Working Remotely

Do you work remotely? Also known as working from home, teleworking, etc. What’s your corporate policy on this? As needed, like in a snowstorm or recovering from surgery, or whenever, wherever? What’s your opinion on this?

Here at Simplex-IT, we have the flexibility of working remotely. I’ve actually been working this way for the last 10-12 years. Just last week I’ve worked in the office, in my home office, in the car (don’t worry I wasn’t driving) and at a little cabin in the middle of nowhere, where I’m currently typing this. And you know where I was the least productive? The office. Yup. And I just realized it.

You see, I used to work from home a lot. A lot a lot. Before Simplex-IT moved into our larger office, there simply wasn’t room for me. I lived a few minutes away and would go into the office when I needed to, but then I’d find another place to work. Usually my home office. Sometimes my deck in the nice weather. The coffee shop. You get the idea.. It didn’t matter where I was, I still worked the same. I think this is how most people who work remotely feel.

Once we moved into our larger office, I started to spend more time there. It wasn’t a conscience decision, I just found myself working from the office more. It’s probably because Bob keeps the kitchen stocked for us, there’s the lounge room with beanbags and video games, a tiki bar, and of course all the great people. But lately I have felt like there just isn’t enough time in the day. I was rushing through things, making stupid mistakes, forgetting things. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I couldn’t catch up.

So then last week... Really busy, lots to do. I didn’t know how I would get it all done. I had plans to go out of town for a few days, and I seriously thought about cancelling it. But, we have an open telework policy at work, so I figured I’d just work from there (the above mentioned little cabin in the middle of nowhere). And I did. And you know what? I was able to focus on everything I needed to do and got it done faster than I thought. I looked over all the crossed out items on my to-do list and was a little surprised at myself. Obviously it was because I was away from the office and could just focus on what I needed to do. And then it hit me. You know that feeling I mentioned about not having enough time in the day? That started a few months ago. About the same time I started working from the new office more. It was my ah-ha moment. I’m not losing it, I’m just not as productive working in the office! I’m easily distracted in general and just work better in an environment where I don’t have a lot of distractions. And this week was a win-win. I got to keep my plans and visit my beloved cabin. I was super productive and Bob got a full week’s worth of work out of me (for once, haha!).

  1. Everyone has to be in on it. It has to be part of your corporate culture. You can’t use it as an excuse if someone isn’t physically available. You can’t be “afraid to bother someone” if they are working remotely. It’s not a day off, and you should absolutely call, IM, email just as it’s any other day. If I’m available/green on Skype for Business, that means I’m working. Even now, at 4pm on Saturday.
  2. You must be ok with not knowing where everyone is. If working remotely is an option for you, it doesn’t matter now. Everyone is a phone call/IM/email away whether it’s from the office down the hall or the coffee shop.
  3. There’s more of a focus in your results and outcomes, rather than how long you’ve stayed for the day. You have a task to do, and you need to manage yourself in getting that done.
  4. It’s not a bad thing, there shouldn’t be a negative connotation to it. If you have one bad egg complaining about people working from home, they are going to ruin it for everyone. On the other hand, if you have one person blowing off the day saying they are working from home, they are going to ruin it to everyone. It’s a new mindset.
  5. You do need to not work once in a while too. When there’s no clear definition of where work ends, and home life begins, it all becomes one. It’s so easy to work from home, sometimes it’s hard not to. This is something I struggle with, I see my laptop just sitting there after dinner, and think I’ll just do a few things to get a head start on tomorrow. Next thing you know, it’s too late to walk the dog and the laundry didn’t get done.

I love companies that see the value in letting employees work how (when and where) they want. Think about it, if people are given the freedom to choose how they want to work, they’ll choose to work the way the work best. Like the hustle and bustle of the busy office? Great. Prefer your quiet home office? That’s great too. Want to be that dude typing away at Starbucks? That’s fine too..

Flexible work environments are something I’m passionate about, and it’s even easier with Office 365! This will be the topic of our December Office Webinar: Working remotely and/or working with geographically dispersed teams. It will be on Dec. 6th at 10:00am. Sign up here: December Office Webinar.

Have questions you would like me to cover? Send them over to me (patti@simplex-it.com).