Many affected by COVID-19 have been forced to work from home. But not everyone knows how to do it effectively.
How can you stay productive, creative, inspired, and live up to all of the expectations that you’ve set for yourself within this new lifestyle?
Here are some ideas how to prepare your space, manage teams, managers, clients, communication tools, and how to adopt remote work progressively.
1. Choose your 'office' space
Choose a part of your house where you have everything you need to work. Try to make it a well-lit place, if possible with natural light and soft ambient light to avoid reflections on the screen and keep order and cleanliness. Prepare yourself a cup of coffee or tea and get ready to work!
2. Set a schedule and know when to log off
Define the hours you will work and set up your routine. Be strict, or you will work too hard or too little.
Perform the same tasks as if you had to travel to a workplace. Get up, have breakfast, shower, comb your hair, brush your teeth, and dress as if you were going to go to the office. It is highly recommended that you do not work in pajamas!
Knowing when it’s time to log off can be one of the most challenging aspects for remote work beginners, as the world is becoming increasingly connected. Though you may receive emails and chat notifications at any hour (especially if you’re working in a different time zone than your coworkers), it’s important to develop a habit of setting a time when you officially “log off” for the night.
The best part of working remotely is having the flexibility to work when you are most productive, so be careful about setting the standard that you are available 24/7.
Before you finish your day, during the last 5 minutes wrap up tasks, check your calendar for the next day, tidy up your desk, and turn off your computer/laptop.
3. Take some breaks
Disconnect ten minutes every two hours. Stop what you are doing, change the environment and do another activity during that time. Do not use it for household chores and avoid distractions like watching the TV or eating unhealthy snacks! Carrots and almonds are your allies :)
Mark a time in the middle of the day when you can walk. Even if it's indoors, in the living room or in the hallway. Take a break for about 30 minutes.
Given the circumstances, you can only go outside for authorized matters (taking out the trash or buying food), so plan those little walks so that you can get some air during the week if you are not a person at risk.
4. Over-communicate with your team
The key to being successful in any professional role is communication, but when it comes to remote work, it is an even more important asset. Since you’re no longer a few desks down from your coworkers or your manager, it’s your job to schedule 1:1 check-in meetings with them on a weekly basis to connect on your goals, upcoming projects and daily tasks.
Make sure to advocate for yourself and clearly state the progress you’ve made in the past week, which goals you’ve surpassed and which projects you’ve led. When you’re not in the office, it can be difficult for your manager to keep your work top-of-mind, so don’t be afraid to bring important milestones up on your own.
5. Project management and communication tools
Some techniques about working remotely effectively include platforms to manage tasks and projects, weekly planning, communicating effectively, etc. We might not find all of them useful for our day-to-day work, but this is a compilation of platforms other companies use:
- Basecamp: a real-time communication tool that helps teams stay on the same page; it's less for traditional project management tasks (e.g., resource planning and long-term scheduling).
- Dropbox/Google Drive: to archive and share documents.
- Monday.com: keep track of everything with it: client projects, marketing calendar, employee time off, expenses, payments & invoicing, company revenue.
Conferences & Messaging:
- Zoom: virtual meeting rooms with capacity for up to 100 people.
- Whereby: easy video meetings with no login or downloads. Video conferencing with screen sharing, recording and much more.
- Hangouts/Google Meet: message contacts, start free video or voice calls, and hop on a conversation with one person or a group.
- Skype: free online calls, messaging, affordable international calling to mobiles or landlines and Skype for Business for effective collaboration.
- Slack: Instant messaging channel that allows sharing by clients, projects.
- Trello : Super visual tool in kanban format that allows us to see how we are progressing. It allows you to keep track of everything, from the big picture to the minute details.
- Harvest: Easy to track time and expenses, so you get access to critical data without driving yourself (or your team) crazy.
- Forecast.App automate project management processes, forecast capacity needs, and predict delivery dates.
- Doodle: Allows you to agree on a date in an agile way and with maximum usability.
- Calendly: Allows a client to write down their appointment based on the availability of your calendar.
- WeTransfer: to send heavy files (photos, videos, presentations).
- Canva: to design catalogs or montages, it includes good photos with rights to use.
- Loomio: to make decisions without meeting.
- Kahoot: to gamify talks or conferences.
- HelloSign: Create legally binding electronic signatures on any device
6. Do physical exercise and take time for self-care
When sitting for so long, it is advisable to take care of your body and mind. Do some exercises to avoid muscle decrease and its discomfort, especially in the lumbar and cervical areas and practice mindfulness. Standing desks and treadmill desks have become even more available and a great way to keep your body moving when working from home!
7. Don’t forget to be virtually social
We all agree that socializing with coworkers helps strengthen the quality of workplace relationships. Strong relationships enable the team to work better together.
Coworkers who communicate well about non-work matters are more likely to collaborate on work effectively. Coworkers will also feel free and open in their work conversations. Organize virtual sessions such as coffees with your coworkers, yoga classes, meditation, after-work gatherings, etc.
Talk about your concerns and how you are feeling. You can share highlights of the week - professional or personal (way to get to know each other more in person) - empathy with employees, avoid anxiety, help with isolation, need help from coworkers, whatever to brighten up your lonely days!
Now that you’re working remotely, life will look a little bit different (and a little more awesome). However, if you rely on these tips listed above, the transition from to the freedom of a flexible work style will be smooth and successful.