Congratulations! You’re part of a culture of employees that are storming the battleground of the support world from the comfort of, well, wherever they want, really. Their desks at home, their couch, the local Starbucks, the library, or even the park.
We could say that it’s complicated, has its own difficulties, and can be as daunting as an office job, but, who are we kidding? You can “go to work” without pants on, and sandwich crumbs on your face, if you want.
Okay, so, while that’s true, it does have its intricacies, and being able to work without showering for three days doesn’t automagically make your job a walk in the park. You need to develop your own positive workflow, avoid distractions, and find the discipline to manage yourself in whatever environment you choose to work in.
Lets start by taking a look at some of the more common issues faced by remote employees.
- Being more open to distractions.
- Easier loss of focus.
- Higher noise level.
- Did I mention distractions?
Depending on where you choose to work, many of these may not be an issue. The chances are fairly high, however, that you’re choosing to work from home, where all of these, and possibly more, are concerns. I’ve come up with a list of tips and tricks I use to try to minimize these issues, or eliminate them completely. You may already be implementing some of these tactics, and if so, great job. Hopefully though, some of these may help you to be a bit more productive, or at least keep you from getting leftover pizza sauce on your keyboard.
Have a set of tools that you use to work, that you have whenever you’re about to go on shift. A pair of great quality, over-the-ear, noise canceling headphones should top this list. Seriously. If you’re ever in a situation, or place, where noise is an issue, put on your headphones, and lock into focus. I tend to wear them by default, and at this point, they help me to stay focused on what I’m doing, regardless of surrounding noise.
A notepad and a few pens is another great addition to your “toolkit”. Sure, we’re modern, and “there’s an app for that”, but having something written down physically, that’s tangible, means you can take it with you when you’re away from your machine. Additionally, one less window open on your screen means less clutter in your workspace.
Keep a stash of snacks handy.
I struggled with the phrase “healthy snacks”, but who am I to tell you what to eat? Although I will say that a handful of almonds over a half-brick of chocolate will keep you from feeling sluggish or sleepy 30 minutes later. A desk drawer with a stash of these types of easily-eaten snacks will keep you from needing to break your stride for a trip to the kitchen. The line on having a coffeepot on your desk is still blurry though.
Wherever you choose to work, you have to be prepared to finish out your workday, even if things start turning upside-down. Your internet goes out, your keyboard stops working, your dog catches on fire. Whatever the case, have your MacBook ready, so you can take a ten minute break, and get to your nearest Wi-Fi enabled coffee shop of choice.
Get prepped before your shift starts.
Have a cup of coffee (or whatever your alternate, incorrect choice of beverage is) ready, have your work stuff set up, close out any unnecessary windows on your machine, and be ready to go. I also recommend setting yourself up with a rdio or Spotify subscription. Create a few long playlists, so you can start one, and not have to fiddle with finding the new Daft Punk jam in your iTunes during your shift. If you’re on rdio, I even have one ready to go for you. We all love the 80s, right? This one clocks in at just under 15 hours, so, if that can’t get you through a shift, you might be doing it wrong. http://rd.io/x/QAF1L2ykyw/
This one’s important. You’re on the clock, but you don’t work for the KGB. If you need a break, stretch your legs. Limit your excuses for getting up and messing about, but if you legitimately need to step away, or clear your head, do it. Sometimes there’s a customer that’s angry, or you hit a frustrating roadblock. Take a minute, take a few deep breaths. You’ll find your job is much easier when you can always take the right approach, and always be in the right mindset.
What others would you add?
I’m sure that many, if not all of you, have your own tips and tricks as well. Feel free to share them in the comments, I’m sure we’d all appreciate some fresh perspectives. It’s my first post here at Support Ops so don’t leave me hanging!