Calls late in the evening, the familiar ping of arriving emails or text messages on your iPhone or Blackberry. Everyone who works at home knows that being available twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week, fifty-two weeks per year is a price of entry to working remotely.
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The definition of “vacation” and “off hours” are rapidly changing for remote workers. Lines are blurring between work, off hours, time off, and vacation.
Has it always been this way? Does it have to be this way?
The answer is a resounding NO. The downside of the technology that allows remote workers to work remotely, often on their own schedule is that they are expected to be “always on”. This is bad for remote workers and their employers or customers and clients.
We are becoming an Attention Deficit Disorder society, especially in the workplace, and more so in the remote workplace.
The constant flow of communications may give an illusion of productivity, but the reality is that constant distractions and interruptions do not facilitate enough time to rest our brains and refresh our creative faculties. This makes for lower long-term productivity and work quality.
There are steps remote workers can take to reverse this trend and protect their vacation time and off hours.
1. Schedule your work hours and publicly communicate the schedule. Even if your schedule is non traditional or scattered throughout the week, make it clear when you are available and not available.
2. Communicate expectations for response times to questions, issues, and other requests. Setup out of office messages for email when your are not scheduled for work, include your schedule and how quickly you will respond. Keep your voicemail message updated every day. Provide different response times for different priorities. If you are on vacation, communicate contact information for your backup or emergency contact information.
3. Strictly adhere to your schedule and communication protocols. Do not make exceptions.
4. Use non work hours and vacation time to disconnect. Do not check email. Only check voicemail at predetermine times. Do not answer calls.
Reclaim your off hours and vacation time. Your overall effectiveness will rise and you will be less distracted, more productive, and happier.
We welcome your feedback and would love to hear you comments and personal experience with this topic.
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