Archive for the ‘Semi-Commuter’ Category
Mitch Joel, author of the Twist Image blog, has a number of tips for working on the road. These are useful for employees and digital nomads alike. Here’s a summary:
- Always have an extra charger for everything.
- Keep your devices as fully charged at all times as possible.
- Ditch the briefcase, and get a nice looking knapsack or backpack.
- Take all of your cables, chargers, headphones, adapters, USB memory sticks, dongles and more and store them in one bag.
- Save it to the cloud.
- Block out the world with a good pair of in-ear headphones
- Being your own extension cord.
Mercer Insights produced this fascinating infographic about telecommuting and other flexible work arrangements (click the picture for a larger version):
Infographic by Mercer Insights
Although in general we endorse an Out of Office work style, we also know it isn’t right in all circumstances. The Wharton Business School published an article “When Working at Home Is Productive, and When It’s Not”, which is worth reading for the pros and cons of telecommuting. It was written at the time of the Yahoo! telecommuting controversy in March, but it’s still relevant now.
Citrix has created a fascinating infographic about the changing nature of the workplace when it comes to work styles (click the picture for the full version):
In this episode, we share 25 simple but effective tips for improving your Out of Office work style – in the areas of productivity, e-mail, reducing interruptions, flexibility, and online meetings.
Listen to the episode here:
Buy the book here (available at a reduced price for a limited time).
Summary of the 25 tips:
Set up your workspace with productivity in mind:
- Have a dedicated office
- Make it easy to switch between workspaces
- Create good ergonomics
- Make it a place where you like to work
- Turn off alerts for non-urgent communication
- Conversely, allow important and urgent messages to get through
- Educate people about your work day
- Schedule work for quiet times
Manage your time:
- Use the Pomodoro Technique or Work Sprints
- Set priorities for the day
- Track your time
- Focus on outcomes and results, and keep promises you make to others
Handle email efficiently:
- Don’t use your inbox as your To Do list.
- Separate processing from responding
- Unsubscribe from irrelevant newsletters, notifications, and mailing lists
- Use sub-folders to organise incoming mail
Run better online meetings:
- Have a pre-meeting checklist
- Know what you want to get from the meeting
- “Arrive” early, and be ready to start on time
- Get comfortable with the technology
Be flexible, but in a smart way:
- Set aside dedicated time slots each week for certain things
- Establish a routine for the day
- Set weekly goals rather than daily goals
- Mix it up
- Try different things, and break all the rules!
In a recent blog post at Fast Company magazine, Anya Kamenetz makes the point that most of the research doesn’t support Out of Office work.
Here’s one extract from the post:
“The business case for face time is that it promotes more creativity, innovation, collaboration–in one study, even more job satisfaction. The workers who talked to each other more were much more satisfied with their jobs, while email exchanges had no such effect.”
However, the article does also say “We’re all figuring this out as we go along”! So it’s worth reading it for perspective.
Fast Company magazine published an interesting article with advice for telecommuters. You can read the full article here, but in summary, here are the three things the author, Kevin Purdy, advises:
- Look the Part, Be the Part (dress up as if you’re going to the office)
- Schedule offline social time, batch your online social time (schedule your breaks, just like you’d do in the office)
- Realize when the problem is motivation, not space (do stuff that motivates you)
I have no argument with the second point, and in fact we endorse that in the book “Out of Office” when talking about personal productivity. But the other two points are more controversial.
First, I don’t believe it’s necessary to “suit up” if you’re working from home. Of course, I’m not suggesting you dress and act like a slob in your home office! But that’s just an extreme, and dressing up for the office is the other extreme. For many Out of Office workers, one of the biggest benefits is that every day is Casual Friday, and it’s good enough to dress comfortably. If you do find it helps to dress slightly better, then do so, but it’s certainly not necessary.
The other point – about working on stuff that motivates you – makes sense, but the advice isn’t always practical. We might all wish for more inspiring work, but that’s true whether or not we work in an office. Purdy doesn’t offer anything useful to improve the situation (other than a vague suggestion to “plan your next move”). Of course, if you can arrange to do something more meaningful and interesting, that helps. But sometimes you really do need to roll up your sleeves and do what needs to be done. In that latter situation, it’s far better to focus on being more productive rather than wishing for something better.
When you’re working Out of Office, you often don’t get the natural distractions that come from working with others. Although some of these distractions can be annoying and harmful to your productivity, they also have some positive side effects. In particular, they prevent you from spending excessively long intervals working at your desk. This means you have to be disciplined enough to create your own management plan to prevent stress, poor posture, and overwork.
The Workshifting team has five suggestions to help:
- Take frequent breathers.
- Walk at lunch.
- Play some of your favorite tunes.
- Don’t be afraid to say No.
One of the productivity tips we offer in the At Your Convenience chapter of the book is to subscribe to the Web Feeds of your favourite blogs and Web sites. We also recommend using Google Reader to do this. Unfortunately, Google recently announced that they will be retiring Reader on July 1, 2013.
So, if like us, you use Google Reader then you’ll need to move your feed subscriptions to another tool. Google provides advice on how to export your feed subscriptions using the Google Takeaway service. If you’ve not done this already, then now is a good time. It’s quick and easy.
As for choosing an alternative tool for consuming Web feeds, there are many choices. Slashdot recently published a list of four popular alternatives to Google Reader:
For what it’s worth, I’ve migrated to Feedly. My reasons for doing so are as follows:
- I can run it on my desktop PC using the Feedly plug-in for Firefox
- I can run it on my tablet or smart phone using the Feedly Android app
- It can automatically import your Google Reader subscriptions
If you use a different Web feed reader then please leave a comment.
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