People think that working from a home office is a dream job but in reality it’s just as hard, if not harder, than working in a normal environment. I found this 5 Tips On Working Remotely From A Guy Who Works Reaaaally Remotely post and agree with most of it.
I spent a week at the main office a few months ago and came back refreshed and feeling like one of the team. There weren’t huge meetings or a team building experience. Just a pretty normal work week. Except with people in the same room.
I get used to controlling most disturbances in my home office. I can listen to music or have it completely silent. If my dogs bark, they get a time out in their crates. If I really need to focus, I can sign off iChat and ignore the rest of the world. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way in a real office so every little distraction is augmented for me. I feel so out of control – like a kid hyped up on sugar. Nothing gets done so I have to wake up early and work in my hotel room every morning in order to get things accomplished. But being there in person is completely worth it.
I try to get together regularly (monthly) with other people who work from home offices. We’ve gone to Panera with our laptops and work remotely there for the day or part of the day. It’s still pretty new but has already proven to be extremely beneficial. I’m not as productive remotely but the social aspect of this arrangement is very refreshing and motivating.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
This has been a huge issue for me in the past and I know it’s not perfect yet but overly communicating tends to help, at least for me. I try to document everything. I use Google Docs, Google Calendar, Wunderlist and a good old-fashioned notebook. As a team, we use Google+ Hangouts and iChat. I probably send more emails than necessary but I’ve found that emailing a “Thank you!” or “Got it!” response is better than not replying at all. But even with technology, sometimes there’s nothing better than a phone call.
Staying on a strict schedule is key for me. I have client meetings (calls), entire team calls, smaller team calls, individual calls, etc. Frequent short calls work much better for me than irregular long calls. If the call starts to last too long, I start multitasking instead of participating. A good speaker phone on the other end is important. I’ve also started using my Bluetooth headset as I have a hard time hearing on my cell. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to hear parts of the conversation.
This is my secret weapon. You don’t realize how much human interaction you miss by sitting alone in a home office for hours and hours each day. There’s a group for the company, a few professional groups for the industry, a group for the local community, a group of my closest friends, a group for my family, etc. Most of these are either closed or secret Facebook groups where your interactions (posts, comments, likes) aren’t publicized to all of your Facebook friends. This is how I stay sane.
In addition to working remotely for the day, taking regular breaks are essential. I typically start work at 8am and end around 6pm. There are days where I’m sitting in front of my laptop for hours at a time. I’ll get up to throw lunch in the microwave and then bring it back to my laptop to eat while I work. I’ll take the dogs out, sit back down in my office and then bring them back in. Taking breaks is a task that I, obviously, haven’t mastered yet but it’s on the top of my “must do” list. Maybe if I scheduled them in on my Google Calendar…
If you’re a remote employee or are self-employed, how do you maintain a healthy home office attitude?