7 New Rules When Working Remotely
When the phone alarm went off in the morning and we knew a new day of work was coming up, we’d get up, get ready and put on an outfit we were comfortable wearing to leave the house. When we returned, we left the computer at work, except for the busier periods.
We didn’t need to email our department colleague because we knew we’d see him in the open space the next day, and if we approached him/her directly, there was a good chance we’d get what we needed much more quickly.
This is how the working day began and ended when we went to the office almost every day: we had many automatisms and rituals that we didn’t have to test until now, when working from home has gained momentum.
As usual, for the most important changes in life, we don’t have a manual to guide us. But if there were, it would certainly include rules and principles to follow to make our lives easier.
Here are 7 new rules of remote work to support you during this period:
1. Manage your energy, not time
In a culture generally hostile to the idea of free time, where relaxing is considered unproductive, replenishing your energy reserves has never been high on the agenda, at least not until now.
We overlook the fact that thinking consumes a lot of energy and in order to concentrate and work efficiently we need oxygen. Without fail, sources of distraction seem to have multiplied these days and this makes energy management a necessary skill.
The new rule is to schedule your day for energy and focus and this requires many of us to be aware of how we invest, waste and recycle our energy throughout the day.
2. Define what you want in the short and long term
They say good luck comes when preparation meets opportunity.
Given that the goal creates the destination, there’s no better time than now to start putting down on paper what you want your future to look like, especially if you’re at a crossroads right now.
Waiting to see how things settle down is by no means a viable plan. So, even if the future looks foggy, you can start by defining what your goal is at this moment.
3. Understand your role
Because we were mentioning preparation and opportunities, we often fall into the trap of thinking that we know what our role is: how many times are you involved in long email exchanges just because those involved don’t know where their function begins and ends?
If you no longer wish to feel stuck at home at a stage in your career where you feel you are not progressing, the first step is to understand your role in the team and organization, but also to understand how this experience fits into the bigger picture of your career.
4. Dress appropriately
The new work model brings new fashion choices for those of us working remotely. However, make sure the style is to your advantage.
When you work from home, it may be tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day, but being mindful of what you wear then can help set the tone for the day and contribute to your overall well-being.
What’s more, they say smiling “sounds good” on the phone. I think that the way we feel in the clothes we wear also “feels good” in online communication.
5. Choose your words carefully
When most of the work is done remotely, the way you write becomes your business card. You will be judged by how well and easily you make yourself understood as well as how clear, specific, engaging and appropriate the tone of your communications is. Moreover, the number of clarifications and additional questions that are needed will also be a measure of your message’s success.
For those who want to stay competitive and visible and who want to easily reach audiences, even when they are within the organization, then improving your writing and storytelling skills is a good investment of time and money.
6. Know the unwritten rules
To relieve financial stress, work pressure, anxiety and fears of instability during this period, some take refuge in food, some in the virtual world and some in alcohol.
If in some cultures and organizations a glass of wine or a beer over lunch with colleagues is an accepted practice, what is the practice when working from home?
Precisely because these topics are highly sensitive, remember that what you don’t know can affect your career… and maybe it’s time to set some rules for yourself when it comes to such situations.
7. Knowing when to stay late and when to leave early
While for many of us it’s not a new challenge, what makes it even more intense is that access to the office is just a click away.
While for some, it’s a great temptation to have access to their work 24 hours a day, for others it’s a burden.
You may feel bad when you disconnect even though you’re after hours, but remember that it’s not enough to work hard and always be available, but it’s important to make sure that the results of your work are known and communicated further and obviously appreciated.
When everything happens in the same space, separating work and home life becomes a challenge. That’s why we need new rules to sustain our energy, tone and vitality throughout the day.
These are not rules designed to constrain us, but rather to free our minds and keep us engaged and productive. Finally yet importantly, their role is to remind us when to stop working and when to start again.