Pyjama Warriors aka Remote Workers
So, you’ve landed yourself a remote working job, let’s face it, it’s not for everyone, but for some, there is no better way of working. Here are 6 steps to achieving remote working zen, or at least tips on how not to burn yourself out within the first 6 months:
“remote workers have to be able to communicate better than their office brethren” (Auth0.com)
1. Communication (obviously!)
Practise and hone your communication skills – without being able to tap your work colleague on their shoulder whenever you feel like it – communication needs to be precise, considered and effective. Similarly having an open channel of communication will help ensure that you feel a part of the team and better able to understand where the company is and what projects are going on at the same time.
I recommend Zoom for having a constant open channel, a window to the office. Plus, platforms such as Slack help maintain that everyone stays in the loop.
93% of communication is non-verbal
Don’t be afraid to use Zoom and or Google Hangouts – set up and leave in the background and have a live stream, that way you’ll be easier to get hold of when people want to talk to you as well as being able to portray more effectively what you’re trying to communicate through body language and other social non-verbal cues.
2. Do not disturb [DND]
Not only reserved for a sign to hang on the back of the door to your home office/bedroom/garden wall but also a neat little trick for when you’re working remotely but have no obvious way of telling your colleagues that you need to focus. In an office setting, I might close the door or put headphones in, but when remote, perhaps even when working streaming on Zoom you need to be able to tell your colleagues, that now is not a good time. Slack has a handy function which means you can set your status as DND and you can kind of get around the lack of status update on Zoom by turning the camera off and writing ”[yourname] DND” which will then appear on the screen. Either way, it is important to set boundaries and for colleagues who are working in the office or remotely too to know when’s a good time to communicate and when isn’t.
DND is a two-way street. Similarly, contacting colleagues outside of work hours just because you’re a night owl may not make you flavour of the month. Knowing when to communicate and with what medium whilst abiding by unwritten DND rules is a minefield you are going to have to understand.
3. Take Breaks
I can’t stress this enough. It’s common, once you get comfortable and settled within your own work sanctuary not to take breaks… or to just keep thinking I’ll do this and then I’ll take a break… which never comes. In an office, breaks are more structured, such as lunch etc and colleagues can prompt you to step away from your desk. Don’t get burnt out by working non-stop – just because you are at home, on the beach, in a forest or coffee shop – breaks are necessary to keep you optimally performing.
If you’re a bit of a workaholic like me, who has positioned herself conveniently between the bathroom and the kitchen for zero lag on production when walking to and from said rooms – set a timer. Even better crack open Monday.com and use their timed task feature, once you hit your minutes (or hours in my case) take a break, maybe even venture… upstairs! But seriously, wonder round, get your steps in, grab some lunch, even die-hard workaholic remote workers need to take a break!
4. Change the scenery!
Perhaps the greatest perk of working remotely is being able to take your work with you. Digital Nomads are renowned for sharing stunning pictures across Instagram of their “office” views, but you don’t have to hire a camper and some solar panels to enjoy a change of scenery whilst working. Surfing coffee shop sofas, setting up in the garden or simply changing rooms in your house all serve to mix things up a little and enhance your productivity.
If you can, and remote working is a long-term thing for you, consider getting electrical points installed in the garden. You’ll appreciate the investment in the summer months. Failing that maybe an ultra-long power cable…
5. The ‘to DON’T list’
Create a “to-don’t list” – a huge pitfall of working from home can be that you are surrounded by constant reminders of other things you could be doing such as chores. Step away from the washing up liquid and hoover – as pressing as that task may seem, leaving your desk to just do a little bit of washing up could soon turn into a full-on spring clean. Tools such as live streaming into the office could work as a good deterrent and add a little accountability to how you use your time. But if you just can’t help but wash up last nights dinner dishes, set goals, create a checklist and once done, reward yourself…. With some washing up!
Close your eyes as you walk through the kitchen – you’ll get used to it after a while -but if the risk of injury is too great have a dedicated start time and try to get your chores done before the day starts. Alternatively, hire a cleaner, you might be able to afford it now you’re saving on the commute costs…
and finally…. 6. The Shutdown Ritual
Leaving work after a day in the office is an obvious signal to the brain and body that the workday is over. Often as a remote worker, you may be tempted just to get up from your desk or put your laptop down on the sofa next to you and think that’s it. Ask yourself…. How many times after that do you “nip” back on to see whether you have any new emails/reply to a supplier/check your LinkedIn? By creating a ritual, you are subconsciously telling your brain the working day is done. So, close your laptop and put it away in its allocated space. Tidy your desk and remove all clutter ready for the next day, decompress and shut the door to your home office. The day is done, you have a long commute to the sofa waiting for you.
Having a shutdown ritual is absolutely 110% necessary, and possibly the most important part of the day. You must get used to shutting your brain off. When your home is also your workplace, its easy for the boundaries to get blurred. I cannot stress this enough. Do not ignore this step.
Tools I think you’ll need to succeed (I’m not sponsored or endorsed by)
- Monday.com – not just for project management, but a great visual tool for organising your own workflow processes and task lists
- Slack – collaborative working and constant chat at its best, it’s like WhatsApp but turbocharged
- IKEA – kit your office out, standing desks are cool but they cost a fortune and who can actually fit one in their home office?
- Cat treats – your cat is probably going to pester you all day long, mine is currently trying to write this article by swishing her tail across my keyboard – cat treats will provide a welcome distraction
- Wi-Fi extender – fancy working in the garden today?? Don’t let the lack of Wi-Fi stop you from catching some rays whilst typing those emails!
- An endless supply of coffee – buy it in bulk, you can no longer rely on the office kitchen to provide you with a never-ending supply of the caffeinated goodness
- A remote job
ps. don’t vacuum your cat!