For the last 2 and a half years or so, I have had the opportunity to work remotely from the comfort of my own home, while still getting to avail of the luxuries of working full time for a great employer. Over the years, Hanapin has created an amazing RWE (Remote Work Environment) program, that has helped attract the best people in the industry, while maintain strong prospects, who entered into the Hana-family right out of college, wanting to branch out and live in other areas of the country.
To most people who work in an office, thinking working from home is the ultimate dream job, and in many cases it is. I get to avoid commuting 30 minutes each way, I can be home for a repairman, should I need to be, I get to play around with my dogs during my lunch break and I get to avoid stepping outside in the delightful Spokane winters.
While these are all great benefits, remote work can be tough, particularly in the winter. You can feel isolated, find it difficult to disconnect from work, get into a rut of inactivity. Below are some of the tips that I have found to be effective to make remote work a success.
Invest in your office
Working in an office, you are usually assigned a desk, given a chair, computer etc. When you work from home, your company will probably provide a second monitor, some may provide a furnishing budget, but if they don’t, make it look like a real office. Don’t settle for an old second hand desk and a rickety old chair. Your back and mental stability will thank you in the long run.
Personally, I invested in a standing desk from Autonomous.ai. It was a pricey option at the time, but I am grateful that I did. I can alternate from sitting to standing in a few seconds without having to adjust anything. Over time, i added small decorations and chairs, happy lights, whiteboards etc. Originally my office was our spare bedroom, giant spare bed and all. Over the summer, we decided to fully transform my “office” into an actual office, with plenty of space, little clutter etc.
Treat it like a normal work environment
Even though you are working from home, it is still your “work environment”. Make sure you create separation from home & work. When you leave “work” for the day, shut the door and try to avoid the office for the remainder of the evening, if possible. It really helps with the mental aspect of being a work only space.
Also, be prepared to actually dress relatively normal. While the lure of sweatpants and hoodies seem amazing, and will occasionally happen, try to prepare yourself as if it is a normal office job. Does this mean, suit up every day and look like you are running for congress… No, but something that would not be ashamed to wear to your office or outside amongst civilization. It helps break away from the relaxed feeling sweats or PJs can bring.
Get out of the house
This may sound counter intuitive, but it is necessary. Working from home, can lure you into a false sense of security and you become comfortable in never having to leave the house during the week. It can also bring on severe cabin fever. Try to take a day every week, or bi-weekly to work from somewhere else, like a coffee shop, or a co-working space. It is a great reminder that there is a world outside of your little bubble. Personally, I go to a local co-working space at least once a week. It has great light, a lot of space, free coffee, phone booths for calls and most importantly PEOPLE. Even if you don’t interact with many people there, it is just nice sometimes to be around the usual office noise.
Communicate with your team
Because at Hanapin, we have more than 20 people who work remotely, we have found multiple ways to interact with the head office and reduce the feeling of being disconnected. We use im’s to communicate internally for “non-scheduled” conversations, and video chat for meetings. I have found Video chat to be much more valuable in a meeting scenario, just because a.) you can read body language and b.) you actually see a human person.
Ultimately, remote working is great, there are very few drawbacks to it. I get to work in a comfortable environment, while still working with a great company and, get to have my wife hangout with me during the summer and hangout with my dogs all day during the winter.