Jason Fried, author of ‘Remote: Office Not Required’, says, “One of the secret benefits of remote working is that the work itself becomes the yardstick for someone’s performance.” Is it possible to make the current work-from-home scenario work in your favor, given the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disruption of our daily routines? It is. And it boils down to how attuned you are into your own schedules, not that of your colleagues.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when working from home:
- Maximize based on your body clock. Not all of us are productive at 8 a.m. Some of us peak in the afternoons, others post 10 p.m. When are you at your energetic best? How does that fit with the lockdown schedules of people around you? Figuring that will help you create the best work routine.
Zapier’s Senior Customer Champion, Rob Hubbard, describes his routine – “5 a.m. – Get up, make coffee, and quickly process through the “All Unreads” of Slack. I star anything I need to deal with later… Because Slack is quieter and my focus is higher, I can respond more than at any other point in my day. I stop between 7-7:15 a.m. to get my kids up and off to school. I’m back on at 9 a.m. and finish at 3.” In contrast, Senior Engineer David Brownman starts work at 10 a.m., stops around 3:30 p.m. for gym and personal time. He logs back in later, getting “more (quiet and focus-heavy) hours between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. to work.”
- Set blocks of time for different kinds of work. If you notice, a lot of the above scheduling revolves around quiet, focused work. We need that. But we also need to collaborate with our colleagues. That doesn’t mean being on calls all day long. Instead, it is about co-creating, brainstorming, sharing or receiving feedback, or even asking for help!
Remote working makes it harder to just drop by someone’s desk to ask questions, share ideas, or even clarify what the email meant. Now, it’ll take conscious, persistent effort to maintain relationships and work together. Mark blocks of time for such activity in your day and schedule it with your team members in advance. You’ll feel good about the progress made on these tasks, as well as stay connected and less isolated. This also helps if you’re looking for a productivity boost – ample recent research shows that collaboration improves performance.
While companies like Twitter might consider making remote working a permanent feature, how we relate to this way of working will set the tone for our productivity. One size doesn’t fit all. So, find and create the norms that make working from home effective for you.