STREETCAR8 was founded deliberately as a remote company in 2017 by two owners. But at any given time in the last decade, one or both of us have worked to serve clients at a distance. We love it! We intentionally set out to build our company in this way because we appreciate the flexibility, convenience and reach that it affords us.
All of that said, the last few weeks have tested the arrangement. When we started the business, there was a very nice mix of remote work, in-person meetings and social gatherings with friends/family. Now with many socialization restrictions in place, work happens online, networking events happen online and we also play online often utilizing video conferencing technology. It can be exhausting!
But what exactly is the problem? Why are video conferences so hard on us? This BBC article offers a clue. Experts say that we rely on nonverbal cues during face-to-face conversations. Since they are harder to identify during video conferences, we are forced to focus on words and that can be tiring.
Here are a few tips to help you thrive while working remotely:
Pick up the phone
All meetings do not have to be video meetings. Many are using video conferencing tools like Zoom for the first time these days. And while being able to connect at-a-distance is wonderful especially when in-person interactions are limited, it’s easy to go overboard. As mentioned, being engaged in a meeting and having the video on can be draining. But group meetings can often happen without videos. And for one-on-one conversations that don’t require screen-sharing, picking up the phone often works just as well.
Kick and stretch
Hunter-gatherers were nomadic people. They knew how to get their steps in! But very few of us survive by hunting, fishing and foraging these days. Physical activity has declined and working from home, particularly at a desk job, could have a detrimental effect. To keep activity on the forefront while at home, take breaks during the day to stretch, walk or lift weights. Chair stretches can take place before, after or even during meetings depending on the event (camera off!). There are many habit tracking apps on the market that help individuals make and monitor habits.
Close the office door
Setting boundaries for yourself and others is important while working at home. Having a separate space, if possible, helps with focus by signaling that the area is meant for work. If the workspace has a door, that’s even better. For some of us, work can go on and on. This is especially true if you’re a small business owner who wears many different hats. Having a physical door to close at the end of the day is a good way to transition out of work and into your personal life.
Bring back the walking meeting
Take a break from work and get yourself away from the computer by doing a magazine crossword puzzle or reading a physical book. While these activities still tax the eyes, if kept varied, they can help increase your mood. Other activities that remove us from technology and shake up daily routines include drawing, playing a musical instrument, cooking/baking, doing a puzzle, hiking/biking and playing board games, just to name a few.
We’ve heard it before…set boundaries, take breaks and exercise. Although it makes sense, making healthy habits a priority is difficult. Incorporating just a few of these tips into your remote workday can make a difference by keeping you productive and energetic!