Working remotely has many advantages for employees and their employers including lower cost for both, added flexibility, reduced stress, and often improved satisfaction and quality of life. However, a few extra challenges come with managing your desk remotely including:
- Internet bandwidth and consistency
- Family interruptions due to easy access
- Greater dependency on self-motivation
Speaking from experience dealing with all of those issues, I’m going to mention some best practices that have worked for me to address those potential challenges.
For internet bandwidth and consistency, it is important to review options regularly since new technologies and internet sources evolve over time. With the heavy reliance on internet for video meetings, webinars, and a huge reliance on cloud-based functions, it’s worth considering all options and testing effectiveness before committing to long-term agreements. Many rural locations have no options other than DSL, especially if you are surrounded by trees that limit satellite or dish options. A last resort option that has been manageable for me is using multiple hotspot devices. Each device has a monthly, limited amount of high-speed capacity, so I use three of the devices which costs similar to typical high-speed internet service from other sources.
There’s no way to eliminate all family interruptions in your home office, but that’s not the goal since the smiling face of a toddler can be an amazing pick-me-up. A professional impression can be maintained in home-office calls and webinars with proactive communication of expectations to family on how to enter your office. Consider devising your own set of hand signals to communicate if you are on a call or for family to let you know the level of emergency. Based on personal experience, that works well for kids in middle school or older. That strategy is less effective for early grade school kids. For toddlers, a quick press of the phone mute button may be your necessary skill.
Self-Motivation and Reward
For motivation in a remote role, best results come from a combination of self-motivating practices plus reliance on a supportive spouse/partner and select coworkers who pump you up with positive perspectives and a willingness to listen to occasional venting. Communicating to a spouse that a certain level of achievement will result in an exotic trip can create a motivator who happens to live with you.
Effective self-motivation happens with a combination of effective written and visible, daily and weekly goals that align with your long-term goals, a thoughtfully planned calendar with electronic reminders of critical tasks, and reinforcement activities such as celebrations of small and large successes. My simple celebration example I used in my first job, as I opened a new sales district for a seed brand, was to treat myself to a piece of pie (a la mode of course) at my favorite diner each time I hired a new seed dealer. It was a symbolic and tasty pat-on-the-back that tied a pleasant experience to a tough task with many ups and downs. The motivator is most effective if it is visual and affects multiple senses.
Working remotely has great benefits for both you and your employer so it is worth extra effort to create an environment of success for your career and work-life balance. Another new customer or problem solved? Time for some pie.