Going from Temporarily Remote Working to Permanently Remote Working

A couple of months before the pandemic our CEO at work resigned, and this week a new one has been appointed. A woman (which I’m stoked about - we’re a financial institution and women in leadership positions are still very uncommon) who was previously the director for customer relations, having responsibilities around our branches and our customer-facing online presence.

So the interesting thing about her appointment is that she used her introduction to inform us that at the end of the Coronavirus crisis we will not be returning to a ‘presenteeism’ culture. In fact we’ve been significantly more productive working remotely, that the office is likely to become a ‘tool’ that we go and use when we need to, but otherwise the default position will be to work from home.

So my current setup and routine are all based around the idea that this would be a temporary deal. Three to six months and then back to how things were before (with some added social distancing). This no longer appears to be the case, so I need to get my act together, and make sure that my working arrangement is sustainable, healthy, and productive in the long term.

I know we have pretty much the whole spectrum of working lifestyles represented here. So I’m looking for any observations, advice, recommendations, etc that you folks have. I’ve been a 9-5 office guy for about 20 years. This is a significant shift.

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I’ve been working from home for about forever (20 years). Once my studies and internships were done, I went freelance writer.

If you don’t have a lot of meetings and time-based constraints (which is my case, I mostly produce fiction book that take at least a year of consistent work), I would heavily recommend time-blocking your days. Working from home with no structure to days is a recipe for inaction and procrastination. While when you know what time you have allotted for things, a) you tend to complete them sooner b) you know what you need to do even if you don’t like it. You don’t necessarily have to go all hyper-scheduling a la @MacSparky (even though I think it’s great), but at least deciding on what you’re going to be doing on mornings and afternoons gives a lot of structure.

(I do, however, hyperschedule – with the caveat that I’m not scheduling less that 1-hour time increments because less makes no sense to me to get into the mode for a task.)

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I do not have the brain-wiring for hyper-scheduling. I already block out time in my calendar to prevent meetings being booked at those times (like during lunchtime) - so a greater use of time-blocking is probably a good call.

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Oh - I could use recommendations on a stand for a MacBook Pro. Though I prefer to have only the machine on my desk, ergonomics and a history of repetitive strain issues suggest that I should have a posture-correcting, wrist-preserving option available.

I’ve worked at home at least 80% of the time for years, and now since the virus 100%. That will continue indefinitely since my team prefers this new working situation. I second the time-blocking suggestion. I also make sure everyone is comfortable with telling everyone their working hours. I don’t take appointments or meetings after a certain time except in very rare circumstances. Just because I work at home does not mean whenever I’m home I’m at work.

I also (as mentioned in some other thread I can’t find) make sure to physically and psychologically separate my working area from my personal area so that I still “go to work” and “go home”, even if only metaphorically. The change from off-work to work modes is important to me and others I know: get dressed and ready for work.

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My company has actually been pretty good in this respect. They’ve given folks more or less carte blanch to be flexible in their working hours, especially if they have children or similar responsibilities, and have implemented some restrictions around meeting times. Some teams are now enforcing conference calls only between 9am and midday, which has been an interesting experiment.

My workspace is my workspace. Actually a friend this morning asked me if I have a separation of work and recreation spaces. I really don’t have that luxury. There’s really not a lot for me to separate.

On the plus side I f*in love my desk and enjoy being sat at it regardless of context.

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That’s an innovation I would welcome. Since meetings beget meetings.

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The separation doesn’t necessarily have to be physical.

  • Get some Hue lights and change the color when you stop work.
  • Use light mode on your devices for work and dark mode for recreation.
  • Play different music (or different background sounds in something like Dark Noise)
  • As @quorm says, have “work clothes”

The Lockdown Productivity episode of Cortex has some good discussion along these lines.

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I have been meaning to add bias lighting to the back of my desk…

I have two office spaces in separate geographical locations (long story). I use my MBP in one and I am prone also to RSI. What I do is

  • Have an external display
  • Have an external Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse
  • Keep the MBP open on a fairly basic stand, which then acts as a secondary monitor.

Works very well and allows me to have the same comfort as on my iMac in the other space.

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This is a great point. It wasn’t until I started blocking periods of an hour or longer (usually 2) that I started making meaningful progress on certain projects. Anything less than this feels like maintenance or skimming

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These are are all really great examples of providing context for your brain to adhere to when space and moving around is limited as it has been lately. I really like these!

@ChrisUpchurch

I do already have a specific HomeKit scene for working at my desk.

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I’m in a similar situation to you. However reading this thread has made me realise that during the past three months I have been avoiding what was my ‘personal office’ because I now associate it with my ‘work work’ having been in there 9-5, Monday to Friday since lockdown.

I now find myself doing my ‘personal work’ all around the house, in the bedroom, lounge, garden, anywhere but my office. Even at weekends, I am subconsciously avoiding it.

Probably a lot to do with how I feel about my ‘work work’. :grimacing:

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Let me be the contrarian (maybe). I’ve been working from home for about 20 years (Geesh, I’m old!). I’ve gone through various phases when I needed to be more or less disciplined.

Are you getting your work done now? If so, keep doing what you’re doing. If you need to change it, change it. But you may not need the structure suggested in this thread.

If you get your work done at the kitchen table one week, with remnants of your breakfast sitting nearby, but it starts to wear on you, go back to your office. Do you have a nice porch or backyard? Take the laptop or tablet out there when it’s convenient.

There’s nothing wrong with adhering to some of the suggested rules if they’re necessary for you to be productive, but don’t assume you’re going to need them. You may be just fine without them, and those rules may even deprive you of one of the great joys of working from home. (If I decide to put on an episode of Columbo and work in the family room downstairs, I can do it!)

In summary, don’t necessarily attribute your procrastination or other unproductive behavior to working from home. Unless you never, ever procrastinated, chatted with co-workers, or wandered aimlessly around the office when you had a deadline while in the workplace.

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While I mostly agree with @davidrepmo, one thing I’d add is don’t let “Are you getting your work done now?” be the only question you ask to assess what you’re doing now. Perhaps even more important is, “Are you getting things other than your work done?”

One of the big pitfalls of working from home is work sprawling octopus-like to take over more and more of your time and space. The reason to enforce boundaries isn’t just to make sure work gets done, it’s also to make sure that work doesn’t have a negative effect on your relationships, physical and mental health, general enjoyment of life, etc.

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:+1::+1:
My work is so amorphous and open ended that it could consume most of the day, if I let it intrude that way. I couldn’t take a laissez faire approach. I need boundaries.

(BTW, @Wolfie doesn’t strike me as someone who would ever procrastinate :slight_smile: )

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Excellent points by @quorm and @ChrisUpchurch. Boundaries, for me, are more for my non-work life than for my work life.

(But I’ll bet even @Wolfie procrastinates!)

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I’ve used the mStand for several years. A simple, solid design.

https://www.raindesigninc.com/mstand.html

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I am an excellent procrastinator!

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