The Challenge of Working Remotely

Welcome to the world of working remotely. How’s it working out for you?

I’ve been working remotely for quite a while now and it’s been interesting to watch people trying to do it. It is a bigger challenge than you think. It takes more discipline than first expected.

The bottom line is you have to have the mindset of:  “I’m going to work every morning.”

The three things that should be your mantra:

  1. Get up!
  2. Dress up!
  3. Show up!

By now, you’ve probably seen plenty of social media posts of people dressed from the waist up, keeping their shorts or pajama bottoms on.

Funny.

However, here’s the problem with that: your self-image and your attitude are influenced by how you are dressed. You should really be dressed for the occasion. Maybe one level above what your audience expects, whether they are in person or online.

Personally, if I know I don’t have any meetings scheduled, it’s easy for me to dress casually or truthfully super casual for the day. Meaning, weekend clothes and that might even mean yard working or outdoor hobby clothes. But, if I know I’ve got meetings or even a serious working agenda for the day, I’m dressing up for it. It’s what I call “doing the Full Monty” in the morning. Meaning shower, shave, and appropriately dressed, ready for meeting anyone. No shorts, flip flops or sloppy clothes. I’ll admit that this is pretty easy for me because I’ve been doing it for so long. Let me encourage you to get into this habit. Keeping your professional hat on so to speak is going to help keep up your attitude and focus.

Next thing is to have a dedicated work space. Make it look like a dedicated working space, even if it’s just a corner in your dining room. Figure this out. As it is right now, we’ll all be in our home working space for another four to eight weeks. Don’t be sloppy. There are some benefits of doing this:

  • It is a space that when you walk into it, you’ll be mentally preparing yourself for work.
  • When you walk out of it, you’ll be able to leave that work behind.
  • If it’s a space you can close the door on, you can really close the door on it – both when you’re inside it and when you leave it.

Get in the habit of this. Oh, and don’t bring your cereal bowl to work with you in the morning. Go eat, brush your teeth, check your hair one more time, and come to work.

Finally, if you’re anticipating doing more online, face-to-face meetings on Zoom, FaceTime, or other similar platforms, then, for goodness sake, be conscious of your surroundings, especially your background. There have already been so many social media posts of some pretty funny incidents of people doing their online meetings. There has even been one where a lady took her phone into the bathroom and, well,  you get the point. They’re all funny or a bit tragic in this lady’s case. The point is you don’t want to be “YouTube Famous.” Be conscious of your surroundings when you’re doing these calls and meetings.

We’re all going to be working like this for the next while. Let’s make the best of it and do our best at it.

Let me know how you’re doing.

Dave

Staying Focused in Turbulent Times

I woke up this morning thinking of what I can do to deal with the current market and societal changes that are seriously impacting my business. Since I’m an early morning person (meaning I am most creative and engaged in the morning), I am flooded with “great” ideas. Some of these I’ve thought of before and some are brand new. And, for sure, they are all great ideas! So many to choose from – and all of them are distractions from what should be my main focus: to stay faithful to my main business plan.

This is a case of: “For every mile of road, there’s two miles of ditch.”

There are so many times and reasons when we as business leaders get distracted with great new ideas. But we have to be careful that those new ideas don’t pull us into the ditch. Someone once likened this to a NASCAR race. This idea of staying focused on our main thing. In a NASCAR race the cars are racing around the track at speeds exceeding 200 mph. This requires the drivers to stay super focused on the track and the cars around them. If they ever so briefly glance away toward the wall, that nano second of distraction at 200 mph can drive them right into the wall.

For almost 3 years now, we’ve been racing around the track of this economy at over 200 mph. Now we have this yellow maybe even red flag waving at us called the Coronavirus. It seems that we’re going from 200mph down to almost zero. But are we really? Is this the time to take our eyes off the track ahead and start worrying about the wall? No! As tempting as it is, we can’t stop to worry about where the wall is, or where the other cars are around us. We can’t take the luxury of this worry. To survive and position ourselves to thrive in this and the next phase, we must stay in the race and run it with renewed focus. How do we do it? Here’s some ideas. These are designed to get our eyes back on the track and driving our own race car. Nothing new or super creative here. Just good old fashioned staying focused on The Main Thing:

  • Assemble your key leadership for a focused analysis of what is happening in your market:
    • What are your customers and vendors experiencing?
    • How can you and your team proactively impact them?
    • What are you currently reacting to that you can shift to a more proactive approach?
    • Review how you service your customers in this new situation: what can you do to help them?
  • Seek counsel from your key corporate advisors:
    • CPA
    • Banker
    • Insurance agent
    • Financial advisor
    • Attorney
    • Corporate consultant.
  • If you are project based, meet with each of your clients and explore with them everything about the project with a fresh eye.
    • What, if anything, needs to change?
    • What do you anticipate are going to be the challenges to complete?
  • If you are product based, meet with your vendors and explore with them what they see as impacting the supply chain. From those discussions:
    • What do you need to meet over with your primary customers?
  • In all cases, meet with your employees and let them know what the plan is! Their loyalty and commitment to you–and you to them– during this time is supremely important and critical.  Keep them informed.

This is just a start. I’m sure you are already thinking along these lines and maybe beyond. My challenge to you remains: don’t get so creative that you lose your focus on the track ahead. Now is not the time to get distracted with a shiny thing.

Stay focused! You can do this!