Thoughts from a Remote Office – Year Four

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I was shocked to realize that as of January of this year, I’d worked remotely for Beacon Technologies from my home in Denver, CO, longer than I worked in the corporate offices in Greensboro, NC (three and a half years).  That being the case, I thought it was high time for me to revisit my previous post on working remotely, “Thoughts from a Remote Office.”

Though all these points are still valid:

  1. Get the highest quality and fastest Internet and phone connections available
  2. Separate your work day from your personal day
  3. Resist the temptation to drag yourself straight from bed to the office chair
  4. Have many ways to be accessible
  5. Make your availability and schedule very clear
  6. Be a good and attentive participant in staff meetings
  7. Take very good care of your equipment
  8. Have your own space
  9. Figure out the time zones
  10. Have some kind of social connection

I would add the following now that I have years of remote experience under my belt:

  1. Have a really good coffee machine– I realized that one of the things I missed most from the office experience was good and plentiful coffee (sad but true).  My pocket book appreciates the daily break from Starbucks, but my nerves apparently need the caffeine rush (and downtime) between meetings.  A nice, very quick Nespresso coffee maker has fit the bill nicely.  This article on staying motivated as remote employee calls this the “secret sauce” or the thing that gets you in a “work groove”.
  2. Have regular status meetings– Pursuant to #4 and 5 above, I hope that my coworkers know that I’m readily available at anytime during my work day though various means, but sometimes that just not enough for the remote employee.  Having regular project status meetings helps get my “face” (or voice, or whatever) in front of my co-workers on a regular basis so that our lines of communications stay wide open.
  3. Get out of the house– As this article describes, “If you spend all of your time in isolation, you’ll eventually go stir crazy.”  Though for the first few years at home, I felt like I needed to be tied to my chair for the entire work day to prove my worth, I found that it made me irritable and tired by the end of each day.  Now I make time to go to the gym at lunch at least twice a week, take at least two 15 minute coffee breaks and try to fit in a brisk walk before work every day.  The exercise, fresh air and break from “the grind” have all contributed to a much calmer me.
  4. Set, celebrate and share goals and achievements– One of the trickiest hurdles I’ve had to tackle as a remote employee is spreading the good news about positive achievements by the team.  You just don’t tend to get the opportunity to say (or hear) “nice job on that project by the way” as you walk down the halls as you would in the office.  Therefore, it is important to set goals based on your responsibilities and reward yourself and/or the team accordingly for a job well done (new coffee maker, ala #1 on this list, after a particularly challenging project!).   Also be sure to share the successful achievement of these goals, as appropriate, with your team and/or management.  For example, I try to provide a very detailed email to the entire company about every site launch or project completion within a day or two, including my appreciation for all parties involved.  For really big projects, I also try to send goodies (fruit, cookies, cake, etc.) over to the team in the office, to make sure they know how much I appreciate them.

Please share any other good ideas you have for being a happy and motivated remote employee!  Good resources that I found when researching this article: