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Lessons from 30 Years of Working Remotely

Laptop on a desk, surrounded by houseplantsPost-pan­dem­ic, many peo­ple work from home, and I’m hap­py to be one of them. When I start­ed work­ing from home back in 1990, though, it was extreme­ly unusual.

After 30 years of work­ing remote­ly, I’ve learned that sev­er­al key fac­tors will add to your suc­cess. First, have a sep­a­rate space with a door that clos­es. A sep­a­rate office will lead to bet­ter focus dur­ing work­ing hours. It will also allow you to walk away from work and close the door after work. That room needs good sound­proof­ing and excel­lent lighting.

Next, pay atten­tion to ergonom­ics. You need a good, sup­port­ive chair. Some peo­ple find a footrest help­ful. Your key­board should be at the right height for you, not at the height of most tables or desks. The mon­i­tor (or mon­i­tors!) should be placed so that you aren’t look­ing up or down or turn­ing your head to see the screen.

Third, it isn’t as easy to get sup­port from IT peo­ple when you’re at home, so you need to be more mind­ful of what you’re doing. I back up to a cloud ser­vice as well as have an exter­nal hard dri­ve that I use with Time Machine.

You can’t work well any­where if you aren’t healthy. It’s too easy to get hyper-focused on work when you work from home and blur the bound­aries between work and your per­son­al life. Turn the com­put­er off at the end of the work­day and walk away. Make time for move­ment and fresh air regularly. 

Final­ly, be mind­ful of stay­ing in touch with your co-work­ers. Make a lit­tle time for chat­ting. Find out how they spend their time away from work. Pay atten­tion to their moods and ask how they’re doing, just as you would if you were in an office with them. If you’re in a lead­er­ship posi­tion, con­sid­er mak­ing time for team-build­ing exer­cis­es or social­iz­ing to open meetings.

Pho­to by vadim kaipov on Unsplash