1 – It’s Easy to Disappear
I mean this in a variety of ways. It’s easy for me to disappear into my work without thinking about it. Because there isn’t anyone else around chatting with me, leaving for lunch or going home for the day it’s easy to disappear into the work itself. Don’t let that happen! Make sure you take breaks and focus on your well-being.
It’s also easy to disappear from your coworkers. They don’t see you, so it’s easy for them to forget you exist. Unfortunately, this never seems to happen if you miss a deadline or they need something from you. It’s more like, “we didn’t tell you we hired a new guy?”, “you didn’t know she got promoted?”, “no one ever told you the office is moving?” It’s up to the remote employee to take the initiative and ask questions like “is there anything major going on in the office?” or “did I miss any announcements this week?”
It’s easy to let these things get to you. It’s easy to feel left out. Remind yourself – your co-workers are busy too! They’re not actively choosing to keep you out of the loop.
2 – You Have to Negotiate Your Schedule
I tried every method and found that schedule blocking works best for me. Working 7am – 5pm every day just didn’t work well. I know I’m more productive in the afternoon and at night regardless of when I go to sleep or wake up. So, I got permission to work those hours. My supervisor discovered that although it wasn’t ‘normal’ at first, allowing me to work during my peak performance times improved the quality of my work immensely.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate, but be prepared to explain your reasoning.
3 – You Need to Find Your Spot
I’ve tried it all. Working on the couch, visiting a coffee shop with my laptop, emailing from bed and so on. It didn’t take long for me to realize, that doesn’t work! You need a work space. The reason setting up a separate office area is best is because your brain trains itself to work there. If you work at your kitchen table then your brain will constantly think about work stuff while you’re trying to eat. On the other hand it’s hard to get work done when you eat your lunch in your work space.
4 – The Dress Code Matters
I don’t know the science behind it, but I can promise you that I see a difference in my performance and energy when I dress for my day versus working in my pajamas. I’m not saying you need to dress to the nines, but get ready for the day.
5 – The Perfect Playlist is Worth it’s Weight in Gold
This happens through trial and error. Case in point, I love Taylor Swift. However, when her music comes on I find myself lip-syncing (read: full on music video reenacting) and then I can’t focus on my work. I have a playlist that I try to refresh monthly. My playlist needs to be something that’s upbeat but not lyric heavy so that I don’t get caught up in the music. I can’t tell you how many times I have to re-write an email because otherwise it’d go out as “I wanted to review the proposal… he’s the reason for the teardrops on my guitar!”
In the end I think the most important takeaway is that working remotely can certainly be a perk. But it’s important to know adaptability is essential. Motivation and planning ahead will help ensure your success.
September is the month of transitions, especially on the college campus. Follow #SATransitions to read as the community reflects upon transition and change, personally and professionally. Have ideas about a future series for the Student Affairs Collective? Contact Nathan Victoria on Twitter at @NathanVictoria or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.