Plan to work effectively, or else...

Freelancing is a type of work that requires a certain amount of self-discipline and self-management. It’s easy to slip up, if you don’t establish guidelines. Everyone needs structure, even freelancers on-the-go. Get the overhead in order by creating a central space where invoices, tax documents, and time trackers can be monitored, made and sent. (We’re biased, but we think we’ve nailed it).

Now that you have the papers in order, it’s time to think of how to be an effective, remote colleague. To be helpful and to avoid frustration, it’s time to think of the work rhythm that reflects your own cycle of productive whilst melding with your remote colleagues’ schedules.

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How do you work remotely whilst still be an effective part of a team?

As the adage goes, "plan to prepare, or prepare to fail”. A freelancer must prep plan out how they will communicate and work effectively with a client. If applicable, create an on boarding process. Planning out where and how you will work will save you—and your colleagues— time and headaches.

Discuss goals and establish expectations

When hired, discuss with your manager the long-term goals of your team and see how your position contributes to that larger goal. Lay out what is expected of you, like weekly deadlines and call-ins. Get integrated onto the company’s Slack, or other communication platform. That way, you have a much clearer way of talking with each other and exchanging feedback over work. Tell managers when the best times are to reach you, especially when changing time zones. This avoids the frustration of people failing to reach you and increase the chances of smooth sailing.

Create a reliable workspace

Most remote jobs need consistent WiFi. The ease of life back home—the ability to find an outlet, at least 3G broadband speed, electricity—may be difficult to find, depending on where you are. Do the research and find the best place where you can get work done. That could mean working in a cafe or a hotel lobby with good Internet. If you’re renting a place, be sure they have consistent WiFi at all hours. These essentials will allow you to focus on doing your work, rathe than worrying how many GBs you’re using.

Keep constant communication

Research conducted by the Human Computer Interaction Institute found “visualization tool made a significant difference, improving not only individual performance, but also collaboration”. If a long-term client is only communicating via email, talk to them about opening a communication tool, like Slack or Google Hangouts. Since you’ve established core working hours and expectations, continue to give feedback to the client. Contribute and be part of the dialogue. If you see a discussion about what algorithm technique to use for the new rollout, type in your thoughts and reasoning. 80 percent of innovative ideas happen in informal discussions; keep the dialogue going with colleagues, even asking how their weekend was. It goes beyond rote talk talking only over the latest marketing decision; it creates a casual space where you can contribute your own creative ideas.

Managing yourself remotely is not a cookie-cutter solution; a freelancer has to do the work to figure out how they work best whilst melding the expectations their clients possess. Figure out your own strategy for success. The best attitude a client and freelancer can create is one of patience, flexibility, and a sense of humor as a clear schedule is being established.