Virtual Work = Real Work, Except with More Distractions!

COVID-19 will surely be one of the greatest disruptors to the global economy this decade, and is certainly impacting billions of people in a myriad of unique ways. One of the most common disruptors that people are experiencing is remote work: They must figure out a way to balance work life and home life in the same space. Fear not, there are many perks along with the pitfalls of working from home! 

The Sprious team is no exception to the difficulties imposed by working remotely, but we are all working together to find ways to stay engaged and working at optimum efficiency. Here are some tips that I have found to be of use over the years:

  1. Designate a work area and stick to it – Consistency is key here. Find a spot that can be yours, whether that is a separate office, a desk in the living area, or a board across some filing cabinets (this was me for a period of years a while back). I do not recommend carrying your laptop to the bedroom, kitchen, or god forbid, the bathroom. Nothing is that important.
  2. Maintain your morning routine – You likely have some sort of regular rhythm to your day. The only thing that is changing now is that you don’t have to commute. I start my day about two hours before actually starting to work, and it is important to me that I still get up, work out, shower/dress, eat breakfast, and read a book…before I ever touch my phone or look at my laptop. It is my time and I protect it. Now that I am not driving to the office (saving 30 minutes), I can simply walk to my desk once ready and begin work.
  3. Dress like you mean it – It sounds silly, but when you are dressing for success you are more likely to be successful. Do I sometimes work in my pajamas? You’d better believe it. But it is the exception, and not the rule. I have found that I feel better, remain more alert, and am more likely to get things done if I dress the same at home as I do for work. Showered, clean-shaven, and clean clothes just make me feel good, darn it. Try it for yourself and see if it doesn’t make a difference.
  4. Close the door (if you have one) – I am fortunate(?) to have four children who are also quarantined at home right now. We have firmly established rules in my house, and the kids know that if my door is shut they need to stay out because Daddy is working. Does that work 100% of the time? Seriously, they are kids, so of course the answer is no! But we do what we can. Whether you have children yourself, or a dog, a gerbil, mother-in-law, whatever…have an honest conversation with them and establish some ground rules. Be flexible, but firm. This is for your own sanity and productivity, so take it seriously.
  5. Get outside (or at least get some Vitamin D) – Having spent the first decade of my career working in basements or the interior windowless rooms of dank, depressing government buildings, I endorse any activity you can undertake to get some natural sunlight. Getting outside right now, given the lockdowns, is perhaps not a great option – at least open up some curtains and get some natural daylight streaming into your house or apartment. Try to adopt a green plant of some sort too.
  6. Establish boundaries for yourself – One of the biggest things that I struggle with working at home is that, well, work is literally not very far away. It is far too easy to find yourself back at the computer again, even when you really should be focusing your time and energy on something for your personal health and well-being, or with your family. Keep in mind that your family must come first, and it does nobody any good to try and do two things at the same time. Trouble ensues when you attempt to attend to both a screaming child and an important phone call, for example.
  7. Radio silence sucks – When you are working virtually, you cannot see what other people are doing and they cannot see what you are doing. Don’t turn into a hermit – go above and beyond to connect with your team, whether that is through Slack, a text message, or a video chat. Do be proactive – let people know what you are doing, connect with them for any reason you can think of. We are all in it together, and there is no such thing as too much communication.

 

I originally posted this to our company’s internal Slack channel to share what works for me. I encourage others to do something similar, as it spawned a series of threads to discuss other ideas as well – which is but one more form of engagement while we are all remote!  Best of luck with whatever you are doing today – Be safe!

Derek

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