Remote working potentials, unfulfilled (so far)
Part 2. A self-reflection on remote working, one year on
Forced by the pandemic, same as those people fortunate enough to be able to do it, I am working remotely for over a year. I am thankful and blessed, but I ask myself — am I genuinely working remotely? Or, have I brought home my office practices? Have I optimised for remote working, and am I making the most of remote working?
Over these 12 months and a bit, I gained some things, and I lost others. Living close with family is a massive plus. The lack of commute — sublime. But I lost some of my routines. The morning “me time”, the time I spent before going to the office. This time was my 1 hour of investment time to do something for myself or the company — a non-project related work, like creating training or knowledge materials or writing. While I train daily, I still train fewer hours and less often. While I read almost daily, I feel that I read less (while I measure most aspects of my life, I don’t have data on this aspect). Unexplainably, I read now mainly books, fewer articles. I spend less time on Twitter (that can be a positive, though :) ).
Like most people, I am working more hours than before. I believe in the value of collecting metrics that serve a purpose. Because of this, I track my time, and I have ample data to analyse. In the last year, while I worked on average over 11 hours/day, my stats are not that positive, not worth bragging about them. In Q1 of 2021, I spent 48% on calls and 12% on writing emails or planning activities. I spent only 28% of the time thinking or doing creative work, while 11% were break times. I spent the last 1% training others. The stats are similar for the entire year, slightly more favourable for the time spent on calls, at 41% average for the year. Over this period, I spent only 1% on my professional hobby (programming) and about 1% on the other pleasure, writing.
Working in consulting means that I change the nature of engagements throughout the year, which influences my time. Despite this, I still notice that I spent less and less time on myself as time progressed.
I wonder, what is missing? What can I do more? I work for a very supportive organisation that takes wellbeing extremely seriously. And the backdrop of the worldwide pandemic must play a negative role. Still, I cannot hide behind this — I am the limiting factor.
And it is not the lack of learning or searching for inspiration — I did read books on remote working (“Remote: Office Not Required” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, and “The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work” by Scott Berkun, Chris Kayser, et al. are excellent sources of inspirations), as well as blog posts, and tweet snippets.
If I were to make remote working a successful long-term working way, I need to do more. I need to grow into this space. I need to start thinking differently. To truly embrace that remote working is a different style. To take more advantages of its asynchronicity, where not all team members work at the same time. I need to be more ruthless with my time, especially call times. Face to face communication is the most effective way of communication. Still, I will think harder if there is a need for a call — if I can replace a 30 min call with a 5 min email, I shall do that. I need to block “don’t disturb” times. I need to experience different ways of working, try working from other locations. Develop my office space further. While I did create the basic ergonomics, and I have a good space, it could be better. I need to set some better measurable goals, like achieve a target % of my monthly time spent on new activities.
But more importantly, I need to learn to be content and trust that I do enough (which I know I do — but I need to start believing that). I need to use this belief as fuel. And start building my life in unison with my work, where the professional and personal entities feed off each other. One has to be a source of energy for the other.
We all need to do it because the nature of work is evolving, and we need to evolve with it. Once we beat this virus, we have bigger goals to achieve, like living sustainably, saving our planet. And surely, remote working has a role to play.
To a brighter, remote working enabled future …
We are all different, and what my work for me might not work for you, and vice versa. Nevertheless, I’d love to hear how is your experience; what do you do to enhance your life in a remote working setting?
Picture by Bilel Naili, pexels.com