Inside the Mind of a Remote Employee


Are you transitioning from working in an office to working remote?

It definitely takes adjustment and discipline to work remotely, but honestly even though I am a social person who likes building strong relationships in person, I have to say I love it. 

At the beginning I found transitioning difficult.  Like many others, I have had a substantial amount of time working in an office (over a decade). As one would expect I had some trepidation but after accepting an offer from ZOOM, the work life here was a perfect fit. Here are some tips I learned along the way to help with the transition, stay focused, remove feelings of isolation etc. 

1. A dedicated space with a door is a requirement.   We have animals, my spouse sometimes works remotely and being able to lock myself away is critical to achieve focus or silence when I need it.  Yes noise cancelling headphones are good but a closed door provides some subconscious barrier to distractions for me. I tried the living room and dining room but both just did not work for me. 

2. Stand up often.  At first that meant getting up every hour or so and moving around.  At home with nobody else walking up to you it is easy to just sit for 8-9 hours straight with minimal breaks which is unhealthy for your body and your mind.   Of course now I have a stand up desk (love my bamboo Jarvis) and that helps immensely.

3. Go outside.   Go get the mail, talk a short walk with the dog, sit on your porch, veranda or in your backyard if you have one.  This one is critical for clearing my head. I get the mail everyday…I sit on the porch sometimes just for a change of scenery and fresh air. 

4. Run errands or exercise.  People who work in an office do these things too.  Schedule them and do them during the day to clear your head, foster creativity or solve complex problems.  When the world isn't experiencing a pandemic I go to our grocery store around lunch time nearly every day.  I get something simple for lunch or dinner, or sometimes I will just go wash my car to take a mental break.

5. Video conferencing is so much better now so use it.  We use Slack and Webex, it means I need to be semi presentable which helps establish boundaries between work and non-work times. I don't wear a collar to the gym but I usually do for video meetings.  Something about wearing work clothes helps you feel like it is time to work.  

6. Use quiet time to ideate.  Sometimes you need music and sometimes you need quiet.  Choose moments of silence to foster creative thought.

7. When you travel to other colleagues maximize the time with relationship building above work. You can work when you get back remote. Spend time fostering trust and camaraderie whenever possible. Don't skip out on happy hours or dinners and feel free to break from work during the day or you will wear yourself out.  Try this with video also.. Make certain to have some small talk and build relationship. 

8. Pick your animals wisely.  Some animals are quiet and low maintenance and others require attention on their schedule or just make noise all the time.  Yes children at home can be a distraction as well.  Luckily mine are grown so not an issue, but I remember knocks at the door and loud crashes 10 years ago.  Remember to get outside, take the kids with you to release energy if you can.  This is partly why #1 is so critical.  A door can change everything. 

9. Motivate yourself.  This means different things to different people. I like watching a Ted Talk or reading an article to get my brain going with my coffee before I start working. Routine is important. Replace your at work routine with a work friendly remote one ASAP. 

10. Find and use good visualization tools.  Pictures convey more than words.  Instead of a giant email, sent a picture, drawing or diagram with some description to make it easier for people to digest.  Being concise is critical when working remote, and text by itself can be misconstrued so know that and enhance text/email communication whenever possible.   I like Gliffy, Visio, PPT and Draw,IO for visualizations. 

Everyone is different but these work for me. Happy Remote-ing!

Message me on linked in with new tips you have found:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/barryw/

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