Picture of my 3 kids and 2 cats pretending to interrupt my remote work at home.
Me, my 3 kids, and 2 of our cats.

I've worked remotely for years. I truly enjoy it. But these last couple of months has even challenged me. Many things have been disrupted and shifted for all of us. Is there a way out?

Yes, there is.

Having “choice” makes a tremendous difference in how successful remote work can be for you and your team.

Choice may seem in short supply right now. You may be home-schooling your kids when you didn’t plan to. You and your “significant other” may have to juggle who handles different home tasks while each of you attends to work tasks. Deadlines and demands become inescapable when your refuge (your home) becomes the focus of those demands.

And still, you have a choice.

When you first joined this list, you may recall information I shared on “hours of overlap.” If you don’t recall, look at this article as a refresher. Talking with your teams and your family about where you can choose to overlap becomes a powerful way to set expectations with both of those important groups in your life. If gives you a choice and it gives them a choice.

For instance, in this example from the article, notice that everyone on this team (1) is in the same time zone, (2) has different work presences around when they are available, and (3) has other commitments outside the team.

A table showing a team with only 3 hours where they are available to each other.

In the original story, Dave and Polly had other meetings. But what if this was the present day? What if these were family commitments because Dave and Polly have kids? Maybe they are home-schooling?

Regardless, there are only three hours in the day when the entire team is available to each other.

If the team discusses the current reality and their choices, they may find out that Fred and Sandra have kids too, and they struggle with when to be with their families. After further discussion, they all decide they can shift their hours to spend time with their family in the late afternoon.

In the discussion, the team also discovers Polly has a young child. She can’t wait until the end of the day. But she also talks with her husband to spread out her time with the family, as shown below.

Table of the same team adjusting work hours and now available 4 hours to each other.

The team has now found one additional hour where they can collaborate. They have shifted from three hours of 100% availability to four hours.

The team members and their families leveraged their power of choice.

So you may not feel you have a choice, but by visualizing where your struggles show up and discussing them with the people who are also affected, I often find choices.

I hope you will be able to use this to find a choice too.

Here is to creating “better normals” through choice.


P.S. You can find all my past writing on Hours of Overlap on my website and in our book, From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams.