So lately, I’ve been chatting with people who also work from home.
If you are new around here or wonder what my story is, here is a short post where I was interviewed by Microsoft Jobs Blog about how I got my current job (at Yammer, not Microsoft). And there is a Yammer group for us Remote workers, and its odd because you’d think we would want to talk to each other and sometimes we do share articles and tips, but if we don’t work together day in and day out, its not a very active group but we were sharing some tips today to spark this post. (Maybe I’ll write about how to use Yammer as a remote worker, because its helped me feel connected!)
So since working remotely now for 2ish years (and I love it.) I have learned a few things about how it works for me.
- Get Active! If I am at home I always try and work out in the morning or at least get outside for at least walk before I stare at the computer all day inside. This helps get some fresh air. And when its nice out I can do a quick walk at lunch if I want to.
- Create a space you actually want to be in! I have a standing desk that helps (and sometimes when I am lazy I just sit at my kitchen table, but I try not to..). I have decorated my office like as a place I want to spend time in. Its not perfect and something I want to re-design but I enjoy spending time here. I have a love seat too that I can go to sit in something more comfortable and I love my bookshelf of REAL books. I just gave a bunch away because I had too many…
- Take a break from the screen for lunch or snack. Or you will forget to eat. I have done this. (I have also burned through an entire teapot full of water because I didn’t hear it…another story for another time). Don’t be afraid to walk away from your computer for 30 minutes for lunch and sit outside and read or something not electronic for a few minutes just to break the day up. This was hard for me at the beginning because I was like WHAT IF I MISSED SOMETHING!! But I realized that with technology, I can catch up pretty quickly if needed and get to it when I can.
- Schedule. I like to try and schedule calls in the morning and then use the afternoon to crank through content, review things and catch up on Yammer. It doesn’t always work like that, but when I can create the time of uninterrupted silence, it helps me zone in and focus and bust through the content I’ve needed to get through without distractions. And there are always distractions if you are remote or not! Finally, I try and catch up on Fridays for mundane tasks like T&E so it doesn’t catch me by surprise at the end of the month or something.
- See people! Like literally, in person and use Video when you can (no makeup required!). When I can, I try to go to the local office if there is an event or when I need to meet a customer but I don’t go in regularly (mostly because the traffic is horrible and I don’t like to drive). And I haven’t ventured into the co-working spaces yet but its on my list for this next year! I don’t often go to a coffee shop to work, but I know people who do. Because I travel often I like being at home in between (helps to throw a load of laundry too). And when you can, travel as much as you can to see your team in person! It helps build the relationships to make it better when you are back at home.
- End your day! Have a stopping time for the end of the day. Otherwise you just work and work and work. (or get sucked into Yammer networks in my case, I could spend hours reading everything…) I really struggled with this when I first started working from home. My husband would come home from work, and I would just work and and work and work (and forget to eat!). So, now I try and set expectations letting him know I’ll be done in 30 minutes and not to bug me until then and then come and grab me away from the computer… It doesn’t always work but its a good practice!
- Bonus tip… Create a THIS WEEK List instead! On Monday’s I like to make a list of “THIS WEEK” of things I need to take care of and finish and work through that list during the week, instead of a daily TO DO list. This helps me focus on what needs done now (urgency vs important) and what things I can work on in the next week.
With using Yammer and other technology like video conference and Twitter, I feel connected to people and to what’s happening. Sometimes you miss the “life” things that happen in your co-workers lives but I just have to be more intentional about getting and keeping in touch with them. And schedule time to catch up. Its good and worth it!
So, what tips do you have for working at home?