What Remote Workers Need Right Now

A warm Tuesday email

Anyone else feeling kind of tired? Not necessarily burnt out, but simply… ready for something different. The pandemic has been going on since March, which seems just long enough to be an eternity but also not so long that we’re genuinely used to this new way of living. Even for the more homebody types like me, not leaving my apartment for weeks on end is a bit exhausting after a while. 

I chose to work remotely, giving up the perks and social life of an office, for location freedom and the ability to explore. This is something I’ve learned is a true driving force behind all folks who choose remote work. On the flip side, speaking to remote workers forced to be remote due to COVID, I hear how much they value the energy and vibe of an office. It’s not for me, but I get it. 

And now it seems we’re all in the same storm that’s forcing people to be remote that don’t want to and removing many of the good things about remote work that others like. How fun, right? Meanwhile we’re still debating the merits of remote work right now as if this isn’t literally pandemic survival working, not fun remote work.

With all that, it’s clear that remote workers - forced or by choice - need a few things. 

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Creative outlets

This used to be going to museums for me, pre-COVID. I live in Toronto and loved going to the Art Gallery of Ontario (the AGO), which has a fantastic collection of art and sculpture. While I’m not an artist personally, I loved seeing how others created works whether for beauty, telling a story, making a statement, or a mix of the three. 

In quarantine, I picked up some DIY-ing. In particular, reupholstery.

Don’t have a creative outlet yet? That might exacerbate the frustration you’re no doubt feeling.

Room to breathe

Yes, remote work is more productive. That’s a simple fact, largely attributed to two things: 

  1. Fewer distractions

  2. More time spent working

While fewer distractions is a great thing, spending all day at the computer working because you have nothing else to do is not (see the first point about getting a creative outlet).

I understand that work can be a fantastic way to avoid thinking about the pandemic, particularly if you need a distraction from someone close to you being affected. I understand this because it’s also my outlet - I love my work, and it’s something I can get lost in. But as people, remote workers or not, we need room to breathe and room to not work. Don’t deprive yourself of that fundamental truth just because the game has changed temporarily. 

To be consulted

This one’s more for the bosses of remote workers, but I’m speaking from the perspective of a remote worker. And in short: good lord, companies need to stop making massive decisions about how people work without asking those people for their opinions. 

You can say this is due to the pandemic, but in reality it’s simple change management tactics. By involving people throughout the decision of a change, you not only win their championship and help along the way, but chances are you get better ideas. 

Avery Francis (an entrepreneur I interviewed on Remotely Inclined Chats) wrote an open letter that included this call. It was from the perspective of HR, but she spoke directly about employees. Here’s what she said: 

“What we really need from you is to consult your employees — all of them. Ask for their opinions, thoughts, responses, and feelings. This isn’t about appeasement. You aren’t required to find a solution that makes everyone happy or incorporates every single person’s opinion. This is an exercise in veracity. You are the leader because your team trusts you to make decisions. However, you’re still only one person — let your team provide you with insights, ideas, and suggestions that help you make a decision with the best available data.”

Check out the full article here.

Need to chat? Reach out 

If you’re feeling a little bleh about the whole remote work thing (or the whole pandemic thing), leave a comment or send me an email. You aren’t alone, I promise. But I also know that remote work can be lonely. If you need to chat, reach out. 

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