Working Remotely Means "Your" Schedule, Not “No” Schedule


Fred Perrotta

If you think that working remotely means lying in bed in sweatpants, you also probably think that it means starting late and quitting early.

For colocated employees, a work from home (WFH) day is like a vacation. Everyone at the office knows that you're probably slacking. Even better, they don't mind your working at half speed because they plan to do the same when they have the excuse to WFH.

Search Google images for "work from home" and you'll see a variety of people with laptops wearing pajamas. Even the people who are fully dressed are working in uncomfortable positions hunched over a coffee table or balancing their computer on their knees. If this is what your remote work set up looks like, you're doing it wrong.

We all have our lazy days when our productivity dips. We're human. It happens.

When you work from home regularly, you have to break your old work habits and develop new ones to be productive outside of an office.

Aside from getting dressed, establishing a schedue is one of the most important habits you can build.

Working remotely offers us freedom. Not freedom from a schedule but freedom to create a schedule that works for us.

Your schedule is no longer 9-5. Your schedule is what works best for you and your teammates.

Remote companies differ on the rules here. At Edgar, a remote software company, everyone works US hours based on their time zone. Buffer is more flexible, but it's employees still end up working about 8 hours per day.

Without a plan, you are planning to fail. Even if you're new to remote work, you likely have an idea of when you're most productive. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Aside from general productivity, you likely have other parts of your life that you want to schedule around, whether that's as something simple as a workout or as important as your kids.

You get to make your schedule, but you probably still need a schedule. By working consistent hours, you can develop a routine. Even with the freedom of remote work, routines are important. You may still have a schedule the follow, but you get to make one that works for you. You no longer have to conform to a generic schedule meant to corral everyone in one space for as long as possible.

My Schedule

  • 8-12: Deep Work: Writing, planning, or data analysis
  • 12-2: Lunch and gym
  • 2-5: Light Work: Admin, email, and other reactive work

This schedule allows me to do my most important work when I'm most alert and productive: in the morning. Then I break for lunch and a workout. The workout gives me a boost of energy to power through my less exciting tasks in the afternoon.

I work pretty normal hours, Pacific time. Without the peer pressured conformity of an office or having to stay on-site all day, I can cook my own (healthy) lunch and go to the gym in the middle of the day when it's less crowded. I put up an away message on Slack just so everyone knows where I am and that I'll respond when I'm back. Otherwise, I doubt anyone would notice that I wasn't at my desk. In either case, no one cares.

Rebelling against the "rules" of colocated work feels good when you first start to work remotely. Then you realize that a schedule is important for your sanity and productivity.

The gift of remote work is getting to make your own schedule, not getting to avoid schedules altogether.