Working from home successfully requires discipline, long hours, constant contact with your team/manager, extra effort to be visible and acceptance that you’re not actually there.
I’ve been working from home in some capacity for nearly four years, and full time since joining Adobe in early 2010. While it may not be for everyone, here’s what works for me:
- Dress for work. I like to go through my morning routine as if I were going into the office. I shower in the morning and dress professionally every day – including a button-down shirt tucked in. I didn’t do this at first, but found it helps me get into the right mindset to be productive, especially early in the morning when I do my best creative work. Looking the part, even when no one will see me all day, helps me feel razor sharp.
- Have breakfast or lunch out. When you work from home, you’ll spend a lot of time thinking and miss the small social events you typically find in an office setting. No water cooler, no lunch plans with colleagues, no office parties, no gossip, no nothing. I like to have either breakfast or lunch in town. I see people I know and fulfill my social needs.
- Expect to do more. I don’t commute 30 minutes or an hour or more in each direction. Instead I spend that time working. The more I get done, the greater impact I can have with my team especially when I’m not physically there.
- Video conference regularly. Email is great, phone calls too, but there’s nothing like face-to-face communication, even when it’s virtual. I’m fortunate to have a manager that supports my working remotely and I have an HD video-conferencing unit in my home office. It makes an amazing difference during my weekly 1:1s and team meetings. If you don’t have Telepresence, don’t fret, you can Skype or GChat with video too.
- Write, journal and blog. When you spend this much time in your own head, it’s a requirement to write. Take time to reflect on what you’re learning through the lens of ‘how can this benefit my team?’ and share your reflections in your staff meetings, in a journal or on a blog. I write poetry in the morning to help sharpen my creative focus before tackling my inbox, to-do’s, etc.
- Build your brand. Engage in the social web. Find thought partners in your field, follow them, join a Twitter chat, listen to what’s being said, find your voice, share your thoughts, recalibrate your thinking. Think of the social web as a learning device. Get out there and build a reputation for yourself and your company by being authentic, passionate and kind.
- Synchronize your schedule. My entire team is on the west coast. I’m in New York. It’s an honor and privilege to work from home. There are times when my meeting run late (my time). That’s part of my commitment to my team. I want them to know that I’m willing to do what it takes for our team to be successful. We’re also a global company and you’re either up early or late, or your friends in India are. Take turns. It’s the right thing to do.
Do you work remotely? What’s working for you? Have any questions for me? Let’s discuss!
– By Justin Mass, the Senior Learning Technologist at Adobe. Justin experiments with, tests, recommends and implements technology solutions to support Adobe’s global learning strategy. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @jmass and check out his blog at practitionersperspective.com