We spend a lot of time talking about why the mobile workplace is important, how to create a mobile workplace, what technology to use, and how to overcome manager resistance. All of these topics are important, but I thought it might be worthwhile to consider how one person makes it work on a regular basis. To be successful requires conscious commitment. When we work in an office, it is easy to sleepwalk through the day. Drive to the metro, get to the office, grab a cup of coffee at the local café, wait for the elevator, sit down at your laptop, plunge into your email and start responding to whatever comes at you. Hey it’s lunchtime!
One of the benefits of moving to a part or full time work at home program is that it gives us a chance to re-think our approach to work and to consider what makes us successful, both professionally and personally. Working at home requires a conscious commitment to action, engagement, and productivity. Moving to a new model of work also gives us a chance to think “new” – to think beyond “where” we work and to consider “what we do” and “how” we work. Here are a few rules that I have found helpful.
- Plan – Create a plan for the day, with a top three or five items that you want to accomplish. Write up the list. Post it on the wall. Check off the items as you go along. At the end of the day, you will know what you have accomplished, feel a sense of completion, and improve your ability to prioritize how you use your time. And – it’s a small thing – but the visual and tactile sense of checking off your accomplishments can really make a difference.
- Focus – Figure out what you need to get yourself focused on work. Do you need absolute quiet? Some background music? A comfortable chair? Headphones? Don’t use the home environment as an excuse to create an environment that is more conducive to relaxing than working.
- Connect – As part of your plan, set up connection activities to keep engaged with managers and colleagues. Set up regular calls, instant message check-ins, in-person meetings. Also set up quiet times when you are not available to connect. The quality and value of your interaction with others will increase when you control it.
- Move – Set up a specific time to get away from your computer and move. Walk the dog, practice your yoga positions, walk to the store, or do whatever works best. Schedule the time. It can be a fifteen minute break mid-day or an afternoon walk. Make movement part of your plan.
- Control – Get back control over your workday. This is up to you. Recognize that you cannot get work-life balance by moving a reactive, unproductive work style to another location. Work with your managers and colleagues to create a plan that works for them as well as you – and stick to it.
Do you have a strategy for success? Please share.