By Jessica Kniaz
A few months ago, my partner and I decided to pack up our lives in Sydney and move to Amsterdam, the land of tulips, cheese and windmills. A big move like this is always bitter sweet, saying goodbye to friends and family is never easy, and it was especially hard to imagine not spending my Mondays to Fridays (and often weekends) with my Lotus family.
Well it turns out, I couldn’t say a proper goodbye, and thankfully I didn’t have to! After seeing the success of Lana working remotely as Sinead’s PA from Townsville, Sinead and I discussed how I could still add value to Lotus from a distance. With the items on Sinead’s to-do list piling up, we decided I could work on a number of business projects remotely, that wouldn’t be affected by the time difference.
As it is becoming more common place for employees to work remotely, I wanted to share my experience so far and some key aspects to consider when working remotely.
On a cold, rainy day it is so tempting to ‘work from bed’ however, this is a terrible habit to get into. Research has shown that if you spend time on your laptop in bed, this affects your ability to associate bed with sleep, meaning it can become a lot more difficult to switch your brain from work mode to rest mode. Whilst a study room or desk set up is ideal, I have found sitting at the dining table to be sufficient. I set up my laptop, chargers, water, notepad and pen at the start of the day and ensure I clear them away in the evening. By having everything I need set up in the morning, I don’t have any excuses to get up and stare in the fridge multiple times a day.
Creating a routine
Creating a routine is something I struggled with at the start, however it is so integral to working efficiently. I would recommend creating a morning routine and sticking with it from day one. Saying to yourself ‘just this once’ when you snooze your alarm on a Monday can have a ripple effect for the whole week. I set my alarm for 8am every day, do half an hour of yoga, shower, get dressed, set up my work space, make a tea, then sit down to work. When I first started working from home I would often roll out of bed and start working straight away, however I found by putting a few activities in-between sleep and work, I have been less distracted and able to work more efficiently.
This was another aspect of remote working I struggled with when starting off. As I have been doing a lot of research tasks, I’d find I’d get half way through the day then panic that I didn’t have any physical work to show for it, half start another project, reply to a couple of emails, then keep switching between a number of tasks so I felt like my time was validated. As you could imagine, this was not an efficient use of my time. I decided to start recording my time in ½ hour blocks. By doing this I feel more in control of my time, and can also objectively assess if I’m spending too long on a task or need to reassess how long a project will take me.
Given the time difference between Amsterdam and Sydney, I start working when the rest of Lotus is clocking off for the day. This means if I need to ask a question during the day, I’m not going to get a response until the next day. Because of this, I am trying to be more concise in my emails to avoid the need to go back and forth. Sinead and I also have weekly calls to update each other on project progress and plan for the week. I’d recommend finding a communication platform that works best for you and your office, and organising set days/times for check in calls. When working remotely, the more structure you can give yourself the better!
The biggest challenge
I feel so grateful that I can still work for the company I am passionate about from the other side of the world. The biggest challenge has definitely been missing seeing everyone in the office every day. Luckily though, everyone is just a call away and I have been able to explore a beautiful new country and still being part of the Lotus family.