Working Remotely – PJs, Static Phone Calls and the Need for Routine

“We don’t want to lose you, so we would love for you to stay on the team and work remotely.” I don’t know that I have ever heard words so sweet, well, except for when I got married … those words were pretty sweet. But in the moment, these words sounded just as amazing. I looked at both my bosses and replied, “So, you’re telling me, I can just work from home and stay on the team?” “Yup,” was their response. This was going to be good.

After I got married, my husband’s job transferred us to Dallas. And no, Dallas isn’t a suburb of Jax Beach…trust me, I asked. It was the real Dallas…the one in Texas. Home of the Cowboys, Billy Bob’s Honky Tonk and not a single beach within 300 miles. Although trusting my husband came naturally, picking up and moving away from family, friends and what could possibly be the best job I have ever had wasn’t as easy.

I settled into our new home halfway across the country on a Sunday and when Monday morning rolled around, I got up and began my day. Still in my pjs, I made breakfast and a cup of coffee and sat on the couch with my laptop. As I began to check my emails, something caught my eye. The dishes. Yup, the dishes were just sitting there needing attention, my attention. I looked around…dirty laundry, dusting and other household chores were calling my name. Working from home wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. It was at that moment that I knew I needed to set up a routine to keep myself on track. So here are my quick top five survival tips when working from home:

Shower. Seems simple enough and I know what you are probably thinking. Ew. Who wouldn’t shower when they get up? Well, someone who doesn’t have anywhere to go, that’s who. Showering first thing and actually getting ready for the day, even if it’s just to sit at your dining room table, puts you into the right mindset. It leaves you feeling determined to get the day going and to accomplish something. Put on a fresh set of clothes, full hair and makeup if you want (and if you’re a woman probably) and get ready to work it, girl. Literally. Get to work.

Find your spot. Laying in bed? Probably not your spot. Although comfortable and cozy, it’s just that: comfortable and cozy, and probably where you’ll drift off reading emails or writing blogs. Plus, on the flip side, at the end of the work day, you want your bed to be a place for sleep without associating it as your desk. Trust me, find another spot where you can sit up straight and concentrate. For some of you, it may be a home office, and for others, the local coffee shop. Either way, find the spot that works best for you and offers little to no distractions.

Routine. You have to set up a schedule, because if you don’t, then you’ll spend your entire morning watching the Today Show which slowly fades into Season 1000 of Days of Our Lives (yes, still on the air.) Setting up a routine allows you to stay on track, be more productive and make the best use of your time. Even setting aside 30-60 minutes for a legitimate lunch gives you something to work hard toward each morning.

Headphones. These little guys work wonders. Smartphone speakers just don’t cut it when you’ve got 12 people on the other end of the line. Using headphones can be a true lifesaver for those Monday morning conference calls, helping you hear loudly and clearly, and making you feel not-so-far-away after all. You’ll feel more connected, just like you were in the room, which you’re not. Heh, heh.

Communicate. On the headphones note, it’s challenging to feel like you’re part of the team when you’re in your living room thousands of miles away. Speak to members of your team daily, send them emails, text messages, Facetime … let them know you’re alive and around if they need anything at all. It’s the best way to remain a team player. Out of sight, out of mind…out of job. So stay. In. Touch.

Working remotely is more than pjs and a comfy place to sit. It’s a privilege and a responsibility that demands time, patience and self-discipline. If you’re having a challenging time making it work for you, I encourage you to open the lines of communication with your boss and ask him/her for guidance and advice. In the end, you’ll be glad you did; and most of all, so will they.