It's noon, and I'm still in my pajamas, trying desperately to finish my article and take a shower. I work from home and why it sounds awesome, it isn't always awesome. Sticking to a routine isn't always easy. I never have to fight traffic, which is a huge benefit. But I also have to make an effort to keep to a routine and sometimes I have to fight the feeling of isolation. Today, my guest blogger weighs in with his thoughts on working from home and the surprising results of a new study on remote working.
Let me introduce you to Dan Schwabel. Dan has tons of knowledge at his fingertips. He's a guru on personal branding and an expert on millennials in the workplace. He is also the New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0, and the Research Director at Future Workplace. I think you're going to enjoy his perspective:
After I graduated college back in 2006, I landed my first full-time corporate job at a Fortune 200 company. As an introvert who needs space in order to think creatively and be productive, I always wanted the flexibility to work remote but never received that benefit. In fact, after my third role at the company, as their first social media specialist, I was told that I would have to run the social media accounts from the office daily. I once asked my manager if I could work from home at least part-time and he said “we can’t allow for that because it will make your colleagues jealous”. After I quit my job to start my own company, I finally was in a position to work remote seven days a week.
I’ve now been working from home almost full-time for over six years. I’m not alone in my quest for a more flexible work life. After interviewing over 25,000 employees globally, in partnership with Polycom, our study found that about three in every four employees say their company offers flexible working and almost a third regularly work remote. The emergence of collaborative technologies has enabled the remote workforce, lowering commuting costs and empowering people with the freedom to manage their personal and professional life.
The main finding from the study is that remote work is driving people to pick up the phone more and focus on personal relationships. I see this with my organization, as I feel the need to schedule more phone meetings in order to have a human connection despite being alone in my New York apartment. While working from home can be isolating, it can also be freeing but you have to manage your time wisely because no one else will hold you accountable but you.
In order to be successful working from home, I created my own daily habits that allow me to focus on the right work at the right time and take the necessary breaks so that I can incorporate my interests, friends and family into my life. For instance, every morning I wake up, cook breakfast while Amazon Alexa tells me the weather forecast, political news and HBR’s daily tip. Then, I focus on the most critical work first because I’m more productive earlier in the day. I’ll then take a coffee break, workout or go to lunch with one of my contacts. From there, I get right back to work before I make dinner or go to a local networking event. By creating, and committing to, a daily routine it can help you incorporate all aspects of your life that are important to you.
While I felt more isolated working independently over the years, now that I have a team, it has forced me to pick up the phone more, go to the office at least a few times each month and have some constant interactions each day. By feeling more connected to others, and having a support system, it’s had a positive impact on both my work and personal life.
Remote workers don’t have to struggle when it comes to maintaining balance and strong relationships. What they do have to do is put together a plan, establish daily habits and answer the most important question “what matters to me?” Once you decide what you care about, incorporate those activities and people into your daily life.
Here are some interesting quotes on the findings of the remote working survey:
“There is a stigma that remote workers are disconnected from the rest of the team, yet this study proves that they are more sociable and proactively reach out to develop strong relationships. The new technology tools that enable communication and collaboration are actually motivating workers to pick up the phone, seek face time and create lasting bonds. This is the upside of remote work we rarely talk about.”
– Jeanne Meister, Partner, Future Workplace
“We predicted that 2016 would be the ‘year of video’, and it’s satisfying to know that people are starting to adopt this way of working. What it also tells us is that more businesses need to be able to offer collaboration tools - to enable that human contact that people crave - or risk losing out to those businesses who are able to offer flexibility and have access to talent and retain talent as a result.”
– Mary McDowell, CEO, Polycom