What are some best practices for remote work over the phone? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Here are ways I stay engaged when working remotely over the phone:
Go hands free, get out of the chair, and wander about.
When I am working over the phone, whether listening to/leading a teleconference or having a one-on-one conversation, I tend to stand up and walk around. The movement keeps me sounding awake and engaged. Sometimes I'll walk out of the office and wander around the house. Being in a different space can make a difference for brains that start tuning out from routine and sameness. Of course, this works if you don't have to reference anything at a desk, but I have set up a laptop in another part of the house that is networked to my office computer, which means I can access information I may need in a different space.
I like to put the phone on speaker mode and either plug in headphones when I want to wander around, or I'd put the phone in a set place and speak into it like a microphone and gesture the way I'd talk if I were speaking with another person.
Get on video conferences whenever possible.
I have a tougher time zoning out when I'm seeing someone's face, or when I know the other person can see me. For this reason, video conferencing like Skype or FaceTime are great tools for staying engaged for those of us who conduct most of our business tasks via telephone and email.
This also means I have to wear something "business like" at least on top, fix my face (at least putting lipstick on so I don't look anemic or half-asleep), and ensure I clear away areas that are visible on screen. Even if I'm not going to video conference with anyone that day, dressing in business casual attire can make a difference for my level of engagement.
By now, many people have Skype or FaceTime or Google Hangout on their devices. I suspect that video conferencing will be as ubiquitous as teleconferencing, with the added benefit of allowing us to see each other's facial expressions and body language/gestures.
Break up the monotony: schedule in recess, lunch, and 2nd recess.
I took a lesson from my kid's elementary school schedule and make sure I break up the day 2 recesses and a lunch break. Each "recess" or break is about 20 minutes where I get a snack and catch up on news (usually on YouTube, which isn't always a good idea because I'm sitting back down in a chair, but now for me YouTube is Life) and do something completely unrelated to work (like Quora).
The tough part with being remote based is that we lack the physical community and corporate rituals (water cooler chats, meetings, going out with coworkers for lunch) that challenges different parts of our brains beyond the mental/intellectual. After a while we can start feeling disconnected and isolated. Creating some structure, however loosely (i.e. I don't always take 1st recess at 10:10 am like my kid does at school), is critical in preventing burn-out and feelings of isolation when working remotely.
This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:
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