Remote Work and Education – It’s Time to Shine

Remote Work and Education – It’s Time to Shine

I’ve always been a pretty big fan of flexible work options and remote work. It’s been nice to have the ability to do it when I’ve been sick, traveling, or taking care of other business. While not possible for all job roles, remote work can have a lot of benefits.

I feel the same way about remote and online education options. For the last year and a half I’ve been working on an MBA degree through the University of Washington’s Hybrid MBA program. 95% of the work is administered and completed online, and I would still argue is world class. I feel very connected to my cohort, and I have been much more efficient in my learning than I ever was during my undergraduate degree. 

With the Coronavirus and its many effects continuing to spread, I’d like to share some of my thoughts on some benefits and tips for remote work and education.

Benefits of Going Remote

No Travel Time

For my MBA degree, it’s pretty awesome to be able to eat dinner with my family and five minutes later be on my computer participating my Macroeconomics class (side note – that class just finished up and was rather timely given all of the global economic changes going on). I don’t have to travel downtown anywhere to go to campus. I jump right in and get going with minimal impact to my family and personal life.

I appreciate the same benefits for remote work. Because I can get right to work (or immediately stop) at home, I get more sleep, have more time with my family, and decrease the wear/tear on my vehicles because I’m driving less. 

Less Natural Distractions

Being away from the office antics that distract you can be nice for productivity. Of course, I have to deal with my own home distractions such as my funny children, home projects I feel the need to work on, and a pantry of food that is always calling my name. Yet, I think it is usually true that remote workers have more uninterrupted time and can therefore get a lot more done on focused work tasks. Enjoy it, and crush it.

Pump Up the Tunes

I like listening to music while I work. Usually it’s instrumental of some sort so the words don’t distract my thinking, but that’s not always cool in the workplace. Maybe you just put on your noise cancelling headphones at work anyway, but working from home is a nice time to blast your favorite tunes while you get a bunch of work done. And if you’re really cool, dance a bit more, because no one is watching.

Tips for Going Remote

Get Fluent with Online Tools

There are more remote working tools out there than I can even count. Web conferencing, messaging, document sharing, and project management tools become even more important when you aren’t face to face with people. If you avoided getting familiar with your company’s tools of choice, now is the time to change that. And you’ll be the hero if you have the ability to help others through their own struggles and be more productive for the whole team.

Communicate More Than You Think You Need To

One of the great benefits of being co located is those natural, unplanned opportunities to connect and communicate with others. It’s easy for remote workers, especially those used to working in an office with others, to feel isolated and disconnected. Thus, communication is even more important. Keep teammates up to date on progress, initiatives, and roadblocks. You should probably be sharing more than you think is necessary to make up for the loss of natural communication.

Set Appropriate Boundaries

It’s easy to go to extremes when working remotely. Some people either work too much or too little because they can’t separate work-time from home-time. Therefore, setting expectations for yourself and those you work with can help keep things running. When will you be online/offline? How do you handle at-home issues that you’re suddenly around for? This will look different for everyone, but setting this all up can be really helpful.

We are part of a great experiment for remote working and education that could change things permanently. It’s time to see if we can handle it. If this is something you want to be more available to you, it’s important to be as productive as possible given the circumstances.

Whether you are old or new to working remotely, I’d love to know your thoughts on the subject. How do you make the most of it? What is hard/difficult? How do you help others?

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