For most of your career, you’ve likely worked in an office. You’ve been surrounded by familiar context and scenery. But now, the friendly co-workers, cleaners, bosses, desks and people you know by face only, with whom you exchange ‘good mornings’, have all disappeared into your laptop.
Your entire world has suddenly become your computer.
If you find your “digital” self to be less motivated or consistent than your “office” self - you, my friend, are not alone. It might be hard to admit, but humans are better at evolving slowly rather than suddenly.
Especially if “suddenly” means within hours.
Welcome to the new world of remote work. As an IT professional who has quite some experience working remotely, I’ve discovered a few things that have helped me tremendously over the years.
That’s why I wanted to write this guide for you; to help you navigate the tricky waters of remote work, so that you can look back at this time that you worked remotely with personal power and pride.
Let’s start with...
Your Delicious Time
One of the easiest things about working in an office is having a consistent and separate ‘work’ environment and ‘home’ environment.
That distinction goes out the window when you’re home all day.
Even Marian Davidson, a news reporter for NBC Montana, would not appear on TV the way she appears on TV… at home.
Point being, your brain merges the reality of work with home and your schedule can suffer.
So here’s a trick you can play with your brain. It’s worked very well for me over the years:
Stick to the same work hours, exactly as you would when working in an office.
I know, I know - easier said than done; but here’s the secret of why this works so well.
Once you train yourself to keep the same hours, your body and mind adapt to the same work “environment”.
Like all things, focusing on what you can control is your highest leverage point.
So if being in the office is out of your control, maintaining the same work hours is in your control.
If you normally start work, let’s say, at 9 am, then start remote work at 9 am.
If your lunch is usually at 12:30 pm, then start ‘remote lunch’ at 12:30 pm and get back to work when you normally do.
In my experience, here are the 3 big “Brain Benefits” of maintaining, to a “T”, the same exact work hours:
BRAIN BENEFIT #1 - The Feeling of Satisfaction
I don’t have to convince you of the obvious. When you finish a task, especially important ones, you LOVE it.
You love that uber-yummy, juicy, fulfilling feeling of finishing your work with cherries on top. The more YOU feel satisfied with your awesome work, the better YOU will feel.
The better you feel, the happier your home.
So, as Stephen Covey said, “Start with the End in Mind”. In this case, the end being that satisfying feeling of a job well done.
Start with that in mind as you debate when to begin or end your work day.
BRAIN BENEFIT #2 - Discipline = Freedom
I have a friend, he’s in his 50’s and in tip-top shape. Another friend is in his 30’s and…well, not so much.
The one in his 50’s who looks great, shows up to work with boundless energy and enthusiasm and runs marathons - and does so because of his discipline.
The one who doesn’t fit that description will likely not ‘start’, because it feels way too overwhelming to even begin.
The point is, in your discipline is your freedom.
While waking up at 5am and running for a few miles sounds daunting at first, soon enough it’s one of the best parts of your day.
By sticking to the same work hours, day in and day out for as long as you’re working remotely, you will feel free.
This paradox is a secret you likely already know: That by sticking to your work, consistently, you give yourself two wonderful gifts that, like a good wine, get even better with time.
You’ll feel free and fulfilled. And who on earth doesn’t want to feel that?
There is one extra benefit of feeling free and fulfilled by being Dr. Discipline…
BRAIN BENEFIT #3 - The Pleasure You’re After (a.k.a ‘Neural Pathways’)
These days, every child and their dog knows Neuroscience 101. So excuse me for pointing out the obvious.
When you do something that gives you pleasure, the pleasure is felt by your brain being sent a spike of dopamine. The more times you do that thing, the more you train your brain to see that ‘thing’ as ‘pleasure’. Where a neural ‘pathway’ is established between the action and the dopamine/pleasure experience.
In this example, the more consistently you show up and do your work, keeping the same hours, crushing your projects and completing your tasks with gusto - the more your brain establishes a ‘pathway’ between ‘work’ and ‘pleasure’, or ‘satisfaction’.
Aside from the theoretical, your brain will crave work, because it associates it with pleasure.
So now that you’re ‘Mr. or Mrs. Inspiration’ to all, being free and fulfilled, let’s move on to the second element of working remotely…
Your Inspired Environment
Working in an office isn’t simply working in an office. It’s also working with other geniuses in that office.
While working with your peers, you’ve established all kinds of ways of working together. Discussing projects on the fly, giving someone that ‘need it now’ glance or going out for drinks to finish the week are all ways we experience and create our social work environment.
Now that you’re home in your pajamas suit and tie, without any of your coworkers, you might be wanting some of that social fun and activity, along with your increased productivity.
Have no fear my friend. Because as remote as you might feel, there are some super-fun benefits to our new digital landscape.
To start, let’s cover your work space.
PERMANENT WORK SPACE
You want to show up to work, like a boss. So use this quick tip to feel like a boss with a simple set up.
Create a permanent work space. This lets your brain and spirit adjust to the new environment as if it’s a better environment. Because you’re setting the intention to make it that way, by making it that way.
Whether you live in a mansion or a small apartment, your work space is your new best friend. Here are a few things to help you establish your new happy work environment.
Of course, you know what works best for YOU. Here are some easy ways to enjoy your environment.
· Pictures (loved ones, pets, mentors or even paintings)
· Books (whatever books get your mindset focused)
· Inspired Quotes (we love quotes because they simplify brilliance, in a bite-size format)
· Office Chair (this can be any chair, but make it the one you use for work)
Plants (10 best office plants)
RESOURCES: OFFICE SPACE
1. Monitor Arms
3. Wobble Boards for Standing Desks (‘passive’ exercise while standing)
5. BONUS: An Exercise-Workstation!
6. BONUS: Seen HumanScale?
Next up for the work environment is…
DRESS LIKE YOU’RE AT WORK (not at home)
Our minds are a funny, fascinating thing. Sure you can work in your PJs, but then your brain says, “Who cares about today? Not me, not one bit”.
Oh sure it can be fun and relaxing once in a while, but your work is far too important.
Imagine you do wear a suit, even if no one’s watching. How do you feel? You feel professional, possibly ridiculous and awesome.
That being said, you might as well feel super comfy looking super pro. So check out the resources below for some simple hacks.
RESOURCES: WORK CLOTHES
Being new to remote work can mean not even knowing how many remote tools are available these days. So here’s a list.
RESOURCES: REMOTE TOOLS
Known as a “swiss army knife” of the digital work landscape, G Suite by Google supplies you with more than 60 apps for your teams’ work and survival. Including Google Drive, Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar, Slides, Sheets and more.
Just like Google, only Microsoft. Leading the digital office realm, Office 365, like it’s friendly nemesis Google, fulfills your every remote work wish and dream. From document creation to team collaboration, email to calendars, Office 365 supplies you with more than the bare essentials. Including SharePoint, Teams, Outlook, Word, Yammer, PowerPoint and Excel.
Remember them? They’re still here and are more than happy to give you instant messaging, voice and video calls from just about any device. Skype does offer an enterprise bundle if you,and your company, prefer. Another option is simply having it as personal backup should the occasion arise.
The overnight success that was founded way back in 2011, has been crushing the remote work scene for many moons already. With th