How to Be Alone

Updated on March 26th, 2020
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With many companies closing their offices and a large number of people working remotely, Redfin CEO, Glenn Kelman, shared his best advice about how to be productive while working from home.

Howdy Redfin Headquarters Folks,

To kick off our first full week of headquarters working mostly remotely, we’re publishing guidelines on how to do that. Some of this may overlap with departmental guidance you’ve already gotten. Much of it is based on what we’ve learned in consultation with companies that have run for years this way:

Avoid injury: please review the Mayo Clinic’s site on setting up your work environment to avoid injury; adjust your chair-height so that your knees are level with your hips, and your keyboard is at the same level or below your elbows. Your monitor should be an arm’s length away. If you have a home office, please use that rather than working for long periods from a couch or a dining-room table. If you’ve been sitting all day, stand up, move around and stretch!

Get in the zone: find a place that’s distraction-free; good headphones can help, but if you don’t have a room of your own and you want to come into the office, you still can, so long as too many people don’t end up congregating in one floor or room. Stock your home with the food and drinks you need to stay productive. Turn off the news while you’re working.

Show up on video: we expect you to participate in meetings with video turned on, as a way to show your engagement with others in the meeting. Please don’t multitask. If you don’t have a laptop with a camera, contact IT to rig you up.

Set up a monitor that you can use in addition to your laptop screen; preferably it should be to the side and in front of your laptop camera. This lets you use one screen to see the people in the meeting and another to see the work you’re discussing. If you don’t have a monitor and an office chair at home, please come into the office to get ‘em. If you’re in frequent meetings and you don’t have a high-quality headset for listening and for broadcasting your voice, IT will get you one.

Work regular hours: we expect folks to work regular hours, just so we can collaborate with one another. Each team already had a rough understanding of what those hours were when we all worked in an office, and can just keep the same schedule. Don’t snack on work all day and night. Set boundaries, and stay in the same routine to get in a work frame of mind each day. Tell any other creatures in your house when you’re at work (“have a good day sweetie!”) and when you’re done (“I’m baaack!”). Remember, we’re supporting agents and coordinators who need us available at predictable times so they can serve clients, sell houses and pay our wages.

Show your availability: please set your hours on your Google calendar, and share your calendar with your team. You can still pop out for a personal appointment; just tell your team when you’ll be back.

Respond to email and Slack: since we can’t walk into one another’s office, it’s more important to be responsive to email and Slack messages. During your work hours, please try to respond within an hour to email or Slack inquiries made directly to you, even if it’s just to say you got someone’s message. If you’re the one asking for support or information, you have to be clear about what you want, which person you’re asking, and when you need a response. If your team has a Slack channel, please check that channel at least once every day that you work.

Pick up the phone: when you’re in a long back-and-forth via email or Slack, pick up the phone or set up a video call. Even if we can’t meet face to face, we can work out misunderstandings voice to voice. It’s faster and friendlier.

Pump out the positive vibes: since working at home can be lonely, make an extra effort to be a positive force for your team, regardless of whether you’re a manager or a colleague. Catch people doing good work. Ask how someone’s day is going. This is the most important advice I have. Redfin has always been a great place to work, and now that place is in the heart.

Thank you, you absolute bad-asses,
 for being professionals and getting our jobs done, regardless of the circumstances. If you have other ideas, questions, or comments, please send ‘em my way! Later this week, we’ll talk about our policy around caring for young children during work hours, as some schools are now closing. More soon!

Best, Glenn

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Glenn Kelman

Chief Executive Officer

Glenn is the CEO of Redfin. Prior to joining Redfin, he was a co-founder of Plumtree Software, a Sequoia-backed, publicly-traded company that created the enterprise portal software market. Glenn was raised in Seattle and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley.

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