If you’re looking for tips on remote work, this podcast might be for you. Robby Slaughter sat down with Lorraine Ball on the podcast More Than A Few Words to talk about being productive in a remote environment.
Lately, we can work anywhere, anytime, and in any place. This can mean that work never ends for many of us because we can work from home. When we would go to the office and it was time to leave, we would leave our work there. Now our devices and files follow us everywhere. People can reach us 24/7 and will work whatever time is available to them. It’s not surprising to get an email as early as 2 AM anymore! How do you stay productive when you work remotely?
Balancing Your Time
Stop using the term work/life balance. Instead, put your life first. Robby likes to say life/work balance so start by focusing on that aspect first. Creating a physical space for that division is necessary. A great way to create separate areas for living and work is by identifying a specific spot in your home or wherever you’re working which is a dedicated workspace. Not your couch or your kitchen table, an actual work zone! Next, have a way to cover up that spot. Close the door or put your things away in drawers so they’re out of sight. Robby shares that there’s something within our psychology that when a door is closed, we tend to think less about what is actually behind that door. You need to be able to shut off!
Maintaining Productivity While In A Virtual Setting
For many of us, physically being at work is a great motivator for productivity. So how can we stay productive when we’re not face-to-face or across the desk from someone else? Robby suggests thinking about your work as if workers are remote-first and in-person second. Imagine that every single person you work or collaborate with is also a remote worker and then, sometimes, you see them in person. Train yourself to think that your primary way of interacting with them is remote. Plan to save your questions to put into an email or over the phone. Comradery can take a hit, though. You aren’t in person anymore so you can’t tell a joke or laugh out loud with your coworkers. The tradeoff, though, is that you’re able to truly focus on your work. Lorraine points out that she works less at home because she has long periods to get things done without interruptions!
Virtual Office Open-Door Policy
Many managers can attest to the fact that when they say they have an open-door policy, what they truly mean is that they have an open-mind policy. No one can work productively with constant interruptions to their workflow. Lorraine shared that having a steady stream of people through her door causes her to get nothing done for long stretches of time. Having an open-mind policy means that if employees have concerns or ideas, they’re free to share them with you but during specific times. Pre-announce specific office hours that anyone is available to drop in or call for questions or help.
Creating Social Events Both In The Office And Remotely
Because we’ve removed the social aspect of the workplace by working remotely, it’s important to reinvent social interaction. Maintaining personal connections with your coworkers through “Beer Friday” or “Ice Cream Socials” is a great way to start. You could try creating a remote event like watching a movie at the same time and discussing it afterward via Zoom. Be intentional when creating these social activities instead of it being all the time as it was in person at the office. Also, be sure to respect that some of your employees might not want that social interaction so don’t force it on everyone, either!
How we measure employee productivity is going to change. We used to measure how an employee performs or gets things done was based on them being physically in the office. In reality, we aren’t tracking exactly how much our employees are getting done. You can’t exactly look busy while working remotely as you can when you’re sitting in the office! We need to focus on our employee’s success rather than the face time we’re getting with them.
You can listen to the podcast via the embedded player below.