016: Lessons Learned Working from Home -- Part 2



Justin wraps up the discussion from last week on lesson’s he’s learned working from home over the last seven years.


00:00 Hello and welcome to Process. My name is Justin DiRose, community leader at the Productivity Guild. And today we’re talking about the lessons that I’ve learned working from home part two.

00:12 Last week we discussed some of the lessons that I have learned working from home over the last seven years. Today we finished that discussion. Let’s jump right in where we left off. Lesson number six, improve your written communication as a remote worker. Your communication will primarily be in written form, either via chat, email or some kind of a project management tool, whether that be Basecamp or Discourse or whatever. Communication is going to be your number one friend and your number one skill that you need to be effective as a remote worker because you don’t have people that you can just look at and give them the indication that you’re working. So the only way that people know that you’re working is through your communication. And additionally, you will be communicating more and more and more through a written format because you are remote. So one of the skills and ways to do that is if you need to, especially if you’re not skilled in written communication at this point, read, reread, and read again your communication to make sure you’ve included everything you need, especially try reading it from the perspective of the person who’s receiving it.

01:14 So if you’re trying to send an email to your boss, explaining some things that you need for a project, read it from your boss’s perspective and make sure that you’re communicating everything that they need to know in that email. Also, be aware of tone when you’re writing emails because there’s lots of room to infer unspoken meaning from written communication. For example, if you write an email that just says, yeah, thanks to someone who’s asking for something or has a specific request or gives you some information. If they don’t know you well enough, they might take that as just like, oh, he’s kind of being snarky about that. I’ve had that happen before and I’ve totally misread into it and that’s my responsibility to handle that correctly as the receiver of that communication, I can ask a question and say, hey, did you mean this? And more than likely they’re going to say, oh no, absolutely not.

02:03 I was just being quick and brief because I was busy. But it’s something to be aware of in your written communications, which leads directly into lesson number seven. Have hard conversations via video or phone always. So it’s difficult to have hard conversations via text because there’s so room to infer unspoken meeting in there because you don’t have visual and verbal cues to get kinda the tone and the emotion that’s behind a piece of communication in a written format. When I was a manager and doing so remotely, I made it a point to almost always give feedback to my direct reports via phone or video chat. Frankly, it can be disrespectful to try to confront someone via text based format.

02:54 It can actually further the rift between you and another person instead of mending it. So always schedule those video or phone calls with people or just pick up the phone and call someone and just say, hey, did you mean to come across this way? Or, Hey, I think we need to adjust this here. It’s so much easier to convey meaning at least with your voice if not through a video phone call than just to try to convey that through a text lesson.

03:16 Number Eight, increase touch points with important people. We alluded to this already, but working remotely means that your boss and your peers cannot see what you’re doing at any given moment unless your employer uses some scary monitoring software, which I am 100% against by the way, but the way to remedy this and build longterm trust is to communicate regularly. If you have a question or you need to duck out for a couple of hours for an appointment or if you have a way to improve a process, communicate, reach out to the people who need to know those type of things.

03:45 Additionally, regularly scheduled one on ones with your peers and with your supervisor can help you stay connected. Part of being satisfied as a remote worker is feeling like you’re part of something. This is just general business and corporation 101, make your employees feel connected and they will want to stay. So you have a lot of barriers to feeling connected when you’re working remotely unless your supervisor and you are intentional to stay connected and, and connect your team together. So being intentional, create space to connect with important people within the organization, people that have an impact on you and people you can have an impact upon.

04:23 Lesson number nine, have a system to keep you on track. This is probably an obvious one for uh, you know, a productivity podcast, but on the same line of not having any over the shoulder accountability for being a remote worker and a way to help you stay accountable is to have a system to help keep you moving forward. Whether it’s a task manager or a notebook or a note taking tool, use it, review it and execute. Second to communication, the ability to execute is your most important skill when working remotely because oftentimes your performance isn’t going to be judged upon the relationship that you have with your supervisor as much as your ability to execute and produce.

05:03 Lesson number 10 use startup and shutdown routines. Everyone benefits from having routines, but working from home means that you don’t have the commute as a transition time into and out of focusing on your work. So what I’ve done to replace that is instead of using that transition time, commute time to transition, I’ve developed a startup and a shutdown routine to get me into and out of my workday. So this looks like things like making sure my task manager is in order, making sure that I check my calendar for the day, check through the appropriate websites that I need to that are relevant to getting going for work for the day, so on and so forth.

05:42 And then the shutdown routine looks like closing everything up, getting everything out of my head, putting it into my system, trying to plan for the next day as best as I can. And then actually sometimes I’ll spend about 15 minutes reading. Having these type of processes in place can get your brain transitioned a little bit better because if you just cut off, walk out of the office, quote unquote, and then go into your house and try to interact with your family or do something else. Some people that works, but for me especially, I know, uh, it can be very difficult to transition. My brain is still very much in work mode at that moment in time. Well, working remotely is something as we stated is on the rise and there’s a lot of things that we can do to try to improve how working from home working remotely works. There’s a lot of things that need to be adjusted from a normal nine to five working in the office, commuting to the office type situation in order to be effective.

06:41 Well that’s all for this time. If you want to join in on the discussion for this episode or if you want to connect with others who are in the process of becoming better on their productivity journey, head on over to the Productivity Guild at productivityguild.com. Or if you want to support this podcast and get access to video modules, productivity courses, and more, consider signing up for a Pro membership at the Productivity Guild for just $10 a month. Get a free month trial using code PROCESS19. Lastly, if you like this show, rate us on iTunes or recommend us on Overcast. My name is Justin DiRose and join me next time on Process.