I always describe remote work as a luxury to design your work and lifestyle just the way you want it. It’s such an amazing experience that it’s even hard to describe how the freedom to work flexibly contributes to a better and happier life. However, this “design” part doesn’t come easy. If we truly want to thrive in this setup, we must be aware of various challenges lurking out there. If we know about them, we can make our remote working experience much better and create positive impact for others. We already know that smart working is all about productivity and the output. Let’s interpret these objectives wisely by diving into the most common threats.
Measuring remote productivity the right way
Productivity is a meaningful concept, yet still a buzzword for many. We can come across numerous productivity tools on the market such as various calendar plugins, time management apps or even task trackers. And all that can be useful but before we start reaching out for such ideas, we should work on our healthy habits that will enable productivity to really kick in! Below, you will find some common misunderstandings around productivity in a remote work setup:
What a trap! If your calendar is so full that you can’t squeeze in anything, it doesn’t mean that you are productive. Do you really think that you will remain all ears during your ninth meeting during the day? I know you won’t. Also, sometimes people block time in their calendars for deep work (which is great by the way!) but they don’t plan enough time and overestimate their capabilities. It results in not being able to finish work on time. That’s what leads to massive frustration and exhaustion.
Being overworked is not fancy. It’s tragic. The idea of working remotely is NOT about working more but wisely. The concept of remote work is meant to reduce unnecessary commute and create a proper balance between our goals and private lives. I once worked with a client who was proud of people being “more productive” while working from home. Once we analysed the situation, it turned out that they were working longer hours to prove themselves towards managers… How sad!
This seems tempting. As everything is literally inside our laptops, we can do many things at once! We can. But we shouldn’t. I’ll tell you this from my experience. I used to pride myself with being a multitasker, being able to have conversations with people in one language, while sending e-mails in a different one, and reviewing a document. Everything at the same time. Do you know what happened? I felt drained and everyone received only 30% of my input. Remember – you can’t clone yourself. Be here and now. Don’t read e-mails or articles when you’re in a remote meeting just because something interesting popped up.
Long story short, all those situations will lead to burnout. I can guarantee this as I’ve almost got there.
Building healthy habits in a remote setup
The most challenging part is that it’s your responsibility to take care of your health when you work remotely. There may be webinars and articles that can inspire you but the habit of closing an office door or leaving the room (just like old times) won’t be there. That’s why I’d like to share my personal habits with you. I’ve recently participated in Livestorm’s research concerning The Best Remote Working Tips 2022. Also, below you’ll find practices that I’ve developed throughout the years and they’ve made my remote life easier!
- Switch off notifications for deep work
Do you feel like Slack, e-mail, text message, Asana, Whatsapp are constantly calling your name? Don’t let them haunt you down! When you want to get shit done, just switch off all those notifications. You really don’t need to see them. I know you’re curious but don’t go that route. If it’s a matter of life and death, people can always give you a call.
You really don’t need to be checking Facebook notifications about your ex-girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s lunch…
This one is about the power of saying “no” – my Achilles heel for years. If someone invites you to a meeting with no agenda – politely decline. It’s your valuable time. Also, if someone asks you a favour but you’re busy working on an urgent task, make sure to talk about it openly. People can’t read your mind (fortunately!) and once you share your point of view in an elegant manner, they should respect it. Not putting yourself first but people pleasing is so unhealthy!
- Distinguish YOUR priorities
What are your goals for the day or week? Think about it. What is absolutely essential? What do you have to focus on to meet yours and your team’s deadlines? Once you figure this out, it will be much easier to work in a stress-free manner. You must know that many people get involved in other people’s requests easily, believing that their input is crucial… Whereas it isn’t.
- Choose the best spot to work
Let’s face it – we all have ups and downs. I sometimes work from home but there are days when this surrounding just doesn’t let me focus. Then, I choose to work from a coworking space or stylish cafe. We must stop forcing ourselves to sit in front of our laptops for the sole fact of gazing at our screens. Nothing positive will come out of this. Remote work is about innovation so let’s find someplace that will help achieve our daily goals.
I recently had a client who would send e-mails at midnight. I saw them right away… (Yes, curiosity kills the cat…) But I decided to absolutely not respond. Had I done it, it would have been a clear consent to communicate during night time in the future. I also hear this quite often from many people when they explain how others are being “pushy” towards them. Well, they usually tend to give in. If someone randomly calls you during an important meeting and you answer, you literally show no respect towards your time.
Open conversations work wonders
Sometimes managers tend to assign work and employees just agree. They don’t say anything and then keep complaining about the ridiculous workload. That’s wrong – come on! We all have what we’ve agreed on. Company cultures where open conversations happen on a daily basis, observe massive success! Why? Because it’s not just about getting things done but achieving the highest quality possible. Too much assigned work leads to stress and inability to meet deadlines. As remote work is all about the output, we’re often willing to impress others by showing that we have a can-do attitude and a hands on approach. That’s cool but let’s think about it long-term. A mature company should be able to develop a working environment where employees can work in an optimal setup while delivering feasible results. Any other setup is toxic.