How To Make the Best Out of Remote Working
by Natalie Glenn on March 20, 2020
Our world is more technologically advanced than ever, and many people have been taking advantage of this and working remotely or “teleworking” for a while. However, some of us are used to it (full-time or now-and-then) and some of us are working remotely for the first time because of COVID-19. Since we’re all in this together, I thought it might be helpful to offer a few suggestions to help you ease into your new working style or how to make your existing working style work even better. Remote working provides a lot of freedom but requires focus, so it’s important to have a plan for getting the most out of your time at home.
Create Your Workspace
One of the things that can significantly help or hinder your productivity while at home is your workspace. You need to create a place, designated for working, that has a different purpose than most spaces in your home. Separate your workspace from your relaxation space. Move from the couch or bed to a real chair and a set up for your laptop, monitor or whatever your workspace requires. Try out different spaces — take advantage of an extra room, convert part of your living room into an office, or simply create a makeshift desk. You can even move things outside if the weather is nice enough. Find a place that will allow you to be both productive and comfortable. Turn on some music that gets you in the right headspace or listen to white noises. Grab things from the office if you need to (and if you can) so that you have even more of an office/work-specific area.
Overcommunicate and update
If you’ve never worked from home before, it can feel lonely and weird sometimes. You may not know exactly what you’re working on or maybe you have questions, which is why it’s important to overcommunicate and consistently deliver updates. Be proactive and let your manager know what you have on your schedule, what you’ve finished and if you have any questions or concerns. Schedule time to catch up and review priorities on a regular basis. This is a great way to stay connected when you’re no longer in the office together and to socialize during your social distancing.
You also need to figure out what kind of communication works for yourself and everyone else on your team. Experiment and decide how you prefer communicating and try to find out what platforms the people you work with prefer using. Do they prefer email? Text? Slack? A phone call? There are many ways to communicate remotely, but we each have our preferences, and they can make a difference in productivity and understanding.
For meetings or a quick catch up or whatever else, find a video conferencing service. Video conferencing allows you to keep your meetings and access the office environment from your at-home workspace. Communicate with your teammates, communicate with your managers, and check in on one another in case one of you may be facing difficulties. Working from home can be quite a transition, but it’s absolutely possible, and your coworkers are in the same situation. If you are facing challenges, bring them up. If you’re worried about how you’re going to get work done with the kids home from school, speak to your manager to look at your options and work out a solution.
Add Some Structure
Many people believe that working from home can cause workers to simply binge-watch Netflix or work 24/7. To create a healthy schedule that works for you, plan it. Decide when your working hours are. Is there a certain time of day that you work best? Include this in your planning! Have definitive on and off hours so that you’re not working all day and you don’t end up answering emails at all hours of the night. Schedule breaks in your workday and allow yourself to get up and leave your workspace. This can help you break up your day and add structure so things don’t start to feel monotonous.
Dress for work, even if you’re not really dressing for work. You could be changing from PJs to sweatpants — as long as you’re “getting ready” for your day, you’re doing it right. Create a barrier between work and other things. Notify your roommates or family members that you’re working from home and need to focus during specific hours. Limit distractions and assign time to do non-work tasks during breaks or off-hours. You will be without office distractions, but being in a home environment can provide its own distractions.
Leaving the office and working entirely from home is a transition — it takes time. Don’t be surprised if it takes a day or two to find your best workspace or establish a good meeting schedule with your coworkers. It will happen. Communicate when you need something, even if that’s just a little bit of social interaction. Also, take advantage of it! Enjoy the escape from the commute and the cubicle. Try out new or unfamiliar technology, and figure out what works for you. Don’t forget to exercise, socialize (from a distance) and experiment to find the right routine for yourself. Happy teleworking!