Rules from the Road: Early Lessons

@amylizmartin

Coffee TimeAs you may have heard, Team Kugler packed up shop and moved across the country. One small act in a massive amount of change that has enveloped our life over the past year. As a part of that transition, my organization is allowing me to work remotely from Seattle, and I’m very fortunate to have a flexible arrangement (as well as wonderful friends and family that have allowed us to live rent-free for a few months). Since August, I took week to move across the country, prepped and helped organize our biggest conference in the past few years and launched a new video for the organization (more on that later), all the while planning initiatives for 2014. It was vital to develop discipline and routine during these first few months of working remotely in order to be successful. And I’ve researched and learned as much as I could along the way.

In this space of telecommuting and flexible work environments, I feel like there needs to be one more addition to the conversation:

What are some of the tips and tricks of working remotely?

Gini Dietrich and her team made a commitment to remote work, and a lot of my daily routine is thanks to their example. (You should read Spin Sucks, really. They put it better than I can.) Here are some things I discovered over the past few months:

  1. Make your space your own – Boundaries are a priority when it comes to work, so making your “space” extends well beyond your desk and computer. If you’re an organizer like me, the motto “a place for everything and everything in it’s place” is your hallmark. Make sure you spend the time to have your files, post-its, pens, computer, databases and more in order before you begin. Beyond that, make sure your family and significant others (and pets!) understand what time is work and what time is flexible. You can also allow yourself the work breaks you’d normally have in an office setting – although your breaks can also include making cookies or doing laundry. Most days, I opt for the former.
  2. Be flexible and learn your own work style – Chances are, your shift to a flexible work arrangement will come with it’s own growing pains. Maybe you realize after a few months that you miss the camaraderie of the office. Maybe you discover that your 6 a.m. – 3 p.m. schedule (ahem, Amy!!) leaves you drained by Friday at 10 a.m. Ultimately, if your boss is allowing you to determine what work situation works best for you, do yourself the favor and take time to reflect for yourself. You might find that your preconceived notions about how to work best from home will not work for you at all – and you need to be flexible in order to determine a good fit.
  3. Be present – I hear what you’re saying: “Huh, Amy? I’m not in the office. What does “being present” mean? While you’re not physically in a workplace and talking with your colleagues around the water cooler, you should go above and beyond trying to connect with them in ways that work for all of you. My colleagues have embraced Google + and Google Hangouts as a way to stay in touch. In fact, I video chat/talk/communicate with each of them at least once a day. But, being present goes beyond just getting online and saying hi. It’s most effective when you approach the conversation with a purposeful list of things that need to be discussed. Distraction is the easiest way to kill productivity (and potentially a colleague’s trust) when you’re video chatting.
  4. Meetups and co-working spaces are your friend – I don’t care if you swing from one end of the Myers Briggs personality spectrum to another – humans were made to connect with other humans. While I’d like to think that the two Boston terriers currently in my lap can have a conversation with me, it is vitally important to connect with others who are like-minded and homo sapiens. Not only that, but it helps refresh your perspective of why you love your job and helps bring some new, innovative ideas to the table. Win-win for all.

I could go on with about five or six bullet points on best practices, but I think we should save those for another time. The Rules from the Road series will be a permanent fixture on the blog and we’ll cover this issue from all perspectives. Grab your Moleskine notebooks, ballpoint pens and let’s go for the ride!

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