Many who know me from around credit union land know I’m a bit of a wanderlust. A few years back we made the decision to shut down our offices at CUInsight.com and become a fully remote workforce. There were also selfish reasons for this decision that had nothing to do with the bottomline. I wanted to be a digital nomad (which I did for a time) or the term I now prefer, location independent.
Over the past few years I’ve been on partner calls at 4:00am while living in Indonesia, Jill and I spent the summer both working remotely from Spain while running our businesses like we were at our home in West Hartford, CT, I’ve recorded podcasts on the Indian Ocean, and scrambled to find good wifi in a coffee shop before going off to dive the Great Barrier Reef. Strong wifi has been the life line to my career/business while traversing the globe. I’ve been able to call my “office” many beautiful locations around the world and most of the time the people on the other end of the call, Skype or Zoom had no idea I wasn’t in a traditional office.
Today, my Delta app is empty and like many of you I am at home social distancing for the foreseeable future. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way to share with those of you who are working remotely for the first time due to the coronavirus (COVID-19):
Consistency and distractions
Blocking your time and having a schedule to follow is the most important thing in my opinion. The distractions are different outside the office. Taking five minutes to move the laundry from to the dryer turns into 35 minutes because of a detour to see what’s happening on CNN, making a snack, talking to a family member about their day. The list goes on of potential distractions. Those “five minutes” add up and at the end of the day you feel like you were extremely busy but wonder why you didn’t get much done.
Create a workspace
If you can, create a workspace where you can shut the door. When the door is closed you’re not home. You’re at the office. Jill and I are both working from home. We both work in credit unions so it’s easy to get in conversations throughout the day about who just talked to who or what exciting project we’re working on. We’ve had to learn social distancing before it was cool. Jill is in one part of the house and I’m in the other. We meet in the kitchen and have a delightful lunch and then go back to our corners of the house.
The walls can start to close in on you. Many of us who work from home normally would head to a Starbucks or Panera Bread just to be around other humans. We shouldn’t do that today. Keep social distancing for the greater good. Instead have regular calls or facetime with colleagues, mentors or others who are working remotely as well. Even for an introvert like me, human interaction is an important thing for our sanity.
Shut it down
It’s easy to let work creep into your family time. I know this happens to all of us with our emails/calendars/slack on our phones. I’m an early bird. I’ll start working on something as soon as I open my eyes. It’s easy to walk back to the open laptop on the desk in the evening and check an email or knock something out quickly. Don’t. It can wait (most of the time). Set your office hours and stick to them. The same way you don’t want to let your home life take over your work day, don’t let your work day spill into your home life.
I could go on but this is a good start. The beauty of working remotely is the flexibility. And in uncertain times where things are changing by the hour having a little flexibility in your life is something to be grateful for.
If I can help your transition to remote work in any way, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @CUInsight on Twitter and I can share more of the tools, tricks and life hacks I’ve learned and practice.