It hit me the other day that I've been working full-time remotely for more than a decade now. This is actually my 11th year! To those who are thinking of working remotely or perhaps those who are new to it, I thought I'd share some thoughts on how I've made it work...
People always comment to me that if they worked from home, they'd just watch TV all day and not get any work done. "How do you do it?" they ask. My answer: I get my work done because I actually like working. I like the people I work with and the job that I get to do, so I work just as hard (maybe even harder) because I want to do it.
If that seems too simple, it's because it is. If you struggle to be interested in your job while someone is watching over you in an office, how do you expect to do it when no one is watching you while at home? So, find a job that you enjoy doing. For those who think that there's no job they'd actually enjoy, then find a team that you enjoy working with. You'd be surprised how much work you'll do when people you like are counting on you to do it.
One of the best things about working from home is all the time I save because I don't have a commute. While most spend an hour+ in a car every morning, I get to sleep in... and I almost always do! This means I'm a little more rested before I start working. If you're the kind of person who would wake up early regardless of a commute, spend that extra time doing something fun: Catch up on a TV show. Go for a walk. Make a really delicious breakfast and then actually sit and enjoy it.
And remember: You also have free time at the end of your day while most are driving home!
"Try" being the operative word here because this is something I still struggle with. If I'm not careful, I'll often find myself staring at my computer screen all day in complete silence. This can make me feel tired even if I'm well rested, leading to lack of focus or slowed-down productivity. To help with this, I play music while I work. I prefer film scores or stuff without lyrics, which I play it at a low volume so it's just background noise-- similar to the buzz of co-worker conversations across an office. I also have a tv set up on my desk that plays movies on mute. I position the tv so it's in my periphery, which results in my brain constantly processing movement-- similar to co-workers walking by if I were in an actual office.
This is the main thing people struggle with when working remotely, and why it's the longest section of this post.
It's really easy to become isolated and feel lonely when you work remotely. Many combat this by joining a co-working space a few days a week, but for an introvert like me who actually enjoys being physically alone while I work (with the exception of my dog), what can I do? Well, I socialize virtually. Regularly and a lot.
My team and I are super active on Slack and talk just as much as we would if were sitting side-by-side in an office. Here's what I do personally to combat isolation:
At the start of my day: When I start my day, I say hello to my co-workers and ask how things have been going. This helps in a few ways:
Throughout the day: My team and I continue to chat through the entire day, including video chats.
We also let each other know when we're stepping away (if it's for more than just a coffee or bathroom break) and for about how long.
At any given time in the day, I know exactly what my teammates are working on, where they are, and how they feel. It's really tough to feel alone when you're genuinely connecting with people on a daily basis-- even if just virtually.
Now it's your turn: If you work remotely, what do you struggle with and how do you work through those things? Any tips you'd like to share? I'd love to hear about your own experiences!
Learning to Not Feel Guilty
About 2 weeks ago I started feeling something weird in my hand and mentioned it to my Happiness Team, just during a casual conversation. They urged me to see a doctor ASAP and to take time off if I could get an appointment.
But I didn't. _Because I felt guilty having just taken 2 vacation days off earlier in the month. _So instead, I went to an Urgent Care Center after work hours.
Over this past weekend, I ended up back in Urgent Care where the doctor told me to take a day off work and prescribed some pain medication.
I thought to myself, "How can I avoid actually taking time a day off? Maybe I can just handle tickets, but not chat since I'd have to type very slow..."
But WHY was this even a question I asked myself? Why did I feel this way? I wasn't going to be very useful at work with a bum arm. Why couldn't I just let myself rest?
At Recruiterbox, I have a team that has my back, cares about me, and realizes that I'm not a robot. I will get sick. I will need vacations. I will have last-minute emergencies. I've never shown signs of taking advantage of my team, so where does the fear that they think that I would come from?
Monday was a big stepping stone for me in learning to not feel guilty about caring about myself as much as others do. I still need to keep working at it, but I'll get there thanks to my team :)
Today we got feedback from a brand new customer who commended us on our customer support on day one of their account, rather than complaining that they encountered an error on day one.
The truth is: Customers are going to run into issues. They're going to have questions. They're not going to know everything about an app on day one. We shouldn't be afraid of this, but instead, embrace it and let support shine!
At my last job people would ask me, "Well how are you better than [insert some competitor here]?” and I’d say, “To be honest, we might not be. There’s only so many features an app likes ours can have, which all the other apps might have too. So when testing us out, ask yourself this:
I'm glad that this customer (and so many of our customers) see the value of support when it comes to choosing an app! :)
Had a great coffee chat with @ashwin! These coffee chats are so special. Thanks to everyone for making time to do them amidst all our work, especially when it comes to coordinating time zones. I know I’ve started early to get on a chat, and those in India have stayed a little later in the office to accommodate me.