I remember the discussion I had with my partner way back in 2017. I’d worked in an office or a “place” all my life. I’m an extrovert and get my energy from interacting with others.
My idea of a work day was going to a desk where I’d get my stuff done and have all the meetings, engage in face-to-face interactions, then leave it behind and go home to my wife and kids. Plus, I always thought my personality and my desire to work with others helped to keep me accountable and productive.
But then it all changed and an opportunity to work from home came my way.
I thought: Can I really do it? Sit at home and GSD (get stuff done)?
Spoiler alert: Now I don’t think I could ever go back to an office— at least not full time.
So… How did this extrovert find his rhythm in remote work?
First, like any success story, it’s not a straight line. I’ve struggled. I’ve been unproductive. I’ve had lonely periods (especially during Covid shutdowns where I couldn’t be in a cafe surrounded by humans).
However, I’m still living it everyday and (for the most part) loving this modern workplace.
After more than 4 years, my worries and concerns that I wouldn’t be able to work in my home are gone. I even had to go back into an office for about 6 months for a job and it didn’t last. I’m back to working from home and I can’t imagine ever going back to a cubicle (or an office) full time.
As an extrovert, I had to learn how to survive without the hustle and bustle of the office. This is how I did it.
Ready to learn from my experience? Let’s help you find your work from home rhythm.
We’re fortunate in our home. My wife and I both work from home and we each have our own space. When I first started working from home I had a little desk in our dining room where people could walk through my working space. I didn’t feel like it was a “real job” since I was a bit nomadic.
So for me, setting up an office in a spare room was huge. I can now close a door for client calls or podcasting. I can leave it open for human (and feline) interaction.
The key for me was setting up a space to help me feel like I was transitioning from home to work. Instead of a 30-to-60 minute commute, it’s merely seconds. But it’s my change into work mindset.
It’s so easy to let work bleed over into your personal life. While that’s not inherently terrible, it can become a problem. I set my boundaries through my calendar. For me, the last 45 minutes of the day are for tasks that I can work on (no client calls or internal meetings if possible) so I can wind down.
Then when my day is done, I walk away. Even if I come back to my computer for a personal matter like one of my podcasts, I have to set the boundary that I’m done with work.
In addition to setting the calendar, you can set your Slack notifications to snooze when you’re not working. You can keep your work email off your phone. If you’re a social media manager, it may feel impossible to walk away from the company accounts, but if you can set a boundary and find help to manage the messages, it’s important to be able to turn away from work.
If you’re able, set a boundary that designations some space in your home exclusively for work. When you’re away from the space, you’re not reachable.
Boundaries can help to keep your WFH life in harmony.
We extroverts love collaboration. When we get energy from others, collaborating can feel exhilarating.
So what do you do when you’re in your apartment or your house and you aren’t working with others?
One of my favorite things about Impulse Creative is the willingness of others to simply get on a video call and work together, brainstorm, chat (we call those donuts!) or answer random questions.
You can set collaborative hours in your calendar, or make it impromptu. But staying connected is critical.
A real exercise: Set up a video call with someone and just work on your own things during those 30 minutes. Maybe you’ll have a question or an idea to share, or perhaps you’ll simply work better having someone “near” you. Even if it sounds weird, we extroverts tend to do better when we’re connected.
Or maybe it’s just me. Sorry, George.
Speaking of connecting, it’s so easy to stay connected. Use technology to your advantage.
I mentioned previously that we have something called donuts at Impulse Creative. They’re random meeting invites that go out in a round-robin style from Slack, pairing colleagues for 30-minutes of casual conversation. It’s great!
We also use Slack like any other team, including channels for GIFs, pet pics, Office memes, music… It’s so nice to see personalities come through across so many miles.
My advice: Take advantage of the communication tools to stay connected with your fellow humans. Don’t be afraid to hop on a video call, use Slack or instant messaging, text or simply call your coworkers.
Don’t be an island. Stay connected.
Even good things can hurt. Moderation can help ensure our mental health.
While I love being connected to my coworkers, it’s also good to disconnect. For instance, I snooze my Slack notifications when I’m not working. I only have personal email on my phone. During the day when I can make the time I’ll unplug for 15 minutes or my lunch break.
Don’t let technology control you.
As an extrovert, I’ve found myself feeling drained from time to time because I don’t have people around me.
My friends tell me cats don’t count.
So instead of staring at my home office wall, sometimes I change up my scenery. I take my laptop out to the yard and sit at a table outside.
I take walking meetings with my phone on the go.
I’ve gone to the local park to get my vitamin D and hear the noise of humanity.
Changing the scenery helps get me out of my funk when I’m feeling a little too alone.
Along a similar line as changing scenery is this final idea: Be around other humans.
Early on in my work-from-home journey, pre-Covid, I would visit local cafes or other human hangouts to simply be near other people. Energy is life-breathing for me.
Nowadays with some places not opening, it’s more difficult. Or if you’re feeling trepidation about being around others, it can be challenging. Even for me, having client training calls can make it a challenge to get out and work truly remotely.
However, carving out time on our calendars for the kind of work that we can do in a cafe (like writing a blog post) will help us make a purposeful choice to change things up and continue to thrive in a WFH world.
I love that my bride and I are teaching our children that you can build a fulfilling life that makes a difference. We both work remotely with the flexibility to attend kids’ activities, volunteer, find harmony between work and other life… It's working for this extrovert (and my introvert partner).
Whether it’s truly remote (I can’t wait to work from a National Park in an RV someday), working in a home office, or perhaps a hybrid model of some kind, I believe this new world of remote work freedom will prove to be a sustainable journey. It’s an adventure I embrace as an extrovert.