I've recently been reading Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (Vermilion, £10.99),and learned some valuable lessons about working from home. A lot of people scorn and question the practicality of working from home, but in my eyes there's a lot to be learnt, and understood. So perhaps full time office workers, or even those who work from home, can employ some of the following suggestions, and consider a shake up of your work-ethic, which will make for a happier work/life.
CANCEL SOME OF YOUR MEETINGS
Remote working means fewer face-to-face meetings and according to Fried and Heinemeier Hansson, there are huge benefits to this; “by rationing in-person meetings, their stature is elevated to that of a rare treat. They become something to be savoured, something special. Dine out every once in a while on those feasts and sustain yourself in the interim on the conversation “snacks” that technology makes possible. That will give you all the magic you can handle.”
DISTRACTION IS A WARNING SIGN
Whether it’s Murder, She Wrote grabbing your attention, or your colleague’s new shoes, distraction can serve a purpose; “like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, they warn us – when we feel ourselves regularly succumbing to them – that our work is not well defined, or our tasks are menial, or the whole project we’re engaged in is fundamentally pointless.” Keep wandering off to the filing cabinet/water cooler/kettle? “Is it perhaps time to raise your voice and state the obvious? If you're feeling like this, chances are others are too.”
DO YOU REALLY NEED AN ANSWER NOW?
“When everyone is sitting in the same office, it’s easy to fall into the habit of bothering anyone for anything at any time, with no regard for personal productivity.” Fried and Heinemeier Hansson recommend office workers should follow the same rules as home workers: “questions you can wait hours to learn the answers to are fine to put in an email. Questions that require answers in the next few minutes can go in an instant message. For crises that truly merit sky-is-falling designation, you can use that old-fashioned invention called the telephone.”
SHARE YOUR SUCCESS WITH COLLEAGUES
At Fried and Heinemeier Hansson’s web company, 37Signals, they have a weekly discussion thread called “What have you been working on?” It’s a way of keeping teams – remote and office-based – in the company loop. “Everyone chimes in with a few lines about what they’ve done over the past week and what’s intended for the next week. It simply aims to make everyone feel like they’re in the same galley and not in their own little rowboat.” They recommend these meetings take place with the team but without the boss because “it’s a lot harder to bullsh*t your peers than your boss”.
For many, working remotely doesn't fit with their work-life, and they 'need' to be in the office, but that doesn't mean draconian managing, a rigid hierarchy, or a scary rulebook. Of course it can be difficult to ignore the rules and follow a different path if you're a key member of staff whose role affects more than a handful of people, but mull over the above ideas, and perhaps it'll make work less like work and more of a place where you get to enjoy what you do. At the very least, your perspective may just change about that friend who send emails from the comfort of their couch.