Tips for Working From Home
When I started working at Heller Consulting in 2001, time management was very simple. Every day I was booked onsite for a full day with a local client here in the Bay Area. I dealt with emails and phone calls in the available spaces in mornings, middays and evenings. Pretty simple, right?
Fast forward a few years and technology has made it possible for us to do more work remotely. Now it is very common for our (much larger) team to work productively from offices, co-working spaces, and home offices around the country. We’ve developed a philosophy and approach to remote work that supports our consultants and encourages teamwork. Here are some tips and tricks we’ve put together for ourselves over the years.
It is vitally important to begin each week with a plan for how your time is going to be spent. Without a plan, you will find yourself at 10:30 in the morning wondering if you should go start a load of laundry. For example, my weeks always consist of a mix of client work, product development work, and knowledge management work. I know the proportion of my week that should be spent on each area and I block out the time on my calendar.
Know whether you are a “Maker” or a “Manager”; or, like me, you have elements of both. This article has been influential in our thinking of how time should be scheduled. If you need to “make” something, it’s worth it to block out at least 3 hours without interruptions. I often plan my days in a 1-3-3-1 pattern, for example (one hour at the beginning and end of the day to deal with small tasks, and two 3-hour chunks where I can focus on a particular project or area).
Figure out what your most productive time of day is and schedule your most challenging or important work for that time as much as you can. If you are a morning person, your day does not have to begin with email!
Maybe you don’t have to keep to a 9-5 schedule. This one is a double-edged sword; if you opt for flexibility during the day, you could find yourself working more than you meant to on evenings and weekends. What’s the best fit for you and your business?
There’s just no substitute for face-to-face interactions whenever possible, and we take that very seriously when planning our projects. However, when it’s not feasible, it’s still really important to seek out points of human contact.
It’s way more fun (and often faster) to call a colleague or client instead of typing yet another email, especially someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.
We’ve set up coworking spaces around the country for regional colleagues to frequently work face-to-face.
Video chat! Ahem, OK, I’m not exactly jumping on the bandwagon here, but I think 2014 will be the year we make video chats and meetings part of everyday business. Guess I’ll have to straighten up my office (or maybe get a folding screen!)
What are your tips for working remotely?