Working Remotely…Why Its Important to Know, Before You Go!

For the past decade I have found myself working in quiet settings (for the most part), offices that were made up of no more than 5 people on the average day, but recently I embarked on a new (remote) work adventure. As a member of the new workforce, I showed no fear at the idea of working from a location far away (geographically) from the rest of my team. Lets be real working at a computer, talking on the phone, and using a webcam were all a very normal part of my life as someone who is a borderline Millennial (depending on the defined years). These 5 things I have learned in my experience are important for you as you think about making the step to a remote workplace.

1) Know Yourself.

If you have a challenge working unless you are “at work”, this might not be the setting for you. If you enjoy quiet as you work, allowing you to focus deeply, this might be the right setting for you. If you need to be in front of people often and have a lack of comfort with technology, this might not be the setting for you. And so on. 

The key is, to evaluate yourself and your specific needs, before you take the plunge!

2) Find Outlets.

You will need to set up (productive) interactions with people. Regardless of your intravert/extravert tendencies, we all need people to help spark the work that we do. Be strategic in setting up lunch meetings, phone calls, coffee house interactions, or other similar engagements that will allow you to stay engaged with people that help you move your sphere of work forward.

IMG_20140805_192222

3) Get Up. Go Outside. Stretch. Relax. 

While you may not see outside your office when you are in a traditional work setting, you at least are likely to get up and move around. Working remotely, it is easy to get into flow of work which is only interrupted by the crick in your back or neck that comes from having failed to move in hours. Get up, go see the outside, move around, and even relax. The truth is you are saving your organization time and money by not being in a typical office setting so use a little of that to maintain your health and sanity!

4) Be Disciplined.

Going down a rabbit hole is easy, regardless of your setting, but in a remote workspace (especially if you are working from home) this can be particularly dangerous. Make sure that you set up your schedule in increments (find something that works for you – maybe the Pomodoro technique) and be disciplined about not getting lost or straying too far from the core of your work. Give your brain down times, but be careful about getting lost on peripheral things that have little impact on your work.

5) Eat (in other places besides your desk).

Seriously, what is worse than eating food at your desk (ok, so there are more than a few things I could list). This is the one that to me becomes dangerous to your functioning. It is important for your brain and body to have different settings. Moving can help differentiate actions, it also allows the blood to flow and the brain to engage new images and stimulants. If nothing else, eating somewhere else (even another room in the same location) gives you a break from the routine and helps refresh you. 

Overall, the opportunity to work remotely increases flexibility for workers and organizations alike. Be mindful about these 5 areas (and others, share below) and you will set yourself up for success!

*It is important to note that working remotely, doesn’t specifically mean that you are working in your home office. There are a variety of workspace options present in the marketplace today that go beyond just being at home.. 

Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast

BreakfastThis famous statement attributed to Peter Drucker, the leadership/management guru (though there is no proof he ever said that) is one of my favorites! This doesn’t make strategy un-important, but it does dig down to the reality that undergirds successful organizations – PEOPLE and PRACTICES!
Adam Bryant, in the first chapter of book Quick and Nimble describes culture like this:
 
“A successful culture is like a greenhouse where people and ideas can flourish – where everybody in the organization, regardless of rank or role, feels encouraged to speak frankly and openly and is rewarded for sharing ideas about new products, more efficient processes, and better ways to serve customers” (p. 11)
 
Both visuals are important culture. In both images, when culture eats strategy for breakfast and when culture is a greenhouse, you might say that culture is what continually forms an environment for the strategy to flourish. You can have a great strategy and terrible culture and you ultimately will fail. But try to find a place with a great culture (not just a fun culture) that doesn’t thrive?
 
People will go the extra mile in an organization with a great culture, they will personally bring their best, because they realize that they are valued as an active shaper of the organization as a whole. When that isn’t true…you hate getting up for work.
 
So if you lead…remember it starts with culture. If you are not a leader, by position, lead by example…set the tone for the organizational culture that you want to see, if this is rejected…keep your eyes open for other places that do get it!

Why Teamwork is a Dirty Word in B-School

Bloomberg BusinessWeek published a story last Friday about teamwork. The only problem was that it wasn’t a piece that glorified the value of teamwork. Instead it was insight into the fact that American business school students hate teamwork.

This is a must read, not because the story is so well done (though it is), but it is a must read because it shows that business schools and business students seem to believe that real work is only based on their work as individuals. In life, we must learn to rely on one another. We must understand how to collaborate and connect.

Can we work to change this type of thinking, or is it too late?

If quick fixes worked, wouldn’t more things already be fixed?

Truth be told, they often make me laugh. Until they make me sad. Quick fixes have been the rage for generations. Think about it, if those get rich quick ideas actually worked wouldn’t more people be rich? If those weight loss programs actually helped people lose weight and keep it off, don’t you think more people would be slim and obesity wouldn’t be such an issue in our country?

It is attributed that Philip Stanhope, former Earl of Chesterfield, once said “anything worth doing, is worth doing well.” Yet, that bring so much of the quick fix, band-aid orientation of our present culture into question.

How many leaders are searching for 3 simple steps to huge turnarounds in their organizations? How many entrepreneurs are looking for the 5 things that will suddenly make them millionaires? How many church leaders have bought into the notion that these 7 things will suddenly transform your church into a mega-church? The answer is too many!

All too often we settle for easy when true success means extra work. We fail to ask the question behind the question. We aren’t willing to invest our time and energy in the things that really have impact and because of that we are constantly looking for the next silver bullet.

What goals do you want to accomplish this year? How are you working to meet those goals?