The COVID-19 pandemic is upon us. Unprecedented measures are being taken not only in America, but also around the globe. Many organizations are following CDC guidelines of limiting interactions to help curb the spread of the virus and requiring workers to work remotely. Fortunately, remote work has been on the rise and I for one have been fortunate to be a primarily remote worker for nearly a decade. However, for some, this is brand new and you may not be sure how to get started. Below, are some tips.
Tips for Workers
- Create a dedicated workspace. Make sure you prepare yourself for success, starting with your workspace. While you may not have the time to source yourself a desk, ergonomic chair, wireless printer, a backdrop for video calls, etc. There are still some easy preparations you can make. Whether it is your kitchen table, a corner of your breakfast bar, or some other place, it is vital to have a dedicated space where you can set up your computer – close to an electrical outlet and that has a flat surface.
- Set a routine. Know what time you need to start work and what you would like to do before then. Maybe you want to go for a walk, drink some coffee, etc. Schedule a lunch break. Make sure you know what time you plan to end work so you can plan your day.
- Limit Distractions. Keep the TV off; don’t be tempted to spend an hour playing Candy Crush or Fortnite. Remember that you are responsible for getting your work done.
- Turn work off at the end of the day. This is very hard for remote workers. Since you live and work in the same area, it’s easy to find yourself checking your emails and doing a task here and there after work has ended for the day. While this is necessary and acceptable from time to time, you need to remember you have a life outside of work (even if you are quarantined to your own house).
Tips for Managers
- Make a point to connect with each one of your team members every day. Most days, I prefer to call them. However, if I know they’re having a very busy day, I text them. I care about their work, but the point of this interaction is personal. I want to find out how they are, how their kids are, and if I can help them with anything or if they’re waiting on me for something.
- Set expectations. Organization vary greatly on the expectations of their remote workers. Some expect their remote workers to work the same hours they would in the office – 9 to 5, or whatever that may be. Others don’t care what hours they work, as long as the work gets done. Some don’t really care what hours you work but expect you to attend pertinent meetings. Make sure your team members know exactly what you expect them to do.
- Video calls. It’s always great to put a face to the name. I also find video calls to be more personal. I felt like I connected better with my global colleagues when I saw them via video (it was also helpful to figure out who was going to be meeting me at the airport for my next business trip). It also makes people pay attention. I’m sure you’ve been on many conference calls and been distracted – doodling, reading emails, attending to other work, or maybe even doing dishes. Video calls make people stay engaged in the meeting since everyone can see what they are actually doing.
- Over-communicate. It’s important to communicate with your team members. Even if you feel like you’re over-communicating, that is much more appreciated than under communicating.
- Be there. Whether your team members need new tools, software, or simply someone to talk to, be there for your team.
We solicited some advice from people who have been working remotely for many years. Here’s what they said:
“Get dressed every morning. Try to keep a routine. Take breaks.” – Danielle Ernest @DeeMagicGurl - Danielle is the social media manager for Amgen.
“Set good habits! The key for me to staying consistently productive (and healthy and sane) while working from home is setting and maintaining habits that support my goals. I know personally in order to follow through with habits they need to be scheduled (therefore not ‘if I feel like it’), with a timer on my phone going off as an auditory cue to move me into action. This adds organization to my day and the best part is, a sense of accomplishment at the end of it when I see how much I got done!” – Christine Whitmarsh, Host of ‘Your Daily Writing Habit’ – a daily podcast that helps authors write and FINISH writing their books.
“As far as remote work, I would actually say there’s no hard and fast rule. What helped me be productive at home when I was single is totally different than after I was married and had a baby. The best thing I can offer is to gather advice and keep experimenting until you find your groove. Be forgiving of yourself and don’t expect perfection - just do the best you can.” – Diana Mitchell, Marketing Consultant at Simplified Social.