibility to maximize every minute of your time. At a “normal job” when you get bored, you might browse Reddit. While working remotely, you still might get bored, but instead of doing a mindless activity, you can do household chores. You feel more ownership over your time.
As I mentioned before, I tried to track as much as possible, and below are the data points from each day of the week. My goal is to show that this is a process of experimentation.
Week #1 Aggregate Stats
Overall, it seems like I was pretty productive, below is my RescueTime pulse. It’s important to note that these stats are NOT over a complete 40 hour week (I started this experiment on Tuesday and did onboarding tasks on Sunday.) While I’m happy with a “92”, I think I can do better (and should do better.) It’s important to note that RescueTime is not and end-all solution on productivity, but I think it’s the best solution out there.Next, you can see which days I was most and least productive. Next, you can see my productivity throughout the day. I don’t see anything obvious, but I felt more productive in the morning. Clearly the data shows otherwise.
Unfortunately my Fitbit had a problem syncing on Tuesday, so I only have stats for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I’ll break these down into the daily reports below.
In the daily reports, the purpose is to show my attempt to do something new everyday. My overall learning is that mixing up activities is one of the most exciting parts about working remotely, yet certain activities can help/hurt your productivity.
On Tuesday, I went to a coffee shop to work in the morning (8:40am – 11:20am), and worked from home in the afternoon. I got a decent amount of exercise this day, but unfortunately my Fitbit crashed and I lost the data.
On Wednesday, I didn’t get much exercise at all (the goal is 10,000 steps/day), yet I was pretty productive throughout the day. I worked the entire day from home.
**This was my most productive day of the week (in terms of hours worked), and ironically, this was also the one day out of the week that my wife worked from home as well. Take a look at the stats below. Compared to other days, there was more fluctuation with my productivity, but overall, it was pretty awesome to work from home together.
**I would love to see overall stats of the productivity of the American workforce on a Friday. I ended up walking nearly 4 miles before beginning work at 9am, yet for some reason my productivity suffered. Perhaps this was because it’s the end of the week, I’m not sure? You can also see my productivity started dropping rapidly in the afternoon. While I think this is quite normal, my goal is to stretch more productivity out of my Friday afternoons.
This week I’m working on-site at YesGraph HQ, so it’s nearly pointless to report on my remote productivity or exercise. I am tracking my productivity on-site, as to benchmark the difference between working remotely and in-person. I’m really excited to see what I learn!