Remote working and how you can use Gamification with it

Image by Goumbik from Pixabay

author: @aestranger

Reading time: 12 minutes

Remote working and how you can use Gamification with it

Yes, that’s right, yet another article about how to work remotely in today’s climate of saving on energy, saving the environment and keeping ourselves safe from viruses and other pathogens.

But many of us who have been thrust into the requirement of having to work remotely or from home, may not be comfortable with the new status quo. This is in part because it was not a voluntary personal choice, but rather one that is a requirement of society currently. Some of us, however, did choose it voluntarily and I feel we should share some of the knowledge on how to go about working remotely.

Let’s have a look at the advantages of working remotely, and for full transparency and understanding, we will look at the disadvantages as well.

The advantages are:

  • An improved work-life balance
  • Better for the environment
  • Saving money on travel and food
  • Less commuting
  • And lowers the exposure to viruses and pathogens

The disadvantages are:

  • An increase in possible distractions when at home
  • Likely difficult to switch off at the end of the day
  • Not being able to interact face-to-face can be challenging
  • Isolation is difficult for some people

With both sides of the coin outlined, we’ll explore the various aspects that are important to keep in mind when working remotely. And with those, we’ll now and then add a bit of gamification flare to allow you to better grasp and enact what you need to do to maintain a healthy mental and physical lifestyle.

We will be looking at 4 points that each cover an important part of remote working:

  1. The Mindset
  2. Communication/Interaction
  3. Steps to work remotely effectively – a Gamified version
  4. Switching off

With that, let’s start with the most important feature, getting the right mindset for yourself.

The Mindset

To maintain a healthy mental state while you are working remotely, from home or elsewhere, you will need to change your mindset to fit your situation and focus on the goals and tasks you need to accomplish.

There are several methods for getting the right mindset and gamification works quite well with them, as they are all goal-oriented and objective-focused methodologies. In a previous article, we explored how gamifiying your life can aid you in creating processes around goals, rewards and progress. Though if you are expecting to remain working remotely in the long-term, then we will need to look at practices that tap more into intrinsic motivational levers, rather than short term satisfaction activities.

The intrinsic motivational levers that we will look at are the basic foundations for any gamified experience, and are those designated by Edward Deci, Daniel Pink and Abraham Maslow:

  • Purpose
  • Mastery
  • Autonomy
  • Esteem
  • Belonging
  • Safety & Needs

(as listed in Griffin, D., van der Meer, A. Press Start (2019) pg. 79)

Let’s break these down in how they work as parts of a (gamified) mindset for working from home.

Purpose

Purpose generally is a very broad motivational lever, it is that which gives meaning to activities, commonly to those that have long-lasting scopes. Purpose as a motivator for the day-to-day is purely focused on what your objectives are for the day or your project.

A recommendation is to decide what your objective(s) are the night before. And break these objective(s) down into smaller parts if possible. Gaming terminology could be used if you wish to place your mindset in a more ‘playful’ tone. Change the naming of your objectives to Quests, and break them down into smaller challenges as one would when playing an MMORPG for example.

The reason for breaking down your objective(s) into smaller quests and challenges is for several reasons. First, is to give you an overview of each part that you need to achieve along your way. Second, you will be able to then breakdown your day into parts that focus on each smaller quest point. And lastly, as you complete each ‘quest’ you will feel that bit more fulfilled and motivated to continue.

If you wish to delve even deeper with Purpose and you have very long term goals, then you may want to look into using the mechanics of storytelling and craft a narrative for you to take part in as you move towards you epic quest finale.

Mastery

As a motivational lever, Mastery is directly connected with Purpose. In this format, rather than the usual concept of checking skill progression towards a specific goal, it is more about being aware that you have what you need to achieve the objectives you set for yourself.

In a remote working situation, you will need to audit your skills and abilities in reference to the tasks set before you. Do you have the required mastery to achieve them? Do you need to teach yourself the required skills? Do you require more time with the skills you have? If you are unable to achieve what you need with what you currently have in your ‘toolbox’ then you will need to start connecting (remotely) with others to collaborate to achieve the goal. This then neatly connects with the Belonging motivator.

Autonomy

The ability and freedom to make your own choices of how you go about achieving your objectives is what Autonomy essentially is. It is not a synonym for being alone and doing everything yourself.

In this case, it is more about that you acknowledge the freedoms that you have when working remotely. No one is hovering over your shoulder, and other than emails and telecommunication, there isn’t anyone requesting your attention.

You must recognise that you have full authority and responsibility for any choice you make and that you, therefore, take steps to ensure you remain focused on the objective(s) you have set for yourself. It is not a free-card to do whatever you want a loose sight of the obligations you have.

 

Esteem

One of the greatest issues when working remotely is that motivation drops quite significantly because you are not receiving any direct feedback and acknowledgement of what you have done.

All of us crave recognition of some kind, to help with our confidence and how we exhibit ourselves to the rest of the world. Working remotely you will need to practice two sides of the same coin of Esteem.

On one side you will need to explore self-reflection and self-praise. This may sound a little fluffy to some people, but it is an important aspect of sometimes being alone. You will need to learn to love yourself and celebrate your wins. It may feel strange to start with, but mentally and emotionally you will feel more positive and better about yourself in general.

The other side of the coin is more in line with Belonging. If you are part of a company and/or team then just because you are working remotely and are at times isolated, this does not mean that you are not appreciated by your colleagues and peers. To satiate your ego and curiosity, check-in regularly with managers and colleagues to assess how your work has affected them, and how overall progress towards an objective is going.

One aspect to bear in mind with the motivational level of Esteem is that a fair amount of it is based on perception, of how you view yourself and how others view you. So even if you are working from home, still dress to impress. As odd as it sounds, dressing for work has a strong influence on your mindset and motivations for doing the work to accomplish the goals you have set out.

 

Belonging

The greatest difficulty that many of us face when working remotely is a lack of connection. There may be some of you who at this point say that it’s great if you’re an introvert, no annoying distractions from other people. Unfortunately, this viewpoint is wrong. As a human, we crave connection with others, and regardless of your social disposition, be it introvert, extrovert or ambivert, you will need to communicate with others.

Interacting with others is important for your mental health and is essential for maintaining a working relationship with your colleagues and ensuring that you all know where you are within a project. Communicating regularly with your manager, co-workers and peers is therefore necessary.

It is equally important to also maintain social relationships outside of work. Working remotely can also lead to a disconnect from family, friends and/or significant others. So take care to keep these connections in a healthy state.

Safety

The final motivational lever that we concern ourselves with in gamification is that of Safety & Needs. Traditionally this lever is focused on value versus risk, such as is the value of an objective worth the risk to try and double its value? But within the realm of working remotely, we want it to be focused more on the value and risk of your time, productivity and general well-being, such as your physical and mental health. It is the fine balancing act of for example what is the value that you are achieving or producing in the time that you have given yourself.

Thus, when you are deciding your objective(s) for the day, and how you will achieve the various quests that you create for them, be sure to incorporate regular breaks. And, which is very important, be sure to have a very clear start and end times for your activities or ‘adventure’ to use some game nomenclature. If something takes longer than intended then do spend more time, try not to leave ‘quests’ unfinished, but equally do not have a never-ending deadline, as this can become a path to burning yourself out.

Even when working from home, you still need to go ‘home’ at some point and relax, so that you can be rested and ready for the following day.

 

Communication

Communication is such an important facet of life that I felt it required its own subsection. As I mentioned in the previous section a few times, communication is key, even when working remotely. So be sure to have a high quality and easy to use communication technology of some kind, some examples are Zoom, Discord, Skype, Slack, etc. if you were unsure.

You will need to take it upon yourself to actively ensure that you keep all lines of communication open between you and your peers, colleagues, employees and bosses. And as mentioned before as well, this even extends to non-work related relationships. Be sure to maintain numerous relationships in different circles of interest, as this will give you variation and allow you to avoid isolation and loneliness during a majority of your time. Isolation, after all, is the most common reason for lowering productivity and motivation in individuals when they are working remotely.

When you are establishing your lines of communication, be sure to check-in with your team and/or managers to determine their expectations, levels of, and amount of communication required between all of you. This helps you to determine how self-sufficient you can be and how often regular updates are needed by others. It is important to keep colleagues and stakeholders updated regularly when important changes occur, therefore have agreed upon daily or weekly updates.

Some suggestions for maintaining communications can be that you start the day with a 10-minute call with managers, teams and/or colleagues. As well as maintaining at least one direct connection with an essential or close co-worker, try to have a 10-15 minute video chat with them every day.

Steps to take when working remotely – a Gamified version

As we’ve dealt with the main areas of remote working, your mindset and the importance of communication, I’d like to suggest a step-by-step outline of how you could set up your day, with some gamification flare added to it:

  1. Start your Adventure Quest
    • Start your day as normal – Have a clear morning routine, this can or should include things like having a shower, going to the gym, having a coffee or tea and breakfast.
  2. Your Action or Adventure Area
    • Have a dedicated area for your work hours. This can be a separate room from your ‘home’ or just a clean space.
    • Keep this space clear of clutter, agree with others you live with that this space is where “work” hours occur.
    • And if you need it, have music in the space, or silence or maybe the TV on in the background, whatever helps you to focus on your work.
  3. Build your Quests & Challenges
    • This can either be done the day of or the recommended night before.
    • For this you list all the objective(s) that you need and want to achieve during your day, breaking them down into smaller manageable Quests.
  4. Divide & Conquer
    • Expanding on the previous step, you divide your work and day into chunks.
    • You will know best how to divide your day and do what you can and which times are best for you.
    • If it helps you to visualise this process, then imagine this step similar to the creation of adventure areas in an RPG, places where you go to complete a specific task.
    • Additionally, you can organise this in a similar vein to a sprint session if that is easier.
  5. Rest & Recovery
    • Remember to include regular breaks for lunch and coffee/tea/water/juice.
  6. Quest Completed!
    • Set a hard start and end for your day.
    • Depending on your stamina it could be after a 6, 7, 8 or 9 hour working day, but have it end! Do not continue working until you pass out
    • Have some downtime, it’s for your own well-being.

If you can, try to keep yourself offline as much as possible during your main working chunks. It’s not only social media that sucks away time, but emails and other online activities can become time sinks if you’re not careful.

 

Switching off

Finally, one of the most important things about working remotely and from home is to accept the fact that you need to switch off at some point. People who work from home for some reason believe that now that they are distraction-free they can keep working even longer hours and get more done. This is a great work ethic, don’t get me wrong, but at some point, you need to let your mind rest. Otherwise, you will become ever more exhausted, get headaches and likely end up burning yourself out.

Good ways of ending your day are that once you have hit your hard end for the day, you quickly review what you’ve done during the day. This gives you an overview of what you may need to do tomorrow and allows you to see the victories you’ve gained during the day – remember the self-appreciation part here.

Once you’ve done that, determine what needs to be done tomorrow, build your quest list out of the spill over from the day and the new challenges for tomorrow.

Check your calendar to make sure there aren’t any surprise awaiting you that you had forgotten about or hadn’t anticipated.

And when you’ve done all of that – close down every single work-related program, application and piece of equipment to fully end your working day. And then go do whatever you do to unwind and enjoy your evening, be it gaming, watching a film or reading a good book.

 

Final Thoughts

As so many of these things are; they are simply suggestions for likely method for you to consider and use. It is up to you to figure out your own working style, and what works best for you. Processes and methodologies can be recommended to you, but you know yourself the best.

I would suggest that you try not to overanalyse or overthink everything when you are working from home or remotely. Email and written chat programs do not allow for fine nuance in their communications, so don’t go looking for it. Most likely neither you nor the person you are communicating with is trying to get across a nuanced statement. It simply is the transfer of knowledge.

Remember to take care of yourself and to maintain discipline. It becomes too easy to either keep working past normal hours or equally worse to start later than you normally would and become lazy.

And finally, if you are struggling with working remotely, then DO NOT keep quiet about it. Speak to your significant other, friends, family, co-workers, etc. There are benefits for you to suffer and struggle in silence and it certainly won’t benefit those that care about you or depend on you. So remember to always communicate, even when it difficult to.

I hope that this piece has given you some food for thought and helped improve your own methods or at least offered a different viewpoint to consider.

Please do check out the other posts on æStranger.com, and please do leave a comment or contact us if you have some ideas of your own that you wish to discuss or if you would like to see other topics discussed.

Please do Share if you found it helpful and know of someone who would it find it helpful as well. And if you are feeling generous then you can support us through PayPal or on our Ko-fi page.

Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on google
Google+
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

en_GBEnglish
nl_NLDutch en_GBEnglish