Know Thyself: The UKOLN Remote Worker Workshop

Yesterday we had our second UKOLN remote worker workshop. This was an all-day workshop run by an external trainer for our internal remote workers only.

What can I say? I think we all had a fab day (despite feeling a bit ropey after all going out for a meal and a few drinks the night before!) The day, for me, was actually quite emotional. There was a lot of introspection and trying to understand yourself. I’m not a particularly huggy-feely person but I do believe some time spent trying to understand yourself will end up being be time well invested. As the ancient Greek aphorism states “know thyself”.

Sylvia Vacher from Objectives training does a great job of getting to the root of a problem and making sure you take a solutions based approach, so you are left with very practical advice that you can go away and apply.

UKOLN Remote Workers

UKOLN Remote Workers

The main themes for the day were time management and motivation. These were the two problem areas we’d identified as being the most significant to us as remote workers. We also looked at creativity quite a bit because much of our work at UKOLN involves innovation and ideas.

Our spec outline included:

Time management
How can we use our time more effectively?
How can we change ingrained patterns of behaviour?
How can we stop ourselves procrastinating?
What can be done to avoid distractions -both online and off?
How can we improve our concentration (given that when at home many stimulus (like people to chat to) are not there)?
What different time management systems apply for different personalities?
Motivation
What motivates us as individuals?
How can we encourage motivation when, at times, we are not getting this from the work we are carrying out?
How can we set our own goals when our work targets are sometimes unclear?
How can we stimulate creative thinking when alone?
Communication
How can we increase interaction with colleagues (be they UKOLN or external)?
How can we maintain momentum in this communication?

I think some of the key things that I took away from the day include:

The Importance of Feedback

The isolation of remote working means that you need feedback much more than an on-site worker. If you aren’t getting this feedback you need to ask for it. This feedback could take the form of peer support, a coach, mentor or any other support. Some of the other remote workers (who live near to Manchester) have agreed to meet up once a month for a coffee, a chat and a ‘bit of support’.

Taking a Risk is good.

Broadening your horizon can only be a good thing. As a working Mum I tend to want to keep things safe and stay at home as much as possible, yet I crave the stimulus of going to events and meeting people. Although getting out can be a pain it’s an essential part of making you a rounded person and a key factor in creativity. I need to do more of it.

Be positive

I’m just not, but it’s the only way to be. You need to fill your life with the things you want to do and then enjoy them.

Our trainer Sylvia Vacher

Our trainer Sylvia Vacher

A few of my favourite motivators were:

  • Know what makes you tick and try to get more of it
  • Think of the positives – deal with the negatives in a solution based way
  • Keep your stimulators (things/books etc. that get you thinking) in a folder and get them out when you’re stuck

As for time keeping I liked:

  • If in doubt throw it out – try having a “Phucket bucket” – I hope I won’t get in trouble for this one, it just really sticks!
  • Chunk stuff up
  • Turn everything off (technology wise), now and then
  • You don’t have to respond straight away to everything
  • Don’t let someone take all your pie (i.e. time) if you don’t want them to
  • Your best working time is between 10 – 12 so do something constructive then (i.e. don’t answer emails in it)

A few interesting resources from the day that I intend to follow up are:

All of this was great but probably the most exciting thing about the day was that we are really gelling as a team. Although we all work on different areas we have a lot of common ground. If we can support each other then we are going to be more motivated and ultimately work more effectively. It’s a win win situation….now I really am starting to sound like an American pop-psychologist!!
😉

2 thoughts on “Know Thyself: The UKOLN Remote Worker Workshop

  1. Maybe I’m misinterpreting what you wrote, but I’m curious where the idea that there is a universal “best working time” came from.

    10am-noon certainly isn’t mine, at least as far as writing/creating stuff goes; I can read/view/listen to stuff, but I rarely get much written before noon, and I’d probably estimate that I’m most productive between about 4pm and 8pm.

    I completely agree about the doing stuff you enjoy doing though. I need to do something about that🙂

  2. Hi Pete,

    I’m sure the best working time varies from person to person but there is scientific evidence that your body does certain things better at different times of the day. The theory is that we concentrate better at 10 -12 and then again at about 4pm onwards (which agrees with what you say). Just after lunch is the worst time of day to do anything creative or taxing.

    The horizon programme The Secret Life of Your Body Clock is worth having a look at.

    It points out that you are much more likely to have a car crash just after lunch because you just aren’t concentrating. In fact you should really be having a nap….which ties in with what Paul Boag says in his guest blog post.

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