8063 Dave Neely, Class of 1969, Speakers Series: Becoming an Effective Remote Employee

Becoming an Effective Remote Employee

Submitted by:  8063 Dave Neely – D.K. Neely and Associates

Hi, I am a member of the RMC Class of 69. I am a Frigateer and I can still recite the names of the Old 18.

In recalling my recruit year, two examples come to mind. I quickly realized that one way to avoid some punishment was to learn the names of Old 18. I mastered it so well that I can still recite them today. Forgive any spelling errors as follows: “May I Say: Wurtele, Freer, Wise, Davis, Reed, Denison, Irving, Davis, DesBrisay, Rivers, Spelman, Fairbank, Perry, Cochrane, Dixon, Perley, Keefer, MacPherson”

The second example is that I noticed a classmate was missing from early morning room inspection. When I asked him why, he explained that he had joined the band which had an early breakfast (hot, I might add) before the daily practice. That sounded great to me so I joined the RMC Pipe band and missed a ton of inspections and punishment. I learned to love the bagpipes as well. The point here is that in any tough situation you always have options, you simply need to understand how to deal with the stress and think it through calmly.

Remote Employee Strategies
The following are strategies you might want to consider if you are working remotely. It is based on an article from Targeted Training International – Enjoy!

1. Maintain Regular Hours
Set a schedule, and stick to it…most of the time. Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps many remote workers maintain work-life balance. That said, one of the benefits of remote work is flexibility, and sometimes you need to extend your day or start early to accommodate someone else’s time zone. When you do, be sure to adjust the next day to make up for it. Figure out what times of day you’re most productive versus when you slack off and then reserve your hours of high focus for your most important tasks.

2. Create a “Getting Started” Routine
Deciding you’ll sit down at your desk and start work at a certain time is one thing. Creating a routine that guides you into the chair is another. What in your routine indicates you’re about to start work? It might be making a cup of coffee. It might be returning home after a jog. It might be getting dressed. A routine can be more powerful than a clock at helping you get started each day.

3. Set Ground Rules for Others
Set ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space for when you work. If you have children who come home from school while you’re still working, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. Additionally, just because you’re home and can let service people into the house or take care of pets doesn’t mean other family members should assume you will always do it. If that’s how you choose to divide up the domestic labor, that’s fine, but if you simply take it all on by default because you’re home, you may feel taken advantage of, and your productivity may suffer.

4. Schedule Breaks
know your company’s policy on break times and take them. If you’re self-employed, give yourself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen and phone. A lunch hour and two 15-minute breaks seems to be the standard for full-time US employees.

5. Take Breaks in Their Entirety
Don’t short-change yourself during breaks, especially your lunch hour. . You can just launch a simple clock or timer on the screen when you take a break. If you return to your desk after only 40 minutes, walk away for another 20.

6. Leave Home
You don’t have to eat out every day, but try to leave your home or work space regularly. The same advice applies to people who work in traditional office settings, too. Leave the building at least once a day. Your body needs to move. Plus, the fresh air and natural light will do you good. Take a walk. Weed the garden. You get the picture.

7. Ask for What You Need
If you’re employed by a company or organization that supports your work-from-home setup, request the equipment you need as soon as you start working from home, or within a day or two when you realize you need something new. It’s extremely important to set precedents early that you will ask for what you need to get your job done comfortably. Organizations that are accustomed to remote employees often have a budget for home office equipment. If you’re working from home unexpectedly due to coronavirus, ask for what you need within reason. You could be working from home for weeks on end and you should be comfortable, but ordering a new office chair and desk might be asking too much. Consider a mouse and keyboard, plus a back-supporting cushion instead.

8. Have a Dedicated Work Space
Dedicate a desk and some peripherals only for work use. For example, when your laptop is hooked up to the monitor and external keyboard, it’s work time. When it’s on your lap, that’s personal time. You may want to go as far as partitioning your hard drive and creating a separate user account for work.

9. Socialize With Colleagues
Loneliness, disconnect, and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially for extroverts. Companies with a remote work culture usually offer ways to socialize. For example, they might have chat channels where remote employees can talk about common interests, meetups for people in the same region, and in-person retreats. It’s important to figure out how much interaction you need to feel connected and included. Even if you’re highly introverted and don’t like socializing, give a few interactive experiences a try so that you’re familiar with them if you ever decide you want them. If you’re not at a company with a strong remote culture, you may need to be more proactive about nurturing relationships.

10. “Show Up” to Meetings and Be Heard
It’s a good idea to attend optional online or phone meetings sometimes, too. Be sure to speak up during the meeting so everyone knows you’re on the call. A simple, “Thanks, everyone. Bye!” at the close of a meeting will go a long way toward making your presence known.

11. Get Face Time –Social Distancing vs. Social Isolation
For those unexpectedly working from home who are also trying to reduce face-to-face contact, set up a video call with your colleagues or manager once a week to check in. If you are long-term remote employee, try to have an annual or semi-annual trip in your contract. It could be for annual planning, training, or team building. Or, tack it onto some other business event, such as a yearly fiscal meeting, nearby conference, or office holiday party. Don’t wait around for someone to invite you to the office or an event. Be proactive. Note: I use “ZOOM” to increase my face time with others.

12. Take Sick Days
When you’re not well, take the sick time you need. Keep in mind that sometimes it’s best to rest and get better so that you can be your most productive self in the long term.

13. Look for Training Opportunities
When you’re not in an office with your fellow employees, you might miss out on training and skills development courses either online or that are taught in person or online. You might be missing out on an opportunity to learn something useful. Speak up and make sure you’re included. For people who work remotely 100% of the time, look for learning opportunities that are taught at the company’s headquarters or your closest office. That way, you get training and face time with colleagues.

14. Over Communicate
Working remotely requires you to over communicate. Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability often. When you finish a project or important task, say so. Over communicating doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write a five-paragraph essay to explain your every move, but it does mean repeating yourself. Joke about how you must have mentioned your upcoming vacation six times already, then mention it again.

15. Be Positive
When you work remotely full-time, you must be positive, to the point where it may feel like you’re being overly positive. Otherwise, you risk sounding like a jerk. It’s unfortunate, but true. So embrace the exclamation point! Find your favorite emoji : You’re going to need them.

16. Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
The most successful remote employees have a reputation for being extremely disciplined. If you find yourself working one minute and booking flights for your upcoming vacation the next, don’t reprimand yourself too harshly. Instead, ask yourself whether people in an office setting do the same thing. If the answer is yes, cut yourself some slack, then get back to work.

17. End Your Day With a Routine
Just as you should start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the close of the workday. It might be a sign off on a business app, a dog walk or a yoga class. Something as simple as shutting down your computer and turning on a favorite podcast will do. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of working hours.

18. Make It Personal
Above all else, figure out what works best for you. Sometimes the answer is apparent, but other times you might need some inspiration from other people who are in the same boat. A supportive community of remote employees does exist, whether you find them in your organization or online through blogs or Twitter.

19. Keep Work and Personal Lives Separate
I use a “WORRY JAR” in my office, which an empty mason jar designed to keep my work worries at work and my home worries at home. If at the end of the day, I have a work concern or issue, I write it out on a post-it note and drop it in the jar. The next day I retrieve the note and begin again to deal with it. It works like a charm for me – try it yourself.

In Summary
I have been self-employed for over 30 years and these ideas have proven themselves to be invaluable for all of that time. I hope it helps you to be more productive and successful. If you need clarification feel free to call me at 613 546 6532 or email me at [email protected]

My most important message for today’s environment is that of Emotional Intelligence. You can review a video clip here for further insight: https://youtu.be/jfwgCAm3PuA The video was created so that I can share the message with as many people as possible in this terrible time. If you like it, please share it with your networks.

8063 Dave Neely – D.K. Neely and Associates