Bandzoogle has been fully remote for almost 18 years. In fact, we have never had a central office and our staff has always worked from the comfort of their own home. Artists make excellent remote workers: we have experience with self-discipline when we practice our instruments, we carve out time for planning, collaborations and business, and we make time for our events or networking.
In some way, as musicians, we’ve been training for remote work our whole lives. Here are some things I do that I’ve learned optimize my productivity, and happiness, as a remote worker.
Set yourself up for success
Before you even think about work, take a good look at yourself. If you are tired, you have poor nutrition, or you have mental blockers - that will affect your output. Schedule your own physical and mental health in your day just as you would your work.
Drummers require a certain amount of physical fitness to do their job; make it a requirement for yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough protein; whether that’s plant-based or not. Studies show that this helps with brain fog.
Make sure to clock out
When you work from home, it can feel like you never really leave the office. This means your pastimes and interests outside of work are even more important.
Commit to unplugging from 6-8 pm, or some other time that works for you. Even if your interests are completely unrelated to what you do for work, you’ll find they have a very positive effect on how you work and what you have to contribute. When we have staff that are clocking in off hours I am likely to “send them home.”
You may also find that if your co-workers (or bosses!) are new to remote work you need to set expectations now; sending emails off work hours does not mean replies off work hours.
Make an effort to do the same things for the same amount of time every day, in the beginning. You may find after some time that allocating more time to a specific task, or changing how you start your day, is more effective.
In the beginning, worry more about establishing a good work ethic using your routine. Get used to your new way of life before you experiment. It’s easy to say “I didn’t get to this task because I went deep on something else” - this will turn into excuses and a growing list of to-dos pretty quickly. Use your allocated time for the tasks you set out to work on.
It’s pretty easy to turn into a troll when you’re sitting behind the shield of your screen, armed with your sharp keyboard. Remote work provides you with the opportunity to be less reactive and more considerate. Be really mindful about how you feel when you’re communicating with others and the impact of your written words. Unlike working face to face, you can take a minute to consider your words and tone.
At Bandzoogle, we’re a very passionate group and we have a fairly flat organizational chart. This combination could be a disaster if we didn’t take this point very seriously. Part of our strength is our ability to always be kind and respectful even when we disagree about the direction of a shiny new member feature or music resources we’re planning. I think these disagreements result in a stronger product, if you can always strive to be kind.
Filter out the noise
Would you answer your phone during a show? Treat your work with just as much respect as you would your audience. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you can get visitors (today I hope that means calls or DMs) interrupting you at all hours and putting you off track.
Put your phone away and check it at specific times. Designate time for answering emails, and checking socials, too! This shouldn’t be as soon as they come in.
Physically distant, socially close
On the flip side, technology allows us to communicate so easily. There are so many incredible tools that make working remotely even better than working in person.
Bandzoogle has always been fully remote because that’s the smartest way to run our business. Your Bandzoogle website, along with password protected pages and the Events calendar would make a great tool for organizing and delivering home studio work. You can even make it available to your collaborators using our music or file list feature. Use the tools you have available to share your ideas in a way that helps everyone else work.
Make sure to channel new ideas in a way that is productive (not immediately and to everyone). Everyone around you is organizing their own days in a way that makes them feel productive and happy, so be careful not to interrupt their workflow, too! Set times to share, and document well when that happens.
Being a remote worker can open up new opportunities. Personally, it has allowed me to flourish professionally, using new technologies and applying them to my unique work needs at Bandzoogle.
Eighteen years ago, it was not very common to have a young woman running a tech company. Despite the #metoo movement and general wokeness we’re experiencing today, only 6.4% of Fortune 500 companies are led by women. I can attribute a lot of my professional success to the fact that I was able to remove the physical presence from careful consideration. In a big way, this forced colleagues, partners, and superiors to focus on my service, work and skills over my voice, smaller stature, or age.
As an artist, you won’t be subject to as much typecasting by collaborators or promoters. Remote work allows you, in a big way, to take a lot of the physical prejudice out of the equation.
Working remotely will challenge you in many ways, and present so many opportunities. It can support a better work life balance, foster an unbiased workplace culture, and challenge you to evaluate how you treat yourself and the impact of that on your work.
Everything in between matters just as much as the work you produce, and in my experience, the more you focus on that, the more success you’ll find. So turn up your music, teem your space with things you love, and fill your time with things that feel meaningful. Everything else will fall into place.
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