Tips for Those Unaccustomed to the Remote Work Lifestyle

Priority Thinking founder and head leadership coach, Peter DeMarco, wrote an article several years ago which gave the reader tools to combat the “noonday devil” that tempts sluggishness and despair from a person and draws them away from their duties (article link). With the world dealing with a global pandemic and a significant percentage of the American workforce conducting their business from home, we have more to combat than the heat and hunger that tempts us at midday. For example, the anxiety that accompanies the threat of more drastic and unplanned changes to your job function, the unavailability of certain key resources you once relied on to perform your job effectively, or all those dishes that have been piling up in the sink. These new devils pester everyone who’s forced to adapt to this unfamiliar lifestyle amid the battle against COVID-19.

It may seem a little asinine to have even written an article focused on those of us fortunate enough to be able to conduct our work from the safety of our home, but the world still expects productivity from us. The paychecks of the brave individuals on the front line still need to be prepared, marketing campaigns still need to be run, and here at Priority Thinking, the IT still needs to be directed. We may feel like the supporting cast as the battle rages on outside our walls, but we can’t give in to the distractions. Please allow me to share some tips that have helped me work effectively from home in this strange time.

1. Maintain Routine

I am not an early riser. When I first began working from home I was tempted to relish in the extra hours of sleep I could get if I just rolled out of bed at 8:15 to get to my computer by 8:30. Maybe if I was a little late getting up, that’s okay, I could just work a little longer past 5:00 and I would just take it day by day. Fortunately, I had several sources recommend that I not give in to this temptation and instead maintain my regular sleep schedule. I think this has worked for me in maintaining my morning productivity. I’m also happy with extra time I would’ve spent commuting instead being devoted to playing with my cat.

2. Implement New Technology

As with many other businesses, Priority Thinking has experienced an interruption in how we typically do business. Less face-to-face time with clients, fewer client engagements, etc. have threatened our revenue. It’s been a good exercise in adaptation and we’ve made an effort to improve our technology infrastructure so we come out on the other end of this thing in fighting shape. We’ve explored new file share systems, video conferencing software, and business intelligence platforms, to name a few, all in the name of equipping employees with the tools to best serve clients. These aren’t just a band-aid to fix the problems of the present, but we’re attempting to fully integrate this new technology into our business model going forward.

3. Measure Your Productivity

When you’re not working alongside coworkers, you may feel a lack of accountability when it comes to your job responsibilities. It’s important that you be prepared to shoulder the full weight of the burden to keep yourself motivated. My personal technique is simply to make a list of all the projects I would like to work on over the next couple months and estimate the number of hours I expect them to take to complete. Then, each day I keep track of the hours I spend on each project and use this information in tip #4.

4. Report In and Engage with Others

Whether it’s a daily summary of the work you did today, or a weekly video conference with your team to review progress, it’s important now more than ever that your superiors and coworkers are kept in the loop about how you’re spending your time. Though you’re working from home, don’t forget that you’re still part of a team. If someone’s having trouble adjusting, offer assistance as you would working with them in the office.

5. Walk (or something)

When I worked in our office I tried to take a few short walks per day to keep the juices flowing. I’ve done my best not to abandon this practice, but instead substitute some other activities. I feel a lot less awkward lifting weights or doing stretches in my living room than I would in the middle of my office. Maybe knock out a few household chores throughout the day. Just make sure you’re monitoring your time away from your job responsibilities.

6. Focus on the Benefits

Maybe it’s too cheesy, but there’s opportunity in every crisis. At Priority Thinking, we thought about what we want our business to look like when we come out of this crisis. We’re using this time to get lean and mean, get as organized as possible, and build out some new products to launch once this crisis is over. I’m sure many organizations have a backlog of projects they’d like to tackle, even if it means making the transition to a new technology product or clean out the storage closet.