My current role provides me a lot of autonomy to work from where I need to be at that time. If I’m taking a business trip abroad, I can get the same amount of work done there as I can from the head office, or my office at home. I understand that not everyone has this same luxury, but many are now facing the realities of working remotely due to the outbreak of COVID 19.
One (or is it two already?) week into full-time remote work and even those of 'Work from Home' veterans are adjusting to the new reality. So if you're new to this lifestyle, hopefully some of the things I've learned can help!
Heads-up: I have seen a lot of these lists and some of them contain the same things I will mention below, but I will put my own spin on things.
#1 – Know your personality
By now almost everyone has heard these two terms, introverted and extroverted. The Myers & Briggs Foundation warns us not to confuse introversion with shyness or reclusiveness, but instead introversion and extroversion are about energy. Where do we get our energy and where we direct it?
I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I'm excited when I'm around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.
I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I'll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.
I always knew that I was an extroverted person, but I was never aware of how much energy I get from simple interactions. For me, the ability to think things through with a team out loud, say simple “good mornings” and “good afternoons” or take lunch with a teammate gave me energy and played to my personality. I was not aware how much lower my energy level would be when I switched to working remotely a few years ago.
In order to combat my lower energy levels, I implemented a few changes:
- Waking up early to spend more time with my partner before she left for work
- More phone calls with co-workers, followed by a summary e-mail
- Coffee at lunch with mentors, colleagues, peers and scheduled workouts with a partner or group
#2- Have a separate space
Lucky for me, I have always had a separate home office area within my house, but before I started working from home it was full of personal items. In order to properly connect to my work, I had to do a small purge of the items in my office.
What did I say goodbye to?
- Guitar (I couldn’t move the piano, it stayed… but as more of a bookshelf)
- iPad I use for Netflix 99.9% of the time
- TV & PlayStation
- General clutter (paper, bills, government documents, flyers, magazines, etc.)
What did I leave?
- Notebooks, pens and paper
- Keyboard, mouse, headphones and secondary monitor
- Plant (named Marjorie)
- Books on piano
My office is where I go almost exclusively to do work, the only things I have in there are the things I would normally leave at a head office. Things that I don’t use or need in my personal life, and that are dedicated to this space.
Ideally if you work in sales this will be a room that has a door and four walls, but if that isn’t the case invest in a nice headset and headphones.
#3 – Stick to a routine
I, like many, took the advice of William McRaven, US Navy Admiral very seriously, about making your bed in the morning. I know it may sound crazy, but this simple switch changed the trajectory of my life (hyperbole). Routine for me is key and my morning routine is very important. What are my tips:
- Wake up at the same time everyday regardless of what you’re doing.
- ALWAYS MAKE YOUR BED (watch video linked above to see why)
- Shower and get dressed as if you are going to the office
- Getting dressed puts you in the right mindset.
- If you get invited out for a meeting or coffee, you won’t have to take time to do it during your workday. (This might not be quite as relative right now)
- This is important for a few reasons:
- Don’t start working until you finish your normal morning routine which could include coffee, breakfast, workout, etc. You don’t want to interrupt your workday to do something you wouldn’t normally do at the office.
- Keep doing the things you love to do after work, don’t skip out on things because you’re working from home (i.e. gym, yoga, art, social events, etc.)
#4 – Talk to the people you live with
Your moods and energy levels may change when you change your working environment so be sure to keep your wife, husband, kids, partner and roommates in the loop. If you are full of energy come 5:00 pm and your partner comes home exhausted and ready to sink into the couch, make sure you have a plan for that.
Make sure your kids know that your work area is a separate environment and whether or not there is an open-door policy.
The people around you may not realize that just because you are working from the house does not mean you will be spending the time doing house related chores. Groceries, laundry or cleaning may get squeezed in during a lunch break, but it’s not something you should make a habit of doing and can’t be expected to.
I hope that some of this was useful and I invite you to reach out to me if you are transitioning or have other tips about working remotely.
As Director of Business Development for iTacit, Nathan leads global business efforts for the entire suite of products, connecting, educating and engaging employees at all stages of the work cycle.