I distinctly remember missing a work call on one device because I was listening to music on the other and thinking “if only”.
In 2007 I joined Twitter and got an iPhone (I’m an Apple fanboi). Twitter was amazing back then – talk to strangers, stay connected. Over the next few years, my music was interrupted by calls, replies, breaking news, notifications and everything else.
A couple of years ago I saw the LightPhone – a phone designed for you not to use it. No notifications, no feeds, very pretty but simple design. And I thought it was a great idea.
So now I’m doing my own version of that.
I’ve switched off most notifications and I don’t carry my phone with me much. I can receive calls, send messages and listen to music and books on my Apple Watch (fanboi, remember?). But not much else.
And I can feel the difference. That urge to read any old crap because I’ve got 30 seconds to fill is still there but I’m aware of it and use that time to stay where I am instead.
Because you don’t have to keep doing things the same way you’ve always done them.
So what small change should you be making? And what’s stopping you?
I’ve worked for clients who wanted me to come in to the office and I’ve been surprised how two people, sat a few feet apart, have no idea what each other do all day.
I’ve worked for clients who never ever meet face to face and they know exactly who is doing what and what their progress is.
The key to it is putting the right infrastructure in place.
When I had a team (based in England, Russia, Nepal, Pakistan and Australia) we would sit in Slack for most of the day. All tasks were published on a jobs board and progress tracked. We would sit around and chat about what we had for breakfast or what we’d watched on TV, then get to work. If anyone got stuck or wanted help they could just ask. If a task needed a decision making, the outcome and the reasons why were recorded right there on the “job sheet” itself so everyone knew what was going on.
Working from home has been forced upon lots of us and we’ve all been making do.
But if you want to stick with it and make it part of your company’s future, you need to put the right infrastructure in place, or your communications will get even worse than when you were all sat blankly staring at each other over your desks.
You ask for feedback and don’t hear back from them for weeks. And then they reply with “oh I thought I told you it was approved”.
Even worse, they leave invoices to go unpaid.
Work is slow and they (eventually) pay well but how do you deal with this?
First – I would make sure your contract details how you communicate and how you get paid. If you don’t have a contract get one, NOW!
Second – I would explain that all communications have to go through a project management system; something like Basecamp or Asana. That way, when you need something from them, like an approval, you can set them a reminder and it will ping them until they respond. And most systems keep an audit trail so you can see (and prove if necessary) that they didn’t reply or react to your questions.
Put these in place, give them a fixed time period (say 4 weeks) to improve how they respond and if they don’t then call it a day.