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Does your dog know you’re going to work?

TrailBlazer Finance’s Jeff Zulman takes a look at how to set boundaries when working remotely.

If only we all had the EQ of our pets; dogs are very perceptive. They know our subconscious habits and our daily movements — often even better than we do. 

When I lace up my running shoes in the morning, my Shepherd, Plato, knows it’s time for a walk. He grabs the lead with his mouth and excitedly tugs me out the door. He also joins us in the office almost every day and sulks when left at home (no remote working for him!).

Economics professor at Stanford University and co-founder of WFH Research Nicholas Bloom was asked: “Five years from now, what percentage of the US population will work remotely?” His response: “Currently, 10 per cent of the US workforce is fully remote and 35 per cent are hybrid remote. In five years, I think both numbers will be pretty similar. Pushing this up is continued technological improvements in working-from-home technology. Pushing this down is the pandemic ebbing from memory.”

COVID-19 accelerated a lot of things – principally, the technology and the cultural acceptance that working from home (at least a part of the time) is a real option.

But this new “freedom” needs discipline and boundaries — or with it, comes some habits that may confuse your pets, kids, clients and in time, you.

“It turns out, there’s a dangerous line between arguing for remote work and arguing yourself out of a job. And since remote work makes employees less visible, they will have to find other ways to let higher-ups know they exist or risk being passed over for pay raises,” according to Rani Molla, from The Future of Remote Work According to 6 Experts, Vox.

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If you think working from home is good for your career development, you might want to rethink that one too.

If your job can be done remotely, why wouldn’t funders, employers and product providers outsource your work to a cheaper service provider offshore? This has already been happening for the past decade in the behind-the-scenes operational roles, and now other parts of the value chain may accelerate offshoring in the face of a slowing economy and rising inflation.

The reality is, there’s nuance to what you do, and you add maximum value when you’re in work mode, whether in the office interacting face-to-face with colleagues and clients, or in front of a virtual background, masking the mess in your lounge.

Three tips to maximise productivity, segregate work and leisure, and make your pet proud:

  1. Dress to impress: Sitting in your pyjamas all day isn’t good for your work output or your self-esteem.  Think of a policeman or policewomen in their perfectly pressed uniform, steel-capped boots and utility belt. They command respect. Look like you mean business and you’ll be amazed at the level of business you can do.
  2. Maximise social interaction: Some of the best discussions at work happen in the hallway or at the water cooler. These five-minute informal conversations with trusted colleagues often reveal more about the inner workings of your business or industry than a two-hour Zoom or Teams meeting. If you want to build valuable relationships with colleagues and clients, you need to get face-to-face with them. Listen with intent and look for subtle body language cues easily missed over email or video calls.
  3. Get your work/life balance back:  When you work from home, the lines between your work life and personal life blur. This means it’s harder to focus when you’re working, it’s harder to be present in your personal life, and with work seemingly never-ending, it’s easier to burn out. By separating work life from personal life, you’ll be more focused at work and your performance will skyrocket. At the same time, you’ll be more present in your home life and your family and friends will thank you for it.

So, here’s the opportunity for you — get an edge on everyone in your industry simply by returning to some of your pre-pandemic habits.

If you got your dog in the last couple of years (AKA you have a ‘COVID-19 dog’), it’s likely your dog is confused as to why every day isn’t a weekend. So start donning those funny formal clothes more often; get out to meet people — you can even take the dog with you to the coffee shop, and make time for your pet and your family where your mobile is on silent and not clamped to your ear, whilst you vainly try to throw the ball.

Get dressed up, get focused and let your dog know it’s time for work!

Jeff Zulman is the founder and managing director of TrailBlazer Finance, a specialist lender offering loans, valuations and M&A buy/sell advice to professionals including Mortgage Brokers, Financial Planners, Accountants and Real Estate Agents.

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