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An Extrovert’s Guide to Remote Work

photo of man on laptop

Because of COVID-19 many of us are now in a position where we’re working full-time remote for the first time ever. As someone who thrives on human interaction in an office setting, working at home alone has been challenging to say the least.

I sat down to have a coffee with Chethan Reddy to get some tips on how to stay productive. Chethan is one of our Senior Engineers at Hired who shared some actionable insights on what it’s like to be a full-time remote employee for 2+ years at Hired. Before being at Hired Chethan has worked remote for about 20% of the time.

The first few weeks of working from home were definitely overwhelming so here are some tips and tricks I’ve implemented to help:

Setting the right environment:

For many people, setting up a work environment is as simple as organizing your desk the way you like at your office. Now we’re all at home – we may not all be afford the same comfort and luxury of an office. It can be easy for us to be comfy and work from our couches or bed – but it’s not really conducive to getting work done.

  • Dressing to go to work: Is it comfortable to be in your PJs? Yes! Does it help make you productive? Not really! Being able to dress for the day helps with putting yourself in the mindset that you are going to be productive.
  • Create a work space: Whether it be the dining room or a table, having a space to designate as a “work station” is key. What do you have in an office? How can you replicate it? Is this space used for something else? For me, it’s about having a monitor and open space – less so about having a desk and a chair.
  • Separating Work from Home: Yes, you read that correctly, creating a separation between ‘work’ and ‘home’ is hard when your home is now your office. Be sure to have a clear schedule of when you are going to be “on” so you don’t feel like you’re working all the time. In the comfort of your own home you’ll have the the temptation to sit on the couch, flip on the TV, or stay in bed is too much. For me, the work station is in the corner of my dining room where I’m not facing any distractions and I’m fully “on” between 8:30AM – 5PM. This can be tricky with kids to do, so be sure to have a schedule with breaks in mind.
  • Avoid Temptation: For most people their home is their space of zen where they can focus on themselves and the things they like to do. Setting up a space separate from where you have leisure time can be helpful. Lots of folks prefer to work from their bed, but Clete Kushida, MD, PhD, medical director of the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine has been quoted saying, “You really want to think of your bedroom as a place to sleep,” not as a place for other activities.

Timing and creating a schedule:

Chethan works in the east coast while a majority of his colleagues are in the west coast. For him, creating a set schedules is key. In the office we have our natural breaks where we have some office chit-chat, go grab a snack, take a walk, go grab lunch, etc…

Without this schedule, you’ll have to create your own.

  • Exercising: Chethan usually incorporates a light workout in the morning and some walks around the neighborhood throughout the day. You don’t have to do a full on workout, but exercise is proven to improve mood so you can feel ready to tackle your day. Personally, I do body weight exercise in the morning and a run in the afternoons to keep my body and mind fresh. Be sure to maintain safe social distancing if you do go out for a run. In SF people have been getting sick and getting fined and we sure don’t want that!
  • When to start and stop work: Chethan mentioned a few times how easy it can be to lose track of time and continue to work. There are times where he catches himself late at night at 1AM trying to solve an engineering problem which has bothered him. Instead of working through the day sporadically, having a set start and stop time for work has helped with work/life balance while remaining in the house.
  • Create a Goal for the day: Make your own business goal for the day after you exercise and start working. If you know what time you want to ‘get off’ work and have a clear goal of what needs to be accomplished in the day – you can motivate yourself to finish on time.
  • Timing Breaks: Working with distractions can be tough whether it be kids, checking the news, or looking at social media. If it’s an absolute must, set up calendar blocks to hold yourself accountable. A good way to time breaks while achieving goals is by rewarding yourself with a 5 minute break after 25 minutes of intense focus.

Staying Connected

What do you usually do with coworkers? Virtual Zoom Meetings, Google Hangouts, Slack, and Facetime are all great ways to feel connected with others if you live with few people. Being able to understand what colleagues are going through have been helpful in staying productive and healthy.

  • Scheduling Working Sessions: Not sure how to stay productive or having a hard time staying self motivated? Our team has a daily standup every morning where we talk about our goals we look to accomplish and what obstacles we’ve run into. Chances are if you’re experiencing difficulty, someone else is too. Being able to connect with others helps build up accountability.

While this is not the be all end of all work from home tips, this is what has helped me sit down and focus while working remotely. I’m a person who has never enjoyed working from home because of the amount of distractions, so curious on how you’re staying productive as well!

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