Random Observation/Comment #615: If you want productive remote workers, you’re going to want to hire people with discipline and entrepreneurial initiative/drive.
Why this List?
For the past 6 months, I’ve been working at a remote-first company. I try to get into the office twice a week to keep a natural co-worker cadence going, but I had a few London clients that constantly had 7/8AM meetings so it was impossible to do daycare drop-off and make any scheduled morning meetings without working from home.
At first, it was too easy to be distracted because of my cat (R.I.P. Henhen) and other sinkholes of productivity, but now I feel following my personal principles have given me a much better work-life balance. It took some personal investment and discipline, but over time I built a fairly enjoyable, productive environment, and set of routines to make me more focused and flexible.
- Find a video-friendly place to setup your workstation – First and foremost make sure you’re comfortable, but secondly make sure your video-on background looks presentable. We spend a lot of time on Zoom meetings and encourage video sharing.
- Invest in comfort – You don’t need to get anything fancy, but there are reasons why chairs are expensive. Buy a nice chair if you’re going to be sitting on it for 4+ hours a day.
- Make sure you’re well-lit – A desk lamp goes a long way. I have mine facing up highlighting the wall and it helps with strained eyes.
- Make sure your monitor is at eye level – If you’re just putting your laptop on a regular level desk, you’re likely hunching your back and leaning forward. Prop up the whole laptop and buy a wireless keyboard/mouse.
- Buy a conference speaker phone – I personally use this Jabra Speak one which has had good audio and microphone.
- Buy a good headset – If you’re not the only person working from home then a headset will be preferred. I personally also use this Jabra headset.
- Buy a whiteboard – I’m a bit of a whiteboard fanatic, but this has really helped me focus on completing tasks and sketching ideas
- Buy a fidget device for meetings – It’s sometimes too easy to do other work while you’re attending a meeting. If you’re not adding to the chat messages, it’s probably a good idea to occupy your hands with one of these fidget things so you can better pay attention.
- Invest in caffeinated convenience – I personally like Trader Joe’s concentrated ice coffee with soy creamer. It let’s me water it down and control my caffeine intake throughout the day (but still drink something cold).
- Cook your own lunch – Not only does this encourage a good cooking habit for you (and your family), but it also saves time, money, and it’s much more healthy
- Setup more virtual coffee chats – Since you’re not physically near anyone in the office to learn more about their weekend plans or talk about family, it’s a good habit to do at least 2 or 3 chats with people to make up for regular lunch chats. Shout out to the Donut app on slack.
- Contribute to slack channels (1) people on your team – This should be your comfort zone for post status updates or catching up
- Contribute to slack channels (2) people in your role on a global basis – Good to get exposure and share the different things you’re learning to hone your skills
- Contribute to slack channels (3) people in your industry focus – Good to share the latest news you’ve learned that’s relevant to your peers at all levels
- Contribute to slack channels (4) random channel – Always good to share fun things that are friendly and maybe even align to a specific hobby
- Set reminders to stand up and stretch – It might be easy to just sit in front of your computer and work away, but sometimes it’s also good to stand up and go outside for some fresh air.
- Meet your OKRs – It’s easy for a management team to feel uneasy about your contributions if they don’t see you working on something next to you. A remote worker would be smart to make sure their contributions fit their measurable contributions to the team and company’s goals.
- Change out of your PJs – It’s hard to be motivated to work when you haven’t showered or changed. If you’re “ready to walk out the door” then it’s less of an excuse to stay inside.
- Change your scenery if you don’t have meetings – I find it hard to take meetings in a public place, but it’s pretty easy to find a coffee shop with wifi in order to change up the atmosphere. This is highly dependent on how you work best.
- Take meetings at your client’s location – I used to invite clients to the office, so to keep the social connection, I often ask clients if they’d like me to visit them directly. It’s harder on the commute time, but at least one client meeting a week helps me stay mobile and promote my other routines
- Use your smartphone for information and not distractions – I used to sink my time in a lot of mobile games and default go to it for a dose of success. I now use it much more for reading via Pocket and reading on news/special topics.
- Join meetings 7 minutes early – I tend to do this so I can communicate with other early meeting joiners so we can chat about random things. It’s always a nice pre-meeting chat that would happen naturally when seeing people in-person.
- Give #gratitude to others – We have a gratitude channel and it’s always nice to give credit where credit is due
- Support co-workers with feedback – Remote environments are heavy on personal branding. While I don’t like to share negative reviews, I do like to give honest feedback to co-workers who need to step up their game when contributing to projects.
- Be more proactive on your tasks – It’s generally a good idea to stay visible and actively work on things that makes everyone life’s easier. You’re an adult and no one is breathing down your neck on how you deliver, so act with radical accountability.
- Attend and organize events – Take advantage of in-person events and make it a purpose to be more social (especially with your teammates). If there are no events, maybe it’s worth organizing lunches or happy hours with other local teammates. You may work remotely, but you don’t have to socialize remotely.
- Do some yoga – There’s a lot of at-home exercises you can find on YouTube and it might not be a bad idea to add a simple workout to your routine so you can stay in shape and also listen to a good podcast.
- Listen to a good playlist – Rock out at home with a rich playlist to get into the zone. A big plus to working from home is being able to focus.
- Keep evaluating your process – Look at all your tools and retro on what’s been effective. Smarter every day.
- Just because you can do everything remotely, doesn’t mean you’re always on call – Make sure you add Do Not Disturb features on your phone so you can embrace your “Me Time.”
~See Lemons Work More from Home