No matter your work environment, it’s ideal to find a space that helps you feel more upbeat than a fresh cup of coffee. I’ve been working from home since 2011, and many of my colleagues and friends do the same (including my husband, which is a post for another day!).
I remember when I first took the job at Radian6 (now Salesforce Marketing Cloud) and it would be remote. I worked at an ad agency at the time, which was a hustling, bustling work environment. In other words, it was the exact opposite of a quiet work-from-home lifestyle. “You’ll get fat.” “You’ll be lazy.” “You’ll work from your bed.” This is what I was told when I shared my exciting news of the new job. Sure, I was skeptical, but I refused to be fat, lazy or work from bed.
In the past five years of working remotely, I’ve experienced the opposite of fat and lazy. I’ve lost 10 pounds, started running, and I’ve received promotions and raises. I eat healthier, feel more productive, and write more.
Here are my best tips for being a successful remote worker…no coffee required.
Establish a routine
Similar to a morning commute, establish a morning routine. Get up, work out, shower, eat breakfast, get dressed and then start working. Try to get outside and then come back inside to work. You’ll feel like you’re entering “the office” for the first time that day, and you’ll be more productive, energized and refreshed.
Have a dedicated work space
Whether it’s a tiny desk in the corner of a room or a big beautiful office, establish a space to work. This will help you separate work from life, so you can focus when you’re working, and step away when necessary.
Also, since you control the look and feel of your work space, try to make it an ideal place for your needs. In past jobs, I never had a window in my work space, so I put my desk in a room with a big window. These small changes make you feel good, which plays out in your work.
Abuse video chat
Get yourself on camera for every single conversation and conference call. Milk Google Hangouts, GoToMeetings and Skype for everything they’re worth. Whether it’s a two-minute or two-hour conversation, get comfortable in front of the camera. This has many benefits:
- When I visit my company’s headquarters, people know who I am because they’ve seen me on screen.
- It makes conversations more effective, since you can see facial expressions, body language, and other nonverbal cues.
- It nonchalantly forces others to use their webcams, which is great for all of the reasons above.
Try email tools like SalesforceIQ
I’m not promoting my own company’s products for the heck of it. SalesforceIQ has been huge for me as a remote worker. It plugs into your email, so I can see email opens in real time, I can schedule emails, save email templates and more. This keep me even more connected.
I’m on the east coast, and with coworkers on the west coast, I write my emails and schedule them for a reasonable west coast hour.
Perhaps this is true, and overcommunication is simply effective communication. However, when working remotely, effective communication is the goal. There’s a potential to lose sight of those not physically in the office everyday, and therefore, it’s crucial to stay connected and frequently share plans, ideas, results, and more.
Always say hello to coworkers
In the office, we stop by our coworkers’ desks and offices, and we chat in the hallways. Water cooler conversations extend to happy hours, lunches and coffee before work. These casual-yet-crucial conversations can be achieved remotely with my favorite tool: Instant Messenger. Say hello, ask questions, or check in with an IM. Use technology to stay connected, and be friendly. Learn about your colleagues and ask about their latest birthday party, friend’s graduation or new pet. These conversations keep you connected and go a long way.
Get face time
The more in-person time, the better. Visit your company headquarters or nearby offices regularly. Go to events and conferences in your industry, especially those held by your organization. Face time has value, whether you attend a local networking event or a 150,000-person conference like Dreamforce.
If you live in eastern Connecticut and like Starbucks in the morning, you’ve probably seen me working. Twice a week I head to Starbucks to work in an environment outside of home. I surround myself with new and familiar faces. Sometimes a fellow #WFH pal will join me. This is a great way to have that face time, without the travel. Oftentimes I have fresh ideas in Starbucks. My coworker calls it my “coffee house ideas.” Those are usually the good ones.
What other tips do you have for working remotely? I’d love to hear them in the comments.