Highgroove recently ran an experiment: Could we work remotely, and do it well? We thought so, and to test the theory, we rented two houses in Rosemary Beach for a week.
This was no vacation. Our office had been relocated to a new setting, but the same expectations for meeting results applied.
Before we left for Florida, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would it be hard to focus with the beach so nearby? Would it be challenging to be as productive as when I work from our Atlanta office? Even though I wasn’t sure of the answers to these questions, I was determined to provide the same value and results that I would in any other week.
In fact, there were several things that helped me be more productive while I was at the beach:
Getting to work earlier. I was actually able to get to work earlier than usual, for a couple of reasons. First, we were working from the Central Time Zone instead of the Eastern one, so even though I woke up at my usual time, it was actually an hour earlier in Florida.
Second, I didn’t have to face traffic before work. I could wake up, go downstairs, grab a bagel and immediately start working. The farthest I ever really needed to “commute” was across the street to the other house or a few blocks away to a coffee shop. This allowed me to get into the rhythm of immediately settling into work and being productive for several hours.
Continuing momentum and earning rewards. Being productive in the morning gave me the motivation to push through and end my workday with a strong finish. I treated going to the beach or pool as a reward that I earned only after I had finished my work for the day. Instead of being a distraction, setting the beach as a reward really helped me focus on getting my work done.
Interacting with co-workers. Having everyone in one place made it easier to socialize outside of work. Each night, a different group made dinner and we all sat down to eat together, then hung out and watched TV or played games. Being together frequently also created an environment where it was easy to talk about projects and ask questions as they came up.
There were a few challenges to working remotely. I missed my great set-up at the Atlanta office. I’ve gotten used to working in comfortable Aeron chairs and using two monitors. Bringing those to the beach wasn’t really feasible, and using only my laptop’s screen meant that I spent more time switching between windows or trying to find the one I needed. This did distract me a bit, but by the end of the week I had acclimated to the change.
The internet service provided also wasn’t really up to the challenge of handling a dozen or more users. I was able to stop by the local coffee shops to use their wifi, but next time, I would probably prepare by enabling tethering on my phone.
In the end, the beach week experiment was a success, and we proved that we could be just as productive as we would have been when working from our office in Atlanta. It was a lot of fun and I am hoping that we do something like it again in the future.
Do you work remotely? What are the challenges or benefits you encounter?