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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