How to make working remotely work for you
In the first blog post of this two-part series we discussed the benefits we have noticed with CS2 being a fully remote agency. In this post we address one of the primary factors we think block many people from being allowed the chance to realize these benefits.
Far too often we hear a few variations of a common statement which is disastrous for the advancement of remote working: “I can’t work from home I get too distracted/unmotivated." As soon as employers/customers/team members hear this and think they need to make sure they observe work happening, you can kiss remote working goodbye.
Whenever I hear someone say they can’t work from home I wonder if there is a bigger issue at play. Are they distracted in the office as well? Are they lacking motivation? Are they unorganized? Or have they not learned how to be effective outside of an office setting?
If it's the latter, they likely just need to instill a few tried and tested habits to improve their remote working capabilities, here are a few we have found work well:
1. Solid routine
Since solidifying my morning routine it has revolutionized my working day. Here is what works for me:
Make bed (this Navy SEAL believes it's important)
Exercise (preferably not in your home so you can get out and interact with people)
Walk dog for some fresh air and to de-stress
Make coffee & breakfast
In work zone/mode between 8-9am
Probably the most important part of this for me is moving, the more you can move/exercise before starting work the better you'll feel, then all you have to do when you start work is maintain the momentum.
2. Get dressed and GET TO a working space
Everyone has heard the story of the employee who takes work calls in their underwear. Don’t be that person. Not only because it is weird, but wearing clothes will make you feel more like you are “at work.” You don't have to wear a suit but get presentable.
Also, don't work from the couch or bed. It is tempting but they are for relaxing not working. Go to a desk, preferably one where you can stand and sit. You can find a good inexpensive sit/stand desk at Ikea (I am typing from this desk right now).
3. Go outside before, during and after work
Fresh air, seeing other people, moving and getting out the house will make you feel less like you are a cave dwelling hermit. The fresh air and moving will wake you up, make you more alert and when you return home it is like you just arrived at work and you get in work-mode. Getting out during the day will break up your day and help you get over any mid-day tiredness, then getting out after work will transition you from work to relaxation time.
Top Tip! We love dogs at CS2 for many, many reasons but they can also really benefit the remote worker. A dog forces you to leave your home multiple times a day and take a walk, which is not a bad interruption but a very positive one.
A 20-minute walk increases blood flow to the brain which can boosts creative thoughts. Regular walks (like walking a dog a few times a day) enhances cognitive performance, fights against age-related declines in brain function, improves memory and connectivity of brain circuits.
4. Make use of your extra time not commuting
Think of all the people sitting in traffic every day, don’t just laze around -make use of that time. Many people recommend starting the day with your hardest and most important task, take advantage of everyone else commuting and not bothering you and get a head start. Or, see Crissy’s and Christie’s blog post for other ideas.
5. Dedicated work zone/times
Make sure your environment is conducive for working and make sure you only have two settings - work mode and non-work mode. Blurring the two leaves you with the worst of both worlds. You are not getting anything done, but you are also not relaxing as much as you could be.
There are also a ton of technologies which help facilitate working from home, but I believe your approach to your day far outweighs which fancy tool you use to communicate. So to help this trend move forward and to build trust so you can realize the benefits we need to stop saying “I can’t work from home I get too distracted/I can’t stay motivated” and start setting up our days to outperform our office working-self. If you have any tips we would love to hear them!