In light of the actions many companies are taking around COVID-19, I want to highlight a few things that have helped me be successful as a remote employee. Let me start with this: I have been a remote employee for the last decade of my career. I love it. It’s flexible. It’s challenging. It’s tiring. It’s rewarding.
Let’s first talk about challenges. Whether your office is in your home, at your local coffee shop, or at a shared workplace, the hurdles that remote employees face are the same. How do you stay focused? How do you deal with distractions? How do you stay motivated? How do you show “progress” in your work? How do you keep your morale up when you are “alone” day after day?
Challenges are present whether you are an office employee or a remote one. How you embrace these challenges set you apart. Here are my top five tips for WFH (working from home):
Disclosure: Every company is different in what they expect, and how they embrace and interact with their remote workforce, so please be sure to ask your leaders how to best work with them.
- Find your work space. While “working from home” has its perks — like working from home! — it also has its downfalls (hello, sofa!). Sofas are comfortable and great for watching TV and lounging at the end of a busy day. Is it the best and most conducive place for you to get your best work done? It may be! It may not be. Take a look at your surroundings and find the place that will inspire your best work.
- Schedule your day. Just as if you were in the office, block your calendar. Utilize it to keep you on track of your tasks.
- Project manage. You and you alone are responsible for your day, and how you manage your time. How you do so will be critical. What tools are you using to help you stay organized? How are you going to most effectively using your time?
- Get on the phone/video call with your colleagues. Don’t chat about work. Just talk! Office employees have this at their fingertips. Remote employees have to give a little extra to get a little extra interaction. These small moments of connecting with your colleagues can really help keep you grounded to your role, to your responsibilities, and to your company.
- Be responsive. Your teammates can’t see you. They can’t come find you at your desk, or at the coffee machine, if they need you. Make yourself available — be it via email, Slack/Skype/etc, or phone. Small caveat. Do not fall into the trap of always being available. You have a life, your family, your personal obligations. Working remotely does not mean “working always”.
As I reflect back on the last decade of my career, working from my dining room table in a condo in the San Francisco Bay Area, I find few things more rewarding. Being a remote employee has its challenges, but those challenges have made me a stronger and a more effective employee. It allows me to balance my life commitments and my career.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to bounce some ideas off me. I’m happy to help out how I can!