Stay Focused. Stay Engaged. Stay Energized.
Working remotely is a new reality for people across the nation. It is mostly true that you can work on your own schedule, work from wherever you want (hello, favorite couch!), and maybe the most important thing… work without pants on, if you so desire.
Although these fantastic reasons are more than enough to compensate, working remotely comes with its challenges. Staying focused, feeling like you are part of the team, keeping yourself motivated, and perhaps a few others.
At Spry, we have an entirely remote team ranging from Olympia, WA, Silver Creek, WA, the Puget Sound (on a sailboat, wherever she wants), Vancouver, WA, even Montana! Even through the distance, we are the best of friends and operate in a cohesive and well-oiled manner. How do we do it? It’s a variety of calculated things and a little bit of magic sprinkled on top.
We hold regular meetings.
We meet twice a week at a minimum. The whole team, on a video chat, so that we can see each other’s glorious faces. These meetings are sacred at Spry and I’ll tell you why. It is difficult to be on the same page without a regular assembly of the team. We are moving so fast that even though we utilize good notes in our shared systems, and are good communicators, we still could get easily lost in the hustle and bustle of our growing business. The other key to this handy tip is that people learn differently. I am more of an audible learner, where others on our team can easily read notes and commit them to memory. We like to cover all our bases around here.
Furthermore, once a month (if possible), we assemble physically as a team to go over goals, assign tasks, and learn together. It’s my favorite meeting of all, and not just because boss lady Lacey buys us lunch.
We make it a point to understand each other.
Not just listen but understand. We have all taken personality tests and have had full-length discussions on how we each tick. This was instrumental in our friendship and team building. I see tasks as very black and white. I don’t take constructive criticism to heart (usually), and I just want to get the job done. Perfectly… that’s another quirk I have, I’m often a paralyzed perfectionist.
All this to say, my co-workers used to be so careful about how they would give me suggestions because my stale reaction would usually be a hurried “Ok, fixed it”, without any of the “sugar and spice”. Once they understood the way my brain worked, it was like a burden lifted off their shoulders, and mine. This works all the way around. I am a little more careful with my reactions now too. And it’s pure perfection.
We use cohesive software.
This is probably a no brainer, but we are all connected with the same systems and we can all see each other’s projects. Furthermore, we use the cheeky, and a little morbid, method of “prepare to die”. Taking good notes for every task that we work on or complete so that we can all be on the same page 100 percent of the time.
And, so that if we ever do get to Tahiti (because we work where we want) and the time change makes things a little difficult, any one of my teammates could get into a client’s file and know exactly where we are at with any given project or task. We’ve coined it the PTD method. We straight made it up, but it is very helpful!
We are very intentional about staying focused.
Sometimes, when you have the freedom to work the hours you want, from wherever you want, it is easy to get off track. At Spry, we find one of our biggest challenges is moving from creative to analytical in the same sitting. The best tips we have compiled to avoid hitting a brick wall and becoming completely unmotivated are:
- Block out your time – Make your “to do” list and block out time for each task. Set a timer if you must, but this will keep you on track and help your brain stay focused.
- Create a workspace – I don’t mean in the lounger in front of the TV. A real, bonified workspace that is designated for you to be “at work” while you are there. This is crucial.
- Walk away for a bit – If you get stuck on a task, take a minute to get up and stretch your legs, take a walk, get some food and come back to it refreshed. Works almost every single time.
- Change scenery – Sometimes just moving your workstation to a different room, or outside on the patio can help you refocus and get settled in to hammer out some work.
- Set your schedule ahead of time and be very protective of that time- Although working remotely gives us some freedom to do video chats with friends, attend our children’s school functions etc. It is very important to plan ahead and work those things into your schedule. Once you have set your “work time” for the week, protect it as hard as you can. Knowing that these blocks of time are your time to work will help your brain concentrate and keep in the game knowing that you have something else coming up and you will not have this time back again.
We would love to hear more about how you make working remotely work! What works for your team?