I’ve worked from home for over two decades. Occasionally I long for a physical office, but mostly, I’m delighted with my remote/virtual working environment.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way:
Work on a Regular Schedule
In the past six weeks, we’ve seen much written on this topic, so I won’t belabor the issue. It’s easy to assume you can set your own schedule and say, work evenings when the kids are in bed, or other distractions can be eliminated or reduced. Whether you’re an employee, a contract worker, or self-employed, your clients and your team depend on you. It’s important to maintain a schedule when others can reasonably expect to reach you.
I live and work in Southern California, and often I am 3 hours or more behind my clients and co-workers. Early in my legal tech career, I realized that If I didn’t
start my day until 8:30 or 9:00 AM in my time zone, it was midday on the East Coast and end-of-day in the UK. Customers/clients don’t appreciate having to wait for me to get around to coming to work. I start early (and when I can, end my day early) to accommodate others and complete work during a reasonable work schedule.
Invest in Technology
Use technology to your advantage. For example, a scheduling app (with an embedded link in your email signature) makes it easy for clients and prospects to book a meeting quickly on your calendar. Take an extra minute to customize your invite(s) with your Zoom meeting link, and you’ve streamlined the entire process. Calendly is a good and inexpensive option. At LTMG, we use HubSpot Meetings because we can create team calendar links that search and display available times for multiple members, and all meeting information is automatically tracked in our HubSpot CRM.
Expect Others to Think About You
I learned early on when ‘you’re out of sight; you’re out of mind’. Many of us will continue to work remotely after the pandemic lock-down has passed, and staying top-of-mind is essential. Regardless of whether you are working for a company or clients/customers, the burden is on you to remain relevant. This is particularly true if you are the only remote member of your team. You can’t expect a group to think about you…unless you find a way to stay in front of them.
Worry about the Dog Barking
By now, we’ve all become more used to working remotely with one another, and that work-from-home environment often includes barking dogs, ringing doorbells, and other interruptions. I think we’ve all developed a greater tolerance, so do what you can to minimize external noise, but don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Forget to Set Boundaries with Your Family
Many of us are learning for the first time about working remotely and the distractions of having your family at home creates a greater challenge. Even though I don’t have children in the house, my husband retired ten years ago, and most days, he is around much of the time. When my office door is closed, he knows I’m at work, and unless something important comes up, he leaves me alone. Creating a dedicated space that is your office is not always convenient, but try to find a spot where you can work efficiently, and let your family or roommates know that when you are in that space, you are for all intents and purposes ‘off-limits’.
Like you, I can’t wait until this enforced ‘stay-at-home’ condition ends. It won’t significantly impact my personal work style, but it will be nice to know I can go out when and where I chose.
Until that time, stay safe!