This post was written by Mike Asbury, a Pexip employee and long-time remote worker. Mike splits his time between home offices in Tennessee and Florida.
Let me first say that I am an extrovert.
I am the grandson of an extroverted grandfather who was a talented saxophone player, a traveling salesman, and a jokester to beat all jokesters. With that lineage, I come by my extroversion honestly. Having spent the bulk of my adult life working in offices and among humans, I grew accustomed to the luxury of dropping in on coworkers and entertaining the same. Casual drop-ins became the norm for me and my coworkers, and it became a critical part of how we worked together.
When I first became a home-based worker, I was concerned that I would feel isolated. I was nervous I would be bored and struggle to find work to do. Sure, I had the means to communicate with my coworkers, but would it be sufficient to replace what I had become accustomed to over many years of in-office work?
With that question in mind, let me share five surprising things I learned over these years as a remote worker:
1. Your work space really matters.
Having a dedicated office space gives me focus and clarity. Don’t get me wrong. I know a lot of people work just fine from their dining room table or kitchen island, and I do that, too. My office, though, gives me the opportunity to have all of my resources at my fingertips. I have a professional backdrop for video meetings. I have all of my tools right here, and I can easily get into a groove that allows me to focus on my work. Incoming video calls are like drop-ins, and I manage those just as I did for so many years before. This is where I am clear on what I expect to accomplish. I set daily goals for myself, and I know when I sit in this (comfortable) chair, I’m in it to win it!
2. Moving is good!
Stretching my legs and leaving the room mimics what I used to do in the office, and it doesn’t have to forsake socializing. I don’t have a coffee maker in my office, and I probably never will. I like walking to the kitchen for refills. I like leaving the office for a snack or lunch. Heck, sometimes I even leave the house for lunch! I have always been a phone pacer. When I’m on the phone, I stand up, pace, and process all at once. It’s almost instinctive for me to stand up when I get a phone call! I use hands-free headphones when I talk on the phone, so I can walk to the mailbox, up and down the stairs outside, around the entire house, and I get the added benefit of productivity and getting my steps in! If I sat in the chair all day, it would get monotonous and unhealthy. Moving is good!
3. Postal and delivery workers will become your friends.
My postal and delivery personnel are really nice folks! Honestly, I’m not certain I had ever met our postal carrier. Charlie, that’s his name, is a super nice guy and very friendly. He goes out of his way to make sure packages are in the dry for us and even texts me photos of unusual deliveries as he starts his route now to make sure we’ll be home to sign for stuff. We also have steady UPS and Fedex delivery folks who are likewise very friendly and helpful. In all, they’re like brief drop-ins that offer a break in the day and in-person contact that is sometimes lacking for remote workers.
4. Laundry is overrated.
I am far less distracted by non-work responsibilities than I assumed I would be. I always heard people say that laundry and other household chores would pose too great a temptation when working remotely. I mean, really? Laundry? Granted, there was no option for doing laundry while I worked in an office environment, but it was never something I missed. Seriously, though, I have had no problem being disciplined to my work and focusing on my responsibilities.
Personally, I have always found that having long-term projects within my work gives me a change of pace when needed.
Through conversations, I have found that people who are more easily distracted by non-work responsibilities are so distracted because they get bored or need a change of scenery. On a sunny day, I can easily take my laptop to the back deck and work as effectively as I can in my office. I can take video calls from the sunroom occasionally. I can work through substantial lists of contacts that I need to make when my other daily routine delivers unexpected downtime. Have a long-term project in your back pocket!
5. Video can take you anywhere.
I travel a LOT more than I used to, but not how you might think. In fact, I am regularly in multiple states and countries. Just last week, I was in Norway, Argentina, Georgia, Chicago, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Herndon, North Carolina, Boston, Tennessee, and Florida (several times). Sadly, I didn’t rack up nearly as many frequent flier miles as I'd like, though.
That's because I was in all those places last week via video.
It was a busy week, for sure, but I did it all from my home office. In fact, my home office was in Florida last week, and in Tennessee this week. I benefit from working for a company that values remote workers a great deal and empowers each of us with the technology to take advantage of Pexip’s global quality-assured network for on-demand video collaboration.
Needless to say, I have acclimated to remote work quite effectively over these years. I am fortunate to have the flexibility that I do in my work. I realize that not everyone is as lucky as I am, but many people are, and I hope the lessons that have surprised me are also beneficial to others.
If you’re finding yourself working remotely for the first time, take heart! It is entirely possible to be engaged, happy, productive, and effective in a remote environment. Even those of us who lean toward extroversion can thrive remotely. Just remember to stretch your legs and say hello to your postal carrier!