With remote working, one of the biggest fears managers seem to have is “How do I know people are working?”. Through my interviews, I find that remote workers tend to work too much, not too little. In a world where we’re always on, how do remote workers find a healthy balance?


Original transcript

Welcome to the Collaboration Superpowers podcast. My name is Lisette and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely. Welcome to episode 38, everybody. When you hear this, I’ll be in a remote resort near São Paulo, Brazil, participating in the learning 3.0 camp. They teach facilitators how to be learning facilitators instead of just trainers or experts standing in the room. So of course I have a great interest in this. But the reason why I’m there is that they invited me to be there to answer questions and to talk about how do we apply some of these learning techniques when we are remote. What are the things that we can do? So myself and Kendra The KUBI are going to show off new technologies, best practices, and tips with everybody. It’s a hard life, I know. So today, on the theme of loving what we do, I wanted to talk a little bit about how we manage being always on. There’s this weird thing that I noticed in the interviews that I’m doing, which is managers seem to be afraid that they won’t know what the remote workers are doing and how do we know that they’re working. But actually, most remote workers tend to work too much and not too little. So given that we have ubiquitous technology and it’s only getting better and better, I think this issue becomes more and more important.

There’s another component of this that occurred to me just recently, which is what if we want to be working. What if we love what we’re doing and we’re just kind of in our zone when we’re doing this thing? I feel that way most of the time. I’m sort of loving what I’m doing, I feel like this is exactly where I’m good, and I want to be doing this. But too much of a good thing becomes not a good thing anymore. What I’m finding is we can trust that the following is true, that working too much is not healthy, and taking regular breaks is healthy. Very simple, I know, but it doesn’t have to be more complicated. So given that we can trust that this is true, there are a few basic standards out there that seem to be universal. One is take care of the basics. So that means eating well and sleeping well, exercising, really the basics.

Another tip is to schedule free days. These are days where we have no meetings, no appointments, no obligation, just full days that we can use and schedule as we wish.

The next tip is to travel. When we stay in one place too long, we have old ideas and old connections. So in order to have new ideas, new connections, new innovations, we have to go outside of our own world and see new things. So whether that’s just taking a day trip to the next town or exploring a new building in the town that you already live in or going to some far-off, exotic place, the important thing is to just put yourself slightly out of your comfort zone and experience something new.

Next is simplify. And by simplify, I mean throw things out. Take those piles that have been sitting around for too long and take care of them and get rid of them. And just go back to what is it that you really need. And it’s not just physical stuff. Think about digital stuff as well. I mean how many newsletters are you still subscribed to? Maybe it’s time to minimize how much email is coming your way. Whatever you need to do to de-clutter, give it a shot and let me know how it goes for you.

The next tip is one that I have been struggling with lately, which is saying no. When we’re laser-focused on what we should be doing, then it becomes pretty easy to say no to the things that don’t contribute to that goal. When you say no, you can better take care of what’s on your plate. The last one that I’ll mention is unplug. And by this, I mean not just unplug devices or don’t take them with you. I don’t mean that, actually. What I mean is doing something mindless. Maybe it’s watching a movie, maybe it’s going on a hike, something that just lets your mind run in the background while you create and do something beautiful.

All right, everybody. Those are my tips for managing being always on. If you have tips to add or stories to tell, you can reach me at collaborationsuperpowers.com. Next week we are back with another interview, so stay tuned. A big bravo to Nick, the podcast monster who is keeping this podcast regular and up and running while I am off in Brazil leading the exotic [inaudible – 05:08]. Thanks, Nick. You can hire him to make you an adventurous star at podcastmonster.com. All right, everybody. Until next time, be powerful.


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