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With an increasing number of people being asked to work from home, or work remotely, what are some of the things you’ll want to consider beyond engaging with your work? This article explores five key areas which can help you thrive as you work from home or work remotely. These are exploring context, focus, motivation, connections with others, and strengths.

In general, many things get magnified in the remote space – from clarity around communication, processes, roles, goals; to what we actually see on the screen. This means that we may need to be more intentional in sharing information, checking assumptions and confirming that our messages were understood in the way they were communicated.

Let’s look at five areas which come into focus or work remotely:

Context – A major challenge in the remote space is that we see each other usually only through the small window of the screen. As I share in my book, Effective Virtual Conversations, a great activity to undertake is “what’s outside your screen”? What can we do to share more about the context of our work? That might include:

  • Sharing a little more about what’s on your desk.
  • Sharing what’s outside your window.
  • Talking about what is a priority in your work.
  • Sharing more about the way work is done, or preferences are in your location (especially if you are a geographically distributed, or matrix, team).

What context pieces are important to share with your colleagues? What questions do you have for them?

Focus – Productivity can increase when moving to work in the remote space. A study by Stanford Business School, headed by Professor Nicholas Bloom found a 13% increase in productivity by those who WFH (Work From Home). You will find a copy of the original publication here at Professor Bloom’s site.

At the same time, there can be several distractions in the remote space that don’t exist in a traditional office. This might include noticing all the projects you haven’t completed around the house or feeling like you need to catch up on household chores.

Notice what you need to do to keep disciplined. It can be easy to pour yourself into work, and work non-stop, without any firm boundaries of a formal office start and end time. While you might sustain this for a short while, it is likely to lead to burnout. 

What are your formal hours of work going to be? What do you notice about what helps you to focus?

Motivation – When working remotely, we may need to rely on our own inner motivation and self-direction to get things done. For those who like to work autonomously, it’s great! Being clear on what WE need to excel as a team member, leader or business owner is important. What motivates you to do your best work? Note that motivators can be both internal – achievement or a sense of mastery, or external – money, visibility, recognition etc.

What motivates you to do your best work, virtually? How can that shape how you approach your work?

Make a point to connect in with others – When working from home, or remotely, it’s likely that you are going to feel more isolated than when you are able to connect with others at the office.

A remote working myth I often share is that “No person is an island” . Even when working remote, it is important to remember that we are still part of a team. Being intentional, and even scheduling in time to connect with each other verbally, and not just via text, Instant Message or Chat. Neuroscience has found that voice activates different parts of the brain, fostering a sense of connection.

What connection points are you scheduling for conversation with your team, customers and other stakeholders?

Explore your strengths. Given that we may need to be more self-reliant, it can be important to develop a greater self-awareness. How do you prefer to work? What are your style preferences? What are your strengths. Under times of stress and uncertainty we may over-leverage our strengths. When we do this, our strengths can become a blind spot, and our strengths get over magnified. So, if I have a love of learning I may keep learning, rather than getting work done. If a strength is around building relationships, I may put a focus on connecting with others and not on getting things done.

What are the strengths you bring to work? How does that help you get results? What do you need to be aware of in case your strengths get over-magnified?

For more on Motivation and Remote Work, check out some of the episodes of the Remote Pathways Podcast, as well as the weekly series of blog posts including Week 6 of the 52 Weeks of Remote Work.

What is important for you to note, and take action on, as you engage in your work in the remote space?