For much of the world, the sudden shift to working remotely has been a shock and a challenge. For those of us here at The Kevin Eikenberry Group, it’s been a typical work week….kind of. In this series, we want to share our perspective as veterans “on the front lines” of remote work. We’ve learned a thing or two over the years that we hope might help you in your transition.
How long have you been working remotely?
I started working from my home in August of 2001 – almost 19 years. I started before YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Zoom, Slack, and smartphones.
What was your biggest challenge when you first started working from home and how did you overcome it?
Finding a protected place to work. At the time, I had two small children and my mother-in-law in our home. I found that I needed a dedicated workspace to be effective. We closed our open dining room with a door, a cabinet, and a curtain. It wasn’t perfect. It didn’t completely stop interruptions and background noise, but it helped.
Working from home can blur the lines between personal and professional. How do you set boundaries to help with this?
We talk about it as a family and establish clues to help my family know when I’m “working” compared to just being in my office. For example, my grandchildren (3 and 5 at the time) stayed with us for about a year. We created a stop sign that I put at the bottom of the stairs when they had to stay away. It was a big, visual clue they understood. If the stop sign was up, they stayed away. If it was down, they could come to my office to talk.
I also protect family time. Most days I leave my office and meet my wife in the kitchen to prepare and eat dinner together away from my computer and phone. I also work only in my office. If I have my computer in another part of the house, I use it for personal and family use rather than for business.
What advice would you offer for those who are just now entering the remote work force?
Find a rhythm that works for you and your family. A day working from home doesn’t look like a day working in an office. You might need to flex your work hours outside a normal workday to make all the parts fit together. You’ll need some relatively set times to be working and available for your team, and you’ll need to flex a bit to make it all work.
About the Author
Guy Harris Trainer, speaker, coach and author. Married father of two with grandchildren. Loves woodworking, building projects, writing code, cooking, and roasting coffee.