When 9-5 project managers make the transition into remote working, most of them do so to bask in the flexibility of work hours, to reel in the freedom that wasn’t present in their day jobs. On taking these leaps into new terrain, these managers become too comfortable with being in their personal space that they often would have to force human contact. Despite the freedom that remote working offers, there is a dark cast lurking in the shadows, waiting to lead you into living like a hermit. Becoming too comfortable as a remote project manager can be detrimental to your health and social life.
How do you know you are towing the hermit line? You have been indoors for three days at a go, your fridge is empty, and without the necessary stock butt you keep working regardless, you haven’t had any human contact in the days where you have been stuck indoors, you are so comfortable that you work all day in your pajamas, and you don’t care for your physical appearance. In other words, you are well on your way to becoming a hermit. The good news is that you are not alone, as research has pointed. This study from the University of Iowa and the University of Texas at Austin concluded that remote workers (even part-time) working outside a traditional office setting worked for three hours more per week than regular office workers. While working from the comfort of your home can be comfortable and help spur your productivity, there is a black side to this shiny coin in the increased threat of impostor syndrome and loneliness, both of which are risk causes of burnout and depression ultimately thwarting productivity. Research from the University of Amsterdam proves that a lack of social interaction might be a risk factor for depression, and it’s almost impossible to be in touch with your productive side when depressed.
As a project manager, you could desire the freedom that comes from working wherever and the benefits of human or social interaction and still escape from the hermit lifestyle. Here are a few tips to avoid becoming a hermit:
Find a Work Buddy: having no coworkers to socialize with is one of the missing elements of transitioning to remote working. As a remote project manager, there are chances that you have a friend towing the same line of remote working even though in a different sector from management. You could pair up with this person to keep you motivated and, of course, provide you with the necessary human contact. Having chit chats with a work buddy will help increase your workflow and cause a significant difference in your workflow. Since working from home can be very lonely, having a sound support system in someone that does something similar can curtail the struggle.
Work Outside of Home: No rulebook limits a remote project manager to working from home alone. If anything, remote working affords you the freedom of working wherever at whatever time that is suitable for you. So stepping out of your comfort zone to work from a coffee shop or a library can give you just the right amount of human contact. Better still, you could join a co-working space or a workstation that caters for remote workers. Co-working spaces are usually paid for, but that’s a small sacrifice to make when compared to the hermit lifestyle.
Opt for A Phone Conversation: when working remotely, likely, the most used means of communication between you, your teammates, and clients are emails, texts, Slack, or placing comments on project management software with communication tools. These means of communication somewhat limit human contacts, you could opt-out for voice or video calls instead of strictly relying on the text-only form of communication. Make work-related calls to project team members and clients before commencing the day’s task, so you’re immediately connected into life outside the house; doing this can help you plan priorities for the day.
Plan Outfits the Night Before: Remote workers seem to forget the ‘work’ part of remote working and let themselves go in uninspiring pajamas or comfortable hoodies. It may appear silly to pick a work outfit for working at home, but treating your work at home as you would in an office setting ensures you are ready for anything, including accepting to go out with friends at the last minute or dropping into a video chat with the team. Getting dressed in a work outfit signals your brain that you are getting ready to get things done while remaining in slacks, joggers or pyjamas tells your brain that you are about to relax on a movie or a past time.
Create A Playlist: Music makes the working at home experience better. Creating a playlist of the songs you love and playing them in the background while you work can help spur your productivity. The caveat to this is to listen to music without lyrics when working on a task that requires writing. When you listen to lyrics of a song, they occupy the parts of your brain that deal with words; this means there’s not a lot of attention left over for more words.
Build A Routine: Remote working affords you the flexibility to start your day in whatever way you deem fit while this is advantageous, it could also cause a mess pretty soon if there isn’t a structured routine for different times of the day. As a remote project manager or team member working in a project, make a solid routine out of your mornings by waking up at the same time every day, avoid working in bed, eating healthy, and exercising. At noon, create a specific time for lunch breaks and stick to it. For evenings, set a standard time to close for the day, watch your favorite TV shows after work, and hang out with friends when the opportunity presents itself.
Working remotely as a project manager gives you the freedom of flexibility, a creative space you can call your own, and ultimately time. It is vital to take advantage of it and build your weird habits to create a daily experience that’s rewarding and allows you to connect to the outside world.