There has been a continual drive towards remote work in the tech industry - commutes are awful, interruptions suck, and open office layouts are the actual worst. The remote lifestyle seems glamorous and appealing, and as a woman I sure love a thermostat set for MY body (amIright, ladies?), but there are considerations for whether remote working is a good fit for everyone. After all, there are no snow days when you work remote.
If you're new to the remote work life, here are some survival strategies for staying productive, happy, and fresh-smelling.
BOUNDARY - MAINTAIN OFFICE HOURS
Start and end your day at consistent times. At the end of the workday---leave your damn desk! Even if you’re going to continue being on the computer, move to a separate space to maintain the boundary between work and life.
BOUNDARY - TAKE A LUNCH BREAK
Eat your food, walk the dog, hit the gym, browse Reddit---breaks are good! Just make sure you schedule your breaks like you would taking a lunch break at an on-site job.
BOUNDARY - EXPLAIN BOUNDARIES TO FAMILY/FRIENDS
For some odd reason, when you work from home, your friends and family seem to assume that means you’re not “really” working and are available for everything from taking the kids to the park to helping move furniture. Having conversations about the realities of your work schedule is crucial to helping those in your life understand that even though you’re home, you’re actually working and can’t be interrupted.
Visual cues are very helpful in maintaining boundaries in your home. Ideally, have a separate office with a door that closes. If you can’t be in a separate room, use a light or “I’m working now” sign as a visual cue to help those in your home understand you’re not to be disturbed. Unless they’re a cat, in which case you exist solely to do their bidding. For the times that those in your life forget or ignore you’re working, it can be helpful to come up with a code phrase to say instead of an impulse to snap and cause hurt feelings.
## Strategy 2 - Avoid Remote Traps
TRAP - NOT SHOWERING
Shower. Every. Day.
They say dress for the job you want, you don’t want to be a smelly shut-in, do you? It can be easy to let hygiene habits slide when your bad hair can be hidden by that privacy cover on your laptop camera, but it’s a dangerous productivity hole to fall into. Just like a messy desk, a messy body isn’t optimal for doing your best work. Being clean and looking good gives a confidence boost that is much more than just at the surface level. The Sims had clean = happy right, and various studies show showers help alleviation depression, increase energy, and even lead to better sleep.
TRAP - DOING CHORES
Don’t do chores during your office hours. Chores will suck your work hours and corrupt your attention span. You can’t properly focus on your work if you’re watching to clock to change a load of laundry or trying to clean the bathroom while listening to a meeting via headphones. (This doesn’t mean don’t do chores ever, you better be sharing household management duties with your partner!)
TRAP - SLACK, SOCIAL MEDIA, AND OTHER DISTRACTIONS
If you often struggle with staying focused and find yourself wandering into internetbrowsingland while your code compiles, turn your browser into a concentration fortress with these website blockers and tools:
Momentum is a a browser extension that shows a custom dashboard with a scenic photo when you open a new tab. I find myself almost habitually opening a new tab and typing “twitt” when my mind starts to drift, so when the momentum dashboard launches it’s a nice visual reminder to get my sh*t together and get back to work.
See the rest of my working remote tools & tips on the blog at Bitovi.com.
( cover photo illustration by Tyler Feder, if you work from home you know it's true.)