With whispers of a recession rattling through every industry, many are starting to brace for impact. Though it’s likely that nearly every sector will be hit if the economy tanks, one sweet spot that’s predicted to grow is the independent contractor network. Freelancers or remote workers are a budget-friendly way to keep companies running smoothly, without worrying about insurance, retirement and other benefits that full-time employees are given. And for those who decided to take this route, working from home — or from wherever you’d like — has some major work/life perks that allow flexibility and freedom.
The only downer is a little trendy thing called FOMO. Since you don’t have colleagues to share your ups and downs with, office gatherings, or other community-building activities, it’s natural to feel a little left out or at times, lonely. Or, if you’re logging long hours when you’d rather be going on an adventure since you’re technically remote and can — self-discipline becomes a priority.
If you find yourself in this situation — or you’re thinking of taking your gig on the road — take the advice of seasoned remote workers who resist FOMO on the daily:
Tell your team your schedule — and stick to it
Ryan O’Connor, the co-founder of One Tribe Apparel has been remote for six years, across 30 countries, and currently calls Kiev, Ukraine home. Since he’s been doing the timezone tango for a while now, he’s figured out an effective way to remain connected to the team is via your work schedule. He makes a point to communicate when he’s working and online — and he holds true to his word.
“Even if sometimes it may fluctuate I always block out time in my calendar where my team knows I’ll be working and knows they can reach me or schedule time to talk. Once I set that time I have to stick to it and it becomes my prime responsibility and more important than going off and doing something fun,” he explains. “Just like we that writing goals down makes them more concrete so does writing out your weekly schedule.”
Utilize video chat
One of the pitfalls of remote work is not being able to have conversations in real-time. So much can be miscommunicated through digital mediums like email or messaging programs like Slack. One way to not only feel connected to your colleagues but to avoid mishaps is to invest in reliable video software, according to Nate Hake. He’s been working remotely for three years and is currently meeting deadlines from Tbilisi, Georgia. For Hake, video chat has made a difference in inclusion.
“It’s easy to fall into the trap of having every conversation by the phone, but important communication signals are missed when you can’t see the other person. Humans are visual creatures, and we connect better with other people when we can see them,” he continues. “Pushing for communications to be via a video chat platform versus on the telephone can help you feel more present and reduce FOMO.”
Think in years — not days
If one of your motivations to go remote is to see the world, that’s awesome. But it also presents an important question: how long will you travel? If it’s only for a few months, balancing deliverables, while also attempting to see everything you possibly can, will be difficult. However, if you play the long game and decide to travel for at least a year, O’Connor says the lifestyle is more manageable.
“If you want to maintain your remote freedom over the long haul you have to be diligent in getting your work done. I’ve seen a lot of people let the fun parts of the lifestyle take over and a few months later they end up back home at an office job,” he explains. “If you focus on the long term and realize the success of your work will create more and more opportunities then blowing off your responsibilities for a day at the beach isn’t as tempting.”
Focus on the good parts and connect with other remote workers
When you start to see office selfies or overhear on a conference call colleagues talking about something that happened, it’s easy to feel left out. However, the more you can focus on the good parts of remote work and connect with other remote workers, the happier you’ll feel in your lifestyle.
Meeting other bonafide digital nomads is what made a difference for travel blogger Inma Gregorio. She’s traveled all over for six years and is currently living in Northern Spain.
“Instead of worrying about missing the happy hour with your company colleagues, get outside your cubicle and try to find people in the same situation as you,” she explains. “Once you figure out who they are as well as when and where do they meet; chances are joining them will be as easy as pie! The remote workers’ community share the same struggles everywhere around the world.”
Consider your perks
Sure, there’s a coffee machine at the office you used to commute to every day. But if you join a WeWork — or many other co-working spaces — you may even find free cold brew. And yes, when your birthday rolled around, your co-workers surprised you with a card and cupcakes. But now, you can — ya know — not work on your special day!
Though travel and lifestyle writer Elizabeth Blasi used to work in a corporate setting where celebrations were plenty and boosted her morale — they weren’t great news for her health.
“They were fun and festive, a good way to spend time with my coworkers. However, they were always based around food-centric parties: hot potato bars, grilled cheese stations, and more. I was fueling my body with unhealthy food and putting on unnecessary weight from these office parties,” she explains.
Now, she can work from wherever and connect with other remote workers to make smarter choices, like a mid-day indoor cycling or barre class. This is just one example of the shift in perks, but it’s important to figure out what actually matters to you. Even if something was traditionally offered when you worked 9-to-5, you may realize, like Blasi, it wasn’t that great in the first place.