No Office? No Problem!
It sounds cliche, but just as home is where the heart is…work can be where your head is. Being someone that worked remote the majority of the last 4 years, I can tell you that it works. Sure things are a bit harder to adjust to, or take a bit longer to master, but it starts with your mindset. You must truly believe that work can happen outside of your designated office space. If you can get that far, here are some tips to help you adjust, without missing a step in performance.
Designate a Proper Location
I know, I know, you’re thinking “that’s exactly what the office is for.” Sure, but what if it didn’t exist? You’d create your own mini office right? Even if you worked from a coffee shop, you’d set your things up to provide maximum efficiency. When working for an extended period (or routined period) of time from home, it’s best practice to have a dedicated work space. Make it work for you. If your job duties rely on large excel sheets and details, you’ll benefit from a monitor. If you type a lot…get a keyboard. Only you know what will make your duties performed well, it’s your responsibility to get there.
Make this location separate from your living space. If you really want to focus on work (and your fun time), your brain will do better separating the two. It’s nice to be accessible to things like the kitchen (no one said this needs to be a punishment), but you don’t want them as a distraction.
Lighting makes a huge impact. You take for granted corporate lighting. When you’re up before the sun, or working late…you can’t only have your screen’s light. Pro tip, try to get some light from in front of you for video calls, it’ll show better.
It’s 2020, there are no excuses, just roadblocks. Luckily, we’re all in the same boat. That client that prefers face to face meetings, will now rely on video conferencing. Once you get the hang of it, it’s actually not that bad!
Practice your technology prior to the event. How do you look on screen? How does your document show in sharing? Is the Audio okay? Do I have background noise? Use headphones. Imagine you were having an interview over the camera, would you be okay with it?
One of the hardest parts of virtual meetings is, who speaks? I’ve learned that taking a bit to plan the meeting before the meeting helps tremendously. Also, knowing your role in the meeting. If you’re leading the meeting, have an agenda and flow in mind. If you’re participating, allow others to lead. You’ll find natural flows and rhythms, where you can politely interrupt or use the chat functions to monitor dictation periods (this is MUCH easier when you can see everyone’s faces and arms)!
Lack of Connection
One of the best perks of the office is seeing people. Feeding off the energy of others, collaborating, and enjoying your time at work. Working remotely, you do miss a lot of that. However, you can gain some connection back!
Using your camera has been by far the most beneficial thing for me. Besides reading body language and faces, it allows you to remember that you’re not alone…nor a machine.
From there, take it a step further. Allow yourself some time to connect with a person. Bring your casual icebreakers to your technology, have fun with it. Just because there is no “water cooler” on the internet doesn’t mean the chatter can’t exist.
Take it a step further. Schedule coffee over VC, even a HH. Your dogs can finally meet!
The most important thing I’ve learned is that you need to have the proper attitude. Even though working remotely is something of the norm today, it’s hard to not think “out of sight, out of mind.” Instead of seeing this as a time to retreat, lean in. Take advantage of the extra time with no commute or prep. How many meetings have you been late to because they run over and the room is 5 mins away? Remotely, not an issue! Use that time to come to meetings prepared, isolate yourself when you need full concentration, and be more strategic with your networking.
Long Term Success
Set a routine and schedule (allow yourself to “arrive” and “leave” work)
Keep a morning routine
Stop to eat
Set expectations with others- This is actually a big one. Sure if you WFH, you can change your schedule to make all facets of your life work. However, that’s for you and your team to decide, not external partners.
Over communicate, to be seen and to be heard (chat status, in meetings, emails, calls)
Focus on the big picture- Don’t get lost in isolation. Your efforts still matter, even if only you can see them.
Enjoy how quickly you can turn work on and off
Seeing is still believing- Screenshots, recorded videos, keeping an open VC line to drop into on the spot are all valuable. When you used to “pop on over to a desk,” you’ll need to “pop on over into their screen.” Don’t waste your time trying to describe what you don’t have words for, show it.