The Executive’s Guide to Remote Work
By David Urman, Fractional Chief Revenue Officer & Fractional Chief Legal Officer
These are serious times, and many of you have been suddenly thrust into the world of remote work. I do not hold myself out as an expert in this matter, but I have pretty much worked from home for 25 years. When I first started, remote working was called unemployment. Today, it is a credible, but still misunderstood, way to earn a living. Let me give you some do’s and don'ts from my hard-earned experience.
There are many daily routines required for the office that appear dispensable once one is sequestered at home. After all, remote working is in large part about freedom. One of the first things to go, for men at least, is shaving. Men don’t like to shave--it’s cumbersome, fraught with danger and unnatural from an evolutionary perspective. It’s well known that Primal Man wore a beard to keep his face warm in winter and protect his face from the sun in summer. I am not making this up. (Ok I am.)
If you part with the razor, that’s okay. BUT you have to commit to a facial hair strategy. It’s either a beard (it was good enough for Abe Lincoln or Tevye in Fiddler) or nothing. Stubble makes you look sloppy and a bit scary. Kind of like a Robert Downey Jr mugshot (pick your favorite--there are many).
The other major hygiene issue is the shower. This one’s simple--you need to shower at least every third day, preferably every other day. After two days of not showering, your hair takes on an unnatural sheen. And it sticks together in unnatural shapes. After a week without a shower, I’ve been known to shape my hair into a swan, like they do with aluminum foil wrapped leftovers at nice restaurants. Not a good look. Check out Jack Nicholson at a Lakers game. Enough said.
Many of us who work from home make grave sartorial mistakes. While the office people take wearing clothes for granted, this is not so among the home-bound. We are social-distancing for a living, and judgment can be impaired.
Here’s a real-life example. The postal worker deposits your mail. You are super stoked because this is the one time all day a person will visit your workspace (unless you start another grease fire and the firefighters show up). You run to the door, go to the mailbox and shuffle through the mail. But you are wearing your boxers. Your bathrobe. Your silky pajamas. And your nosy neighbors are all agape looking out their respective windows at you. You smile and walk back to your door with all the dignity you can muster. Inevitably, you are uninvited from Neighborhood Watch meetings. In fact you are on the Watch List.
If you are on a video conference call with the office, wear a shirt or blouse that matches the decorum of the office. What you do below the waist is your business. As long as you don’t fetch the mail during the call.
One last tip to make sure you keep your job. When you are on a video call that includes your boss, look at them with admiration. Sparkling eyes with a slight smile. Almost a little teary. As if you’re looking at them and wondering how such a perfect being could exist.
While there is a need for a bit of levity in these times, I do want to share a thought or two about feeling happy and healthy. You can still interact with other people; it’s actually important. There are people who need social interaction on a frequent basis and others who thrive without it. Recognize who you are. But everyone needs other people.
If you are now a remote worker, you are presented with a unique challenge. Work in spurts of 40 minutes to an hour. You can get a TON done when you are not in an office subject to interruptions. You do not need to be tethered to your desk in order to be productive. Find time during the day to break away from your house. Just go for a walk. Hang out in a park, if you can maintain a safe distance from others. Seeing people will help give you perspective. It can be lonely at home. Especially now.
One thing not to do is to use TV as a substitute for people. It is not the same. I recommend keeping the TV off until after hours. Except for Family Feud. I get most of my news from that.
And if you have children, this will present a new type of distraction. But this can be a great opportunity for you and the kids. Take planned breaks to spend time with them. Let them know when and how long those breaks will be. Set up activities the night before. Turn all of this into a positive so you can have special time with your children and, above all, support their needs during this time.
With all the distractions at home, keep in mind that office workers likely work about 40% of the day. The rest of the time is filled with informal conversations with coworkers, lunch and coffee breaks, and probably some mental breaks, too . So, don’t mind the distractions. Chances are you will still be very productive, even when juggling your home life.
If you’re a little freaked out about working from home, remember that there are many who have been laid off. You have a job. It’s a great time to be grateful. And to order some extra razor blades.
Shave, shower and wear clothes. Sounds simple right? While times have changed, the benefits of working from home have not. It opens up great new possibilities.
Take care of each other and enjoy your new office.
About the Author
David Urman is a GigX Charter Member, a Fractional Chief Revenue Officer, and Fractional Chief Legal Officer. His primary value is focused and aggressive profitable revenue generation, and offers multiple skill sets as a sales leader and in-house counsel when needed, while also being responsible for P&L success.
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