The Guide to Being a Remote Worker in Houston
If you’ve directed your eyes towards a news site in the last year, you’ve probably come across an article or two about the future of remote work, and how it’s either going to save us all from the misery of bumper to bumper traffic and the constant interruption in open office plans, or how it’ll be the ruin of new ideas and collaboration due to social isolation and you not changing out of your pajamas for days on end.
I had been curious about the concept of remote work since I first heard about it in 2014, and for my most recent job search, was interested in keeping all options open and not being limited by geography. I decided to take the plunge and accepted an offer at a remote-first software startup that is headquartered in San Francisco. I had some assumptions, a couple of expectations, and an overwhelming amount of excitement that this was the right company, team, and working style for me.
Fast forward just a few short months later, and I can safely say it has absolutely been the right decision. I’ve learned about my own work style, my community in Houston, and what I need to be a successful part of a remote team. If you are living in Houston and looking to make the transition to remote work, or are a freelancer or entrepreneur aiming to be more productive but not sure where to start, below are some tactical tips you may find useful:
1. Location, location, location.
Having a solid work environment is probably the most important decision I make in the morning and sets the tone for how my day will go. Do I want to spend the entire day at my coworking space, the morning at home and afternoon at my favorite coffee shop, check emails from home in the morning and then head to my coworking space from there?
If your company is willing to cover the cost of a coworking space for you, I highly recommend it. Houston coworking spots are plentiful, and affordable compared to other major U.S. cities, so it usually makes for an easy argument:
prices are for comparable memberships and city locations
For anyone, whether you have a Pinterest-worthy home office, millenial-oozing coworking space, or are bopping from spot to spot, a cozy coffee shop is always a good way to recharge, get a change of scenery, and tackle your to do list. Skip the Starbucks line and hit up one of Houston’s many local coffee shops. Here are some of Team HTX Talent’s favorites:
**Disclaimer: We’ve got some heavy inside-the-loop bias here. What are your favorite spots to work out of outside of the loop? Tweet us @HTXTalent or drop us a line at email@example.com.
EQ Heights - “We want EQ Heights to become a social house."
Antidote - "The neighborhood coffee house in the Heights."
Aah, Coffee - "We are a neighborhood coffee shop that reflects the heart, history,& future of EaDo."
Giant Leap - "At Giant Leap, we understand that an awesome cup of coffee is one small step toward a better morning, a more productive meeting and a more relatable universe."
Chamba Coffee -"La Chamba Café is now open and embedded in Houston’s Historic East End, bringing coffee + careers in an open, inviting, and friendly environment."
Coral Sword - "Yes, we have wi-fi, but we also have so much more."
2. Good Wifi is the roof over your head...
is the hand that feeds you, and is really easy to not fully appreciate when it’s working properly. But when you have a conference call at 2pm and Xfinity decides to have a last minute outage, you better have a backup plan:
Try investing in a Wifi hotspot if you know your work is going to include regular video calls. Costs vary quite a bit depending on what phone plan you’re on and how much data you need. Here’s a guide that can help give you an estimate.
Taking back everything I said about Xfinity above, their Wifi plan does offer Xfinity Hotspots throughout the city. #NotSponsored #ButCouldBe
3. Schedule schedule schedule schedule.
Make one. Stick to it. Live by it. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you skip a thing or two. I’d like to think I’ve always been an organized person, but there is nothing like having a full, unstructured day ahead of you to send you into a spiraling analysis paralysis of what to work on first.
One thing that can really help with this is finding accountability buddies to cowork with. Have a fellow freelancer or remote worker friend? Schedule coworking dates at one of the coffee shops mentioned above to keep you motivated.
Recharge with a lunch-time or midday yoga sesh. I’ve become a big fan of YogaBetter in the Heights. Have a yoga go-to? Share with us!
Pick a tool that works for you. Is it a notes app, Evernote, notebook and paper? A lined notebook? Unlined notebook? Huh, who cares?! (I do, deeply). Experiment with different methods and tools until you find something that works for you, not necessarily what the latest productivity blog is telling you. (I’m an Apple notes + pen and lined paper kinda gal myself).
4. Every day is different.
This one is slightly related to #3 above. Some days you will be the living embodiment of productivity, crossing everything off your to do list and beating your triumphant chest to the efficiency gods. Other days you won’t, and that’s okay. Count your wins, go home, pet your dog, and recharge. Tomorrow is always a new day!
my littol ladies </3
5. You aren't in this alone.
Remote work can be isolating if you don’t create mechanisms to socialize. Find meetups to explore your passions related to or totally outside of work, meet like-minded people, and get to know your community. If you’re looking for some inspo, here are a few Houston meetups and social groups our team gives a thumbs up:
HexagonUX - an awesome meetup for women in UX. Meetups range from cool speakers from various UX backgrounds, fun socials, mentorship programs, and more.
- Houston Scrum Product Owner Community of Practice - lead by the head of Customer Experience Innovation at Global Custom Commerce, this is a great community of product managers and product owners who are looking to fine tune their craft.
TXRX - a non-profit makerspace located in the East End, TXRX is your one-stop-shop for all things “maker.” In addition to having an impressive collection of machinery you can use at affordable prices, they also have amazing classes. Want to learn wood work, sewing, or how to make your first pickle ? They’ve got that and much much more.
By Hira Qarni, HTX Talent Contributor
If you’re new to remote work and looking for more tips, OR if you’re a veteran and have tips you’d like to add, we’d love to hear from you! You can tweet us at @HTXTalent or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org