I have worked remotely for more than ten years. Previously, people were always surprised and excited to hear this. They ask if I work from bed, and if I nap on the job, but the most common question is: “So you don’t even have to wear pants, right?” And now I have a platform to finally set the record straight: Nope, I don’t have to wear pants. Just to be clear, I DO, but it’s not technically a job requirement while I’m at home… 😂
But this year I am no longer one of the lucky few, as almost everyone in the world has joined the telecommuting club. And just like me, they quickly discovered that it is less Risky Business and more standing crouched over your keyboard because your cat stole your office chair.
Working from home is a double-edged sword. While it comes with amazing perks and benefits, it can also be isolating and discouraging. Now that you’re working remotely you no longer feel that human connection with your coworkers. While before when you were in the office, you could get face-time with the boss, build relationships with coworkers, and be that salty bright-shining lover of Jesus you are. But now, on top of quarantine, and all else going on in the world, it feels a bit like a prison sentence. (Okay that was a huge exaggeration, but you get my point). How in the world can we thrive and grow in a situation like this that is so not ideal? By taking care of yourself, connecting with your co-workers, and giving 100% to your work. Here is what I have learned about how to have a thriving remote work life.
Take Care of Yourself
Forget your job responsibilities for a second. Before we go any further, please take care of yourself Physically, Mentally, and Spritually. I know you’re probably sick of hearing it but I’m going to be your mother for a second and say it again: Drink more water. Exercise. Get more sleep. Stay connected to your people. If you’re struggling personally, find a solid counselor who can walk through this time with you with the right perspective. Finally, Pray. Be in the Word of God every single day. Cast all your cares on our Father who loves your soul too much to let you remain undisciplined. Consider this your official permission to be patient and forgiving toward yourself.
Invest in Relationships
It’s difficult to feel connected to your job if you aren’t connected to your co-workers. I have always advocated for this; happiness in a job is really about the people. If you aren’t able to relate in a healthy way to the people around you, the work day will be long and difficult. What helps me is that I like to think of my job as a mission field. It helps infuse meaningful purpose into my otherwise boring daily tasks and gives me an opportunity to work my faith muscles and practice Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” That’s why I make an effort to invest in relationships with coworkers. Choose one person and show them in your own way that they valued and appreciated. Keep it simple and professional. You don’t have to be best friends, but to take interest in a person’s life, feelings, burdens goes a long way.
Take Care of Business
To put it simply, do your very best work, every day. Make a commitment to integrity. Proverbs 10:9 says: Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. This means doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Here are some ideas to let people know that you not only care about them, you are committed to being a team player.
Metrics. Fulfilling the job description is the most basic thing you can nail. If you are struggling in some area to deliver results, work with your manager to come up with a plan. He/She will see that you are trying and you will feel good knowing there’s nothing to hide.
Contribute in Meetings. One of the most awkward things to sit through is a meeting when no one is responding to a question. Most of the time I try to prepare a little something to say, even if it’s not mindblowing. I know that I am always put at ease when someone gets up the courage to unmute and weigh in. More than this, managers notice the people who are engaged and interested in collaborating. It’s the next best thing next to real-life face time with the boss.
Bring the Solution. Think of something that is missing from your daily processes that would help improve on your goals. Perhaps a process that could be done more efficiently, and have fun coming up with ideas on how it could be implemented, and then share them with your team. A positive attitude and focus on solutions while pointing out flaws is much better for everyone and they will all benefit from the outcome.
If there was one time I wish I could look into the future, it’s now. As I know you probably are as well, I am just aching to see how this all shakes out. In the meantime, working from home is here to stay. My prayer is that you wouldn’t just be barely surviving from week to week, but that this adversity would test and strengthen all of our resolve to continue running the race of faith.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.2 Corinthians 4:7