Updated: Apr 16
Being a remote contributor was a part of my daily life before Covid-19 became a household name. My previous east coast co-workers, whom only saw my face via Zoom or Uber Conference, were abruptly replaced with my spouse. Pre-Covid we spent more time with our co-workers than we did with one another on an average work day. Needless to say there was a conversion required to create an effective workspace in our one bedroom apartment.
Hold my mug...
Mornings run on java in our home office, but not Dunkin since we live in Seattle. Coincidentally my new co-worker's mornings are also jumpstarted in the same fashion. This scenario repeatedly left me in a predicament that I did not foresee prior to sharing a home office: "Who refills the coffee pot?". I have not always been a remote contributor. In prior experiences, however, the last to empty the pot was the one to brew the next pot. This was not the case for my spouse since at his office, they had a Keurig.
To set the stage, we do not own a conventional coffee pot, but a french press. The french press makes about 3 cups of coffee, 2 of which I easily drink on my own (and so can he). This small measure forced us to realize not only would there be more than a shift in where we did our work, but in how we operated though our newly transformed "open office".
Learning to consider one another in respect as co-workers during our "work shifts" may sound cold when it pertains to a loved-one, but that is essentially what we are until we clock out.
One shared home office does not equal one shared meeting room. Prior to sharing our home office, my meetings took place in our office space, also I had very few requiring my camera on, though all my meetings were virtual. Post Covid-19, most of my meetings were held me camera ready and coffee in hand.
In order to avoid any unintended reveals, my spouse and I began mornings with check-ins to discuss who took the office area or bedroom for our daily meetings. Occasionally there was an impromptu cameo made, but this communication of quick daily schedules "staff briefings" made for a more effective use of a shared workspace in such a small space. We also share a google calendar for meetings and errands.
Office Hours & Work-life Balance
Keeping office hours is a mark I miss sometimes, but this is a goal of both mine and my spouse. Cutting work off and "commuting back home" is a ritual we realize we must be conscious of. There has to be a time that we leave work at work and keep home sacred. In that way, my co-worker is also my my accountability buddy when it comes to sticking to our office hours, and vice versa.
While living alone, that role belonged to Alexa and my iPhone alarm. But multiple people in a home/workspace must communicate, and at times over communicate daily tasks. Working remote has its benefits, but forgetting to stick to office hours takes a toll: The task of cleaning up around shared areas increases, ordering out became more frequent, sleep patterns are impacted, and the list goes on.
Being a remote contributor taught me how to value my time. Being a good steward of your time is part of a good work ethic. This will absolutely overflow into your other efforts. Your client/employers should respect you and your time for the solid effort you put in to your projects. Holding to the standards for when you execute your work will enforce this notion.
Working from Home and Live Remotely
The life of a remote contributor is not easy and many were thrown in it without understanding this skillset due to social distancing. Some have realized the benefits, and are managing the reality that "home" can evolve into a space where you refresh after work has been done. This understanding allowed me the ability to essentially work from anywhere (so long as I have the necessary tools, conditions, etc). If you have the opportunity I encourage to not only Work From Home and also Live Remotely.