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Show HN: Learn how to work remotely from people doing it every day (remotehabits.com)
343 points by Jasber 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 76 comments

Hey HN! Here's a small side-project I've been working on to help remote workers. I noticed when I switched to full-time indie dev, I experienced some new problems, like building discipline, habits and healthy routines. I don't like most productivity advice, as Paul Buchheit says most advice is limited life experience + over-generalized to fit your situation.

I thought a good way around this would to just tell stories about remote workers, how they got started, what they like, what they don't like, routines they've found that are helpful, etc...

So that's what the site aims to do—interview remote workers so you can learn from their experiences.

One cool thing about the site is you can deep dive specific questions, like

* What do you like about remote work? http://remotehabits.com/interviews/question/what-do-you-like....

* What do you not like about remote work? http://remotehabits.com/interviews/question/what-do-you-not-....

Let me know what you think, thanks!

the best thing is no commute, the energy overhead of a long commute is terrible. The worst thing is missing out on conversations/decisions being made at the office. My corporate office is in San Diego while I'm in Dallas, even though I'm a director and the buck stops with me in engineering, lots of sidebar conversations and decisions get made in Sand Diego face-to-face and not on conference calls and slack channels.

This is very difficult to address. I think people (in the office) need to buy in and use chat or email as communication mode number one. Either that or someone needs to come out with some better tele-presence for remote teams to interact with people in the office.

Think about what you are saying. We should forgo direct communication with people next to us, in favor of an online alternative? Even though your goal is noble (enabling remote workers) your method is unnatural.

I agree that a way to better integrate remote workers is essential. However disposing of direct communication is not the way to do it. I don't have an answer, we need a novel approach.

I've considered setting up a couple of tablets with webcams in my remote office and my office in the company. That way people can come talk to me whenever they need to.

Noticed both those links are broken, doh! Here they are again:

* What do you like about remote work? http://remotehabits.com/interviews/question/what-do-you-like...

* What do you not like about remote work? http://remotehabits.com/interviews/question/what-do-you-not-...

Looks like we soaked your quota, sorry!

It's not in the Wayback Machine, is there another cache somewhere?

This is great. I'm currently browsing for viable, worthwhile opportunities for myself to set my girlfriend and I on the path to getting out of the city. Need more outdoors time.

I haven't worked purely remotely before outside of a couple of light projects where I was the sole eng/dev.

I'm always keeping my eyes open for new resources. Looks like it might be helpful! Good idea, and nice job.

This is great, I've been thinking about doing something similar but not been able to make the time so it is good to see someone else doing it. There is quite a lot of information out there about tackling the logistical challenges of operating remotely esp for software development, great to hear other perspectives and industries.

We already used up your bandwidth quota?

This is great!

Just one feedback - kindly reduce the CSS font-weight from 900 to something like 400-500.

Thanks for the feedback!

I've been remote for about 5 years now. Once thing often overlooked is the perception of working remote by significant others. It took a handful of fights with my wife until we came to an understanding that from 8-5 i'm at work, even though I'm home, I'm still at work. Granted, there's give and take like with all things in a marriage but when I "leave" for work and shut the office door I may as well be 30miles away in an office building until 5.

I've been working remote from home for 15 of the past 18 years.

Taking it a step further, the biggest problem with "my door is shut, I'm at work" is that I sometimes need to open my door. Perhaps for lunch or a snack. Or just to stretch my legs and think. Just because my family sees me wandering around the house doesn't mean I'm available.

I've found that it works best to have my wife & kids email me questions/info/thoughts even though we're in the same house. I can then respond when I'm available. Sometimes via email or sometimes by initiating a conversation.

Ha! I was working remote yesterday from my couch for a portion of the day. My wife wanted me to go to the store with her and her justification was "you're just playing on the computer"

As someone who’s not married it also isn’t good for relationships in general. Staying home all day basically makes you the least interesting person in the world. You never have any crazy stories, weird colleagues, office romances, and whatever else normal people talk about. How do you answer “how was your day” and make it interesting?

I know I'm unusual about this, but I really try to keep my conversations away from simply just normal happenings. I recognize this is probably a necessity to share our days, but I value people that speak about ideas more.

Yeah, I work remote and I don't talk to people about my job at all other than to describe it if they ask. Frankly my job sounds boring and the industry I'm in is totally unglamorous so the less I say the better. I'd rather talk about all the stuff I do outside of work.

For the record I love my job and the company I'm with.

So just discuss non-computer related stories from HN...

My wife also works from home which makes it all good, but, during the 26 years working from home, I indeed had girlfriends who thought; great, he is home let’s go do something fun! Explaining it does not work like that is tiresome, I mean, what is so hard to understand? Also many people actually believe I am on some kind of permanent vacation. Which I find weird too as I am a hard worker and usually spend more rather than less time working than they do, but they have to go to an office so it feels more real.

I'm starting a remote position on Monday, and my wife and I have had a similar conversation. I've portrayed it in similar ways: when I'm working, it should be the same as if I were still at my downtown office; but I can teleport home instantly if there is a true emergency.

Oh the luxury. I live in London. No way I could afford a dedicated office room. I settle for the corner of my living room, with a good pair of noise cancelling headphones which indicate "I'm working". Seems to work, most of the time.

Seconding this. I've worked from home for 16 years(my whole life).

I've taken to asking my SO to treat it like I'm at an office, and not home at all. A lot of discussions end in "is that something you could do during your work day?"

> I see a ton of new freelancer make the mistake of charging $15 or more from the jump without 0 reputation to back up that value. You can't expect to be paid what you want without having a way of proving that value in some way. [1]

To give a counter point. I have done the opposite with 0 reputation, I charged between 60 to 70 euro's per hour. I now increased my rate to 75 euro's per hour, since I know a couple of bootcamp graduates who charge the same. Why do they charge the same? Well, one got into a dev shop and he quickly realized he was the best web dev and got rented out for a 100 euro's per hour.

Though per haps one difference is that I knew people who needed a freelancer now. They couldn't find anyone and I was still studying CS and therefore available. Finding clients on your own with that rate may be harder.

I think understanding supply and demand really important, as well as building trust with your client. Can you get the job done? If yes, then what's the going rate for any other freelancer and charge that.

With all that said, it is just one interview that I am quoting. It is also interesting to see such diversity in there!

[1] http://remotehabits.com/interview/interview-with-john-a-full...

Well advice from one of the freelance webdevs (http://remotehabits.com/interview/interview-with-john-a-full...) is to start to charging 10usd. He calls it reasonable pricing. I mean i live in quite poor country but 10usd is pretty hard wow. The great twist is that he works for YCombinator backed company as lead front-end dev. Way to go lol

Oh boy. Please no one take that advice of charging 10/hr. Remote does not at all justify making < minimum wage

Minimum wage where you are is perhaps somewhat higher than minimum wage in many other parts of the World.

More than 80% of the World's population lives on less than $10 per DAY. If you live in one of those areas, and you can make that per hour, you can have a good life.

What's more, you're never going to be short of work, because people are going to look at you and realise you are the same skill-wise as the guy wanting $1k/day in London, so why not save some money and everybody is happy - even the $1k/day guy is happy because they are working for a client who values the work at that more than the client thinking "wait, I could get this done for less than a tenth of the price".

Over time (perhaps quite quickly once you've proven you can work well with clients in the EU and US), you can raise your rates, of course, and that's awesome for everybody.

It's just wise to not automatically presume that 10/hr is a bad rate for that individual in that circumstance - there's enough work going around for all of us that we can deal with the low-balling etc. from other countries.

$10 is the DAILY minimum wage where I live. Surely someone without experience could use this as a starter salary without feeling bad.

How much do freelancers usually get in different countries/regions? Or on average in the US and Europe?

When I was still living in Finland (few months ago) the market rate was usually around 80-120 EUR/h => 90-140 USD/h.

I work remotely as a writer living in India. I charge the same rates as any writer living in the US. I haven't yet seen any client dispute my pricing.

I don't see why I should charge less for my skills just because of my geographical location.

Time zone can be somewhat of a filter if your client has a large team with daily standups.


Here in Denmark, the market rate is about 80-120 EUR/hour, so the same as Finland. I would speculate that across Scandinavia the rates are fairly similar.

I agree, but I do like to play devil's advocate here (just for a bit). Say you live in Thailand, what is wrong with making less? Or at least, a little less? You can still participate in the local economy.

Because you are demeaning yourself as a professional. Rate should be tied to the value of the work.

To put it another way, would you want to work with someone who values your abilities to be equivalent to a guy making French fries?

Completely agree with this - most freelancers I know and guests on podcasts I listen to regret charging too little to begin.

Its actually recurring advice here that the customers who pay you the least are the most demanding.

Even in business, charging less is a sticky problem. It's next to impossible to raise your rates with a client base you've built up without alienating many of them. Because you've charged so low, you can't afford to drop any of them yet. Unfortunately, a lot of business can be through referral and they talk about rates too.

It can leave you in a hole that's next to impossible to get out of.

I'm happy I played devil's advocate. I never knew this!

I'm happy I'm learning this right after my graduation.

Awesome :) congratulations re. graduation!

I understand your point, but in the end, isn’t it just market forces at work? I lived in Cambodia for two years, and I definitely charges a lot less than what I do now I’m back in Europe.

It made sense for me: with two weeks of work I could live comfortably for two or three months, and I still charged way below Western market rates, so I had no problems finding clients. And it allowed me to be picky about the type of work I would accept.

What’s not to like?

You need to think about your retirement savings which you might not want to spend in Cambodia. Also maybe you want to buy stuff that costs the same everywhere, like an iPhone or a new laptop that's not garbage quality.

I mean if it's necessary to compete in the market, maybe it makes sense to lower your rates. But as long as you can charge the appropriate rate, you should.

When you're charging less you're still earning the same amount of money for your client. So everything you charge less is you making them rich.

A bit less, sure. But I assume that most people need enough to support their family.

Oh come on, that is massively out of context. The guy pretty much says it’s his first job. Look at the picture, he’s a kid. Good on him, he’s making it work. He’ll put his rate up when he’s ready.

And until then, if he’s getting real work and charging less then you then watch your backs, eh? Don’t get complacent. Don’t take it for granted. And don’t be miserable self-righteous assholes here.

Yeah, at that point the lower rates account for the increased risk of hiring someone without experience. My first software job back in university was at McDonalds rates, but it paid off when, two years later, I was on (what was for the time and location) a decent entry-level professional salary while most of my classmates were unemployed due to the dotcom bust.

First year of college, I started working remotely for $5 an hour. Ten years later, at the same company, I’m still remote, making a decent six figures. It’s fine to start small.

Minimum wage here is on average $17 / hour, across all industries. I say average because there is no law about minimum wage here in Denmark, but unions are very strong and almost all employees are covered by a collective agreement, which dictates a minimum hourly salary.

It would be nice to have a way to separate full-time remote employees from consultants/freelancers and part-time remote contractors.

I feel as though the constraints and consequences are very different between the two.

Good suggestion, I've tried to tag Freelancers/Consultants where appropriate but this is something that can be improved—thanks!

Bandwidth Limit Exceeded

The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.

I am curious, what kind of provider is this and what kind of bandwidth limits could be burned through by a basic HTTPS website? I tried to do a reverse DNS but it only came up with a generic "com.remotehabits.in-addr.arpa"

I only ask this because even my very poor $2.50/mo server gets 500GB to 1TB of bandwidth allocated to it which is enough for millions of standard page loads.

Some whois sleuthing suggest a company called Conseev who operate a shared hosting service[1] with a 250MB bandwidth limit.

[1]: https://www.purespeedhosting.com/shared-hosting/

Is it not 250GB Data Transfer? That would be a lot more than 250MB. Still hard to guess how they would get over that limit.

Hah, yes, whoops. Hard to imagine blowing through 250GB of bandwidth via HN traffic in only a few hours.

Reason #2384 to keep your site lean...

Dang, hard to go far with that...

It's just a shared server, looks like I put too low of a bandwidth limit on it!

Rule #1 of remote work: never exceed your bandwidth.

Fixed, thanks for letting me know!

My experience after having fully remote jobs and onsite jobs in companies with satellite offices and other remote workers, as well as managing and hiring for a team that includes on-site and remote engineers, is that you are generally practicing all the same skills needed for working remotely even if you are based on-site. You have to fight through the distractions of the surrounding environment and practice self-discipline, you’ll have a video call option for every single meeting (and often even other in-office participants access the call by video rather than walking to the conference room), all “water cooler talk” is deliberately moved into a medium like Slack, other on-site people work from home often, even managers using video calls to talk about your yearly performance review.

I’m sure many people making the transition could still use a service like this for good advice.

But generally, on-site experience in many types of tech / ecommerce companies these days imparts so much of the identical skills used for remote work that you would find pretty much the sole difference is the utter bliss of not being in an open-plan office.

Similarly when hiring for remote or on-site roles, I find years of experience specifically working remotely plays no role. It does not make a candidate more or less likely to fit in a new remote role. And lack of prior remote experience rarely ever factors in even when hiring for a remote role.

In other words, most types of prior work experience already prepare you well to be a remote worker. There’s no special “being good at remote” skill that most on-site jobs fail to exercise, though some people might occasionally feel that they personally or idiosyncratically need more help with certain aspects, unrelated to what general job experience offers them.

It sounds like in your opinion “no open plan office” is the sole value of working remote? As I misunderstanding your comment?

My office does not have open plan offices. Some of us work remote about 20% of the time. But I think we all generally enjoy working on site too.

That has definitely been my experience from a worker’s point of view. People assessing costs, etc., might have other opinions.

The second-biggest benefit is not spending time on a commute. And if you have child care needs or other family arrangements to tend to, the flexibility offered being at home is a benefit.

But by far the biggest benefit is that it lets you get away from working in open-plan offices.

At one past employer that had a mix of on-site and remote workers, the company had an amazing policy of letting on-site employees work from home as often as they wanted, no questions asked.

During one especially difficult design and implementation phase for a certain project, I worked from home for three weeks straight, because otherwise it was literally impossible to get the work done with noise distractions and lack of private space to think and tinker while at the office.

Personally, I like working on-site (in private offices) most of all, but the downsides of open-plan arrangements are so severe that I’d practically use any other type of working arrangement, even being fully remote, if it allowed me to avoid an open-plan office.

I am getting a 509 Bandwith Exceeded error. The sites is still accesible via http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:jNN8m0q...

It seems like the cache link I previously pasted does not allow to click on deeper links on the site. Sorry. At least it helps to have a quick view to the content.

Hey guys, I saw a few people quoting my interview here and I appreciate the criticism and wanted to clear a few misconceptions is the word? up!

For reference: http://remotehabits.com/interview/interview-with-john-a-full...

When I say charge $10 USD that is what I started charging personally as I felt it gave me the most competitive edge as I was a recent graduate and JUST starting out. The minimum wage in Puerto Rico where I live is $7.50 so it definitely made sense to me and I'm the type of person who doesn't like overselling themselves or feeling like I'm being cocky/arrogant, plus I was starting out I barely knew anything haha. It's a personality thing you know. I am however by no means saying hey charge $10 USD to start out, that made sense to me and worked for me because I was a recent graduate, have no debts and no family to support. Someone with all these things to consider $10 USD would be DISMAL to even accept and I get that. What I was trying to convey above all is be reasonable with your pricing, charge something that for you recognizes your value and needs and ALSO Values your client and their needs if that makes sense!

Also someone mentioned me being a lead front-end dev at OpenSea which YES is backed by YCombinator but I wanted to clear up one thing which is I said main dev not lead front end dev as I have been with them from early on, that title belongs to the co-founders haha I'm sorry for that confusion and wanted to clear it up, I hate taking credit where credit is not due! I am/was the lead front-end dev for a startup called freshChefs in shanghai for their food delivery app though which was an AWESOME experience!

Finally, I have upped my rates considerably from my early days starting out and now usually charge $50/hr so I definitely climbed those up over time, I just started at a reasonable price that worked for me but in no ways mean works for or should be done by everyone.

Thanks guys! And I hope the article gave you some insights and it's crazy to see it somewhere like HackerNews!

PS: I'm actually 24 and that picture was from my graduation day back in 2015 because I abhor pictures, I still have a baby face though XD

If you're looking for folks to interview, I've been full-time remote for almost 5 years and have managed to do it quite successfully. I'd be happy to share thoughts.

Sure! Can you email brad@remotehabits.com and we can get something setup.

This is great website! I think we need more things like these to make it easier for people to learn how to work remotely. I have outlines some of comments in this video message I recorded for you: https://www.useloom.com/share/3e8262418d7c4f1187d3b92b037624...

The key difficulty for me is finding a remote job (from scratch) in a name brand company i.e listed on the NASDAQ.

A lot of major companies offer remote work, but why is that important? Are you using that as a proxy for salary?

How do you find them?

Are you based in the US? weworkremotely.com has worked well for me in the US

Shameless plug here, my side project https://www.mikesremotelist.com finds about 10-20 newly listed remote positions a day, they are not all US based, but the majority are.

Death by hugs, 509 bandwidth exceeded~

It was working but now I'm getting "Server Not Found" when I click the link.

I find the content very helpful. How do you plan to keep producing such good quality content in the long term? I've seen many Show HNs like this with meteoric launch getting abandoned after some months.

Bandwidth Limit Exceeded

I am looking for a remote developer role myself


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