Finding productivity and balance through remote working

Like most things, working remotely is double edged sword. We can enjoy the good and mitigate the constraints if we know what they are, so let me share my experiences in this space.

Enjoying the good
  • Time to focus – greater productivity with less disruption
  • Less time commuting, with cost savings. Including no parking hassles
  • Greater flexibility around juggling personal commitments
Mitigating the constraints
  • Less collaboration/Isolation
    • Some of us are people-people, so working remotely might be hard for some. Not being in the same office as your colleagues means you need to make effort to connect. Arrange a meeting before you all dispurse to discuss and openly share thoughts on how to best connect virtually.
    • If you have key people you need regular contact with, setup a 30min call once a week – to keep both them and yourselves in the loop with developments
    • If working with new people, and assuming appropriate, arrange a 1-1 meeting for coffee to meet each other first. This helps build relationships a lot faster when compared to purely virtual connections.
    • Please connect with your Manager on a regular basis (in person or virtual). They are always happy to chat, no matter whether it’s just to say “Hi”.
  • Emails tend to increase
    • Please don’t increase the level of email comms. We already deal with too much of this.
    • Instant Messaging/Presence/Teams type tools are ideal for small frequent chats.
    • Make use of video/audio calls when required.
    • Keep an open mind with regard to interpreting messages. The intention and emotions behind black text on a white screen can be easily misinterpreted. If in doubt, don’t reply, make a phone call.
  • Understanding progress
    • Its hard to know how well things are going with our work without sitting beside our colleagues.
    • I suggest having a 15min daily virtual check-in/standup, where people can report what they did that day, what they are working on tomorrow, and what impediments they are facing;
      • Schedule for the same time, each day. People like routine.
      • It is our duty as colleagues to help out each other out with these impediments.
      • Please remember that this is a report, not an indepth discussion. Avoid the temptation to delve into detailed discussions on a particular topic, because it might not be relevant to everybody on the call. Take these points offline.
      • Plus, its just nice to stay connected with people on a regular basis,
  • The battle of Work vs Home
    • I recommend setting yourself up a dedicated space which you call your ‘work area’. This helps keep the mental separation between work life and home life. It also helps any other family members know when you are working and when you are not.
    • At minimum please seek to have a good chair, desk, keyboard, mouse, with dual monitors. Working on the kitchen bench from a laptop gets challenging very quickly.
    • Get yourself a desk plant, and water it. It will make you happy.
    • Remember to take breaks, have lunch away from your desk, and switch off at the end of the day. Enjoy the sun when you can.

I hope you’ve found these thoughts above useful, let me know if you have other ideas! Best of luck with your remote working.

Mike Roberts.