It’s been almost exactly three years since Covid re-imagined the workplace, pushing millions of people into remote work nearly overnight. Remote work was a shipwreck back then. Today, it’s a choice. Maybe not every day and maybe not for every employee, but remote work is here to stay. This time, it’s not a pandemic calling the shots – but all of us, everyone who works remotely or in an office with remote workers. Here’s our tips for reclaiming remote work:
Get your mind right.
Remote work came to most of us as part of the early crisis days of Covid – and some of that unsettled emotion can still hang over the idea of working remotely. You might wonder: Am I asking for something no one else gets? Is in-person work the gold standard and working from home is … something less than that? But here’s the thing: It’s 2023. If you are working remotely today, it’s because you and your employer have chosen it. So, believe that you are additive. Your employer obviously does.
Call. Don’t write.
Email and text chats are part of any modern office, remote or not. It’s tempting – especially when you rarely see your co-workers – to use texting and email as your main way of communicating. But if it’s important, call or video chat. Written language developed around 3400 B.C. But humans are the only primates – the only animal, period – that communicates with speech the way we do and we’ve been talking for 300,000 years. Our brains are highly attuned to speech and we pick up significantly more information through voice communication than written, making a phone call or video call the most efficient way to work with fewer misunderstandings, especially emotional ones.
In a physical office, we have numerous social interactions that seem like nothing: Chatting by the coffee maker. Leaning into a doorway just to say hi. Remote workers miss all of that. Create connection where you can – and that can mean taking the first step. Make small talk. Share something about yourself.
Don’t forget to go outside.
When you work from home, it’s possible to be inside – and sort of at your desk – for hours. For all day, really. And days on end. You never walk from the car to the office. You don’t run out for coffee. You don’t run out for lunch. If you want direct sunlight – and, friends, you NEED direct sunlight – you have to build that into your day. Take a walk around the block in the ten minutes before you commute the eleven steps from the kitchen to the office. Make your lunch up the night before and take a walk over your lunch hour. One way to make this actionable in Montana: Keep one pair of shoes with your ice cleats always on. That eliminates the need to “get ready.” You’ll be happier (and more productive!).