Remote Control – A Few Do’s & Don’ts of Working Remotely

COVID-19 has drastically changed the typical workday for most electrical distributors. For a lot of salespeople, support staff, and others, working from home has been new and uncharted territory. The safeguards and common-sense health measures put in place by distributors to minimize everyone’s exposure to each other make sense. If someone doesn’t have to be in the building, that’s one less person to potentially spread the virus to the warehouse crew or folks that staff the sales counter. Early on in the pandemic, the electrical industry was deemed “an essential business”. To operate in this environment, many distributors have deemed roles such as warehouse operations and counter sales teams as essential TO the business. In the interest of keeping these people safe, many others are working remotely.

The internet is full of good and bad advice on how to be productive in a remote work setting. For a lot of people in the electrical industry, the concept of the “home office” is entirely new. The following is a list of do’s and don’ts that are intended to help us adapt to our work-from-home environment during these times.

DO establish a pre-work routine. For a lot of us, getting up and commuting to the office is a chance to wake up and prepare for the day. Set aside some time in the morning to give you brain a chance to wake up and get into “work mode”. Since you’re not commuting, dedicate this time for something positive like exercise, reading, or learning a new skill. This is your chance to get back some of the time spent commuting each day and replace it with something that you enjoy.

DON’T roll out of bed and immediately begin work. Being tired and groggy first thing in the morning does not lend itself to productivity. A sleepy brain is prone to mistakes.

DO structure your workday to make the most of your at-home environment. Setting regular work hours is easy for some people but difficult for others. For interacting with customers, you’re likely locked into their business schedule to respond to their calls and emails. For more administrative duties, feel free to use the flexibility that working from home provides. Many of us are faced with the fact that our spouses and/or kids are also working from home or attending school via remote learning. Factor in the variables of having to support each other in this environment and work around each other’s schedules. Sometimes, putting together a bid for your customer in the evening after the kids have gone to bed is the best option for intense focus and productivity.

DON’T force yourself to work 8–5 every day. Why lock yourself into a rigid schedule if you don’t have to? Often, the best time to work is when you’re at your best. Maintaining some flexibility in your schedule allows you to more effectively balance the work that you need to accomplish and the needs of your family. Things are different for everybody right now and we all must adapt.

DO (if possible) establish a dedicated workspace. Just because you’re not working at the office doesn’t mean you can’t, well, have an office. If possible, set up a specific room or place in your home to work. A distraction-free location with good lighting, upright seating, and a table or desk.

DON’T use your bed or your couch as your “office”. Lying around the house with your laptop and paperwork scattered everywhere makes it pretty tough to focus. Your couch is the spot for leisure time. Your bed is meant for rest. Neither of these environments contribute to work productivity.

DO use technology to stay connected. Working from home might help you focus on your work in the short term, but it can also make you feel cut off from the larger operation happening in the office. Instant messaging and videoconferencing tools can make it easy to check in with coworkers and remind you how your work is contributing to the success of your electrical distributor. Tools like Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams and other messaging and meeting aps can enhance communication, build involvement, and decrease the feeling of seclusion.

DON’T go into “solitary confinement”. When were at work, we check in with each other over coffee or when milling about the office. You might wander out into the warehouse to check on a shipment or visit with a coworker in the cubicle next to yours. At home, we tend to focus on what needs to be done and ignore the natural camaraderie that we share at work. Don’t isolate yourself!

It’s important to note that these are mostly practices gathered from the advice of people in our same position. Many of these rules (and others that are out there) are quite subjective. If one seems like it just doesn’t fit the way you work, ignore it and find something that does. Lots of us are new at this work form from home stuff and ALL of us are different! Pick and choose the methodologies that work best for you and your own situation.

Do you have a technique or something that you’ve learned while working remotely?  Please share it in the comments below.