Adjusting to a Remote Lifestyle

Working remotely is challenging. It requires discipline, agility, and grace. For anyone new to working remote, I hope this post might help make the transition a little more bearable.

Note: I have been 100% remote at the same company for 6 years. Currently serving my 5th tour of duty.

Productivity

Everyone starts the day differently. Adding structure to the day creates a sense of normalcy. It is important to maintain a morning routine:

  • Wake up everyday at the same time.
  • Get dressed like you’re going to the office
  • Eat breakfast (your brain needs carbs)
  • Clean up after breakfast, put dishes away, wipe down counters before logging on.
  • Have a dedicated start time.

Additional behaviors to consider would include:

Leave your workstation during your break.

Get outside everyday.

Maintain a tidy work space.

Have a water bottle at your workstation and drink a lot of water.

Take meetings away from your desk as you normally would in the office. It is nice to change locations even if it is moving from the desk to a chair or table.

Listening to music can help put you in a flow state.

Exercise and yoga help remove mental blocks. 10–25 minutes is all that is. needed. I have found 3 sets of 10 repetitions works best for me. Find some exercises you can do that you like to do that elevates the heart rate, gets your blood flowing, and quiets your thoughts.

Maintain discipline around your intake of all media.

Communication

Communicating via text is a challenge. Maintaining clear communication is now a necessity.

  • Use Google docs or Microsoft Word to draft/edit/proofread long messages.
  • Avoid pronouns (it, this, that, they, them, he, she).
  • When initiating a conversation over slack, start off your message by saying something like “hey, got a sec?” or “hey, quick question when you have a moment”. Showing respect for the other person’s time prevents worrying about “bothering” or “interrupting” someone.

Hangout meetings can be hard to navigate sometimes. People talking at the same time, connection issues, audio/visual issues. Accept them for what they are and be patient. Here’s a few tips to help make them operate more smoothly:

  • Have a dedicated driver of the meeting who calls on people.
  • Raise your hand if you wish to comment or ask a question.
  • When asking if there are any questions, count to 9. This allows enough time for others to think of questions.By the time you get to 9, someone will likely have a question. If not, then it’s okay to move on to the next topic.

And most importantly, it is still okay to schedule a phone call.

Stress Management

We are our own worst critics. This will likely be amplified without social interaction in the office. Processing our emotions and working through them takes time, the trick is to learn how to do it quickly. Finding what works for you is important.

  • Exercise at an intensity based on your stress level. I follow the rule of “the higher the stress level, the higher the intensity of the workout”.
  • Meditation. Youtube has a great selection of guided meditation. Like most things, it is a practice and the more you practice, the better you become.

You might start talking at your screen. While it might sound silly, vocalizing your thoughts at your screen is a therapeutic practice to process emotions and is very normal.

Sick days/personal days are still appropriate when working remotely. Prioritizing your health can help prevent burnout.

Reach out and say hi to people every once in a while. Socializing via text/phone/hangout/facetime is incredibly beneficial for mental health as well as building new connections and maintaining work relationships.

And finally, do not neglect your friend group outside of work. Make time to connect with friends, family. Talk about work, what’s going well and what’s not going well. Since many of our social groups are now working from home, it may turn into a group therapy session. We can all benefit from each other’s experiences.

This is a situation where trust is built. We are slowly experiencing a traumatic event together. It will forever change our perspectives, our behaviors, and our beliefs. Suffering through an extended period of isolation could inevitably bring us all closer together as a group while separately redefining our own individuality at the same time.

While we may be isolated, we are not alone. See you on Slack