I’ve worked from home for 22 years. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Viewed in The Wall Street Journal.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to unfold globally with over a million confirmed cases as of this writing, a great number of individuals are choosing to or being forced into working remotely from home.

Many of these employees have never worked remotely before, and many companies have a limited to non-existent amount of experience in managing their businesses in this fashion.

Yet, we know that many individuals in various professions have been able to perform at high levels remotely and have worked this way for years.

Alexandra Samuel (the author of this Wall Street Journal article) is one such example.

She and her husband have worked from home for over two decades (22 years to be exact), and they have some lessons to share for those moving from in-office to home-based work environments.

One of the first of these lessons is an honest recognition that there exist vast differences between working in an office with others and working at home in professional isolation.

“If you’re working in an office, much of your ‘workday’ is made up of meetings in which you’re mostly listening, in addition to water-cooler chat, collegial conversations and random interruptions,” Samuel writes.

The result, she contends, is that a productive day in the office may include four hours or so of “decent work time.”

Because the home work environment does not typically involve any of these meetings or in-person disruptions, it can actually prove vastly more productive.

Samuel writes that she actually can accomplish more from home in five hours than she would in an office in eight hours.

And yet, it is not necessarily as simple as that.

The human interaction of an office environment also offers a much-needed break, which means that, according to Samuel, working more than five or six hours in a row can lead to getting “really burned out and isolated.”

Among numerous other suggestions, Samuel suggests identifying three priorities for each day—and perhaps even sharing those with a colleague or group of colleagues for the purposes of accountability.

Time management systems like Timing,app or ManicTime also can be helpful in assessing how your remote time is utilized, potentially pointing to opportunities to ensure that time allocation is in line is with identified priorities.

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