I’ve worked remotely since I founded Aftermarket Intel. With the developments surrounding COVID-19 and the fact that more and more people are working from home, I thought it was a good time to talk about how I do things.
Here are several things I do to make working from home successful:
Get dressed. Really.
If your company has asked you to work remotely, forget the idea of working in your pajamas. That is a myth. You could work in your pajamas, but expect to get nothing done. Why? Because you’re not serious if you’re not getting ready for remote work just like you do before you commute.
Getting ready as if you’re headed into the office gears you up for the day. Do everything you normally do before work, except leave the keys hanging by the door or put away that subway pass. You won’t need it today.
Find a comfortable spot, but not too comfortable. But don’t forget to get up out of your chair and walk around a bit to keep the blood flowing. Build in structured breaks so you don’t burn yourself out.
Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you should work 24 hours a day. Naturally, since you’re not going to be commuting, you will have more time to work. I would use that to the best of your abilities. If you’ve just added an hour to your day by eliminating that round trip, you have a chance to get more actual work done.
Rid yourself of distractions
Turn the TV off. Turn off social media notifications (if it’s not part of your job.) For the time you’re working remotely, you won’t have co-workers hurriedly walking by your office door or cubicle as a visual reminder that you’re at work. So, it’s completely up to you to stay motivated and focused.
Plan your day
As I mentioned, working from home or telecommuting is not about sitting around in your slippers and pajamas. The secret to a successful telecommute is setting an agenda for the day, taking appropriate breaks and trying to stay out of the refrigerator. And make sure to get the height of your screen aligned with your eyes so you aren’t popping ibuprofen at the end of the day from a neckache.
Get your tech in order
You probably already have a company-issued laptop. Don’t install anything on the laptop that your IT administrator wouldn’t want you to. But when in doubt, ask. You’ll probably get denied but at least you tried to do it the right way in the first place! Chances are, your company already uses many time-saving communications and collaboration apps. You probably already have enough bandwidth in your home to do telecommuting if you routinely stream Netflix and Amazon Prime. For most people, having enough bandwidth will not be a problem.
Staying in touch
Check in with your colleagues and your boss from time to time but just because you’re working from home, don’t pepper them every second to let them know that you are, in fact, working. You’re a professional! You’ve probably been at this for a while.
Not only do I work from home routinely but also from hotel rooms at automotive shows around the world. So I have a lot of years under my belt having the discipline to sit down and do work while in large, exciting cities with tons of people milling about just outside my hotel room.
Use email scheduling
Make use of email scheduling that many email providers now offer. (This is actually good advice for anytime!) Gmail, for example, offers the ability to set the send time of an email. This is especially helpful when communicating with people in different time zones. Schedule the email to go out to someone in the appropriate time for their time zone. For example, if you have to communicate with somebody in your Shanghai office, make sure you understand the difference between your local time in their local time and schedule the email for a good time for them. It will increase the likelihood that they’ll see the email in the first place, rather than missing that 11:30 p.m. email from the night before.
While I haven’t presented an exhaustive list, it’s a start. After all, things will surely get back to normal soon.
Until then, get to work!
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