For my first blog, I thought it most appropriate to express how it is to work remote in technology while living on a farm. The best of both worlds.
Starting the Day
Most days, it is wonderful. After my coffee and morning news, I go out and feed the horses almost always before sunrise. They are so happy to see me, but I know it’s just the feed they want.
Once the ducks hear me coming they go crazy in their pen and when I open the door they charge out to the pond as fast as they can waddle. The roosters are the noisiest and I often wonder if my neighbors are plotting their demise (or mine!). I often feel that I’m the mother of all animals, and my life’s purpose is to care for them…pffft. Even if I am just a simple servant to them, I am rewarded tenfold just enjoying thier company.
Morning farm chores being complete, its time for the second (or third) cup of coffee and right to the computer. Login, check email, and dive right in. It’s roughly 8am…
About 9am, the roosters let me know they want to chat. They perch right outside my office window, and just wait until I get on a conference call. So awesome…not. I’ve been “called out” on the rooster-racket, so yeah, I need to address that one.
Lunchtime I usually walk around the property making sure everyone is good. We have coyotes and bobcats that like to pop in once in a while so I am in a constant worry.
One day we will get a donkey or two to help protect the flock…but I digress.
How I Work
My employer is amazing and having worked for them for 20+ years they provide me with the flexibility to work remote, take care of my family and farm. This did not come right away. It took several years to build trust and develop a strict routine. My daily schedule typically does not change. I have developed a set of principles for myself that I work hard to stick to:
- Answer emails right away. Not only is that considerate, but it lets the sender know that not only do you value them and the work, but that you are actively engaged regardless of being in the office.
- Reply to IMs immediately. My employer uses Skype, and it’s always “on”. Perhaps this point is obvious, but if someone is sending you an instant message you should instantly reply! Also, turn the volume up and make sure you get notifications. To me, the worst is when I send an IM and the receiver takes longer than 15 minutes to reply (perhaps I should have more patience but if its important to me, it should be important to them!).
- Write down notes constantly!! I have so many notebooks that have piled up over the years and feel like I have perfected this craft. I write in notebooks rather than electronic notes for to-dos, meeting minutes, etc. There’s something more cognitively impressionable about writing things down rather than electronic notes or no note taking at all.
- Schedule regular meetings with your boss or the lead(s) of your projects. Sometimes just schedule a meeting to catch up even if its only for 15 minutes. Talking on the phone is so much more personable and revealing.
- Don’t always make it about you. How are things going with them? Is there anything you can do to help? And for goodness sake don’t complain. How can your work-life balance suck if you are at home and getting paid the same as your co-workers in the office?
- Do not get involved in office politics. There is no amount of drama that is worth your time, or your co-workers time. Keep it professional unless you are talking to your very best best friend – and even so, you are working.
- Politely tell your family your office hours are off-limits. My adult children are still my children and will send me texts throughout the day. They have learned that I may not reply for some time. And they almost never just “pop-in” because they know they may not get the response they were hoping for. I love my family, and I’m sure you love yours. Setting the boundaries for your work time is crucial!
- It’s all about attitude. Of course that can apply for in-office workers as well as remote folks. If you are a natural positive “can-do” professional, you’re all set. Unfortunately being cynical, or someone who is sometimes too busy to be bothered…you may have some challenges. Since you are remote, non-verbal cues are non-existent so your language and tone are everything.
Let’s face it – I work to afford the feed bill and enjoy this lifestyle. And of course because I love technology. When I am feeling low, or just need human interaction I may just call up a co-worker to check-in. Staying positive, engaged and keeping to a strict schedule are key in my opinion!!