The Coronavirus epidemic has had a huge impact on the world economy and how businesses operate. Lockdowns and social distancing have required more companies to go to a remote model than ever before. For many of you, this change is welcomed, as it means more flexibility to support your families. However, it can also be a challenge to stay productive and accomplish your goals if you’re not used to working from home. The good news is that with a few ground rules and great tech, anyone can rock it while working remotely. Here’s how.
Working remotely means you’ll rely on technology in ways you most likely haven’t had to in the past. This may require some state-of-the-art technology, like a VPN, and some basic, like a good headset. Meetings will most likely be over a software program like Zoom or Teams, which means you’ll need a high-speed internet connection. Proper technology is critical for remote working success. Take the time to evaluate your tech and familiarize yourself with every system you’ll be using.
Working from home has great benefits, but also serious distractions. The best way to ensure you’re on task and productive is to set a schedule and stick to it. Set regular hours and block out times for email, task work, professional development, etc., like you would a meeting. Then stick to those blocks of time. You’ll find you’re able to accomplish your evergreen tasks and still have time for those fires that pop up throughout the day. And, most importantly, you’ll be more equipped to separate work and home life, a boundary which is important for your mental health.
There’s a big difference between face-to-face and remote communication. When communicating digitally, it can be difficult to interpret intent, tone, and warmth. That’s why you need to communicate more frequently, intentionally, and with more pep. Lack of communication can make it seem like you’re not working, so be sure to respond to every email or message in a timely manner. Take a deep breath before responding to what could be a sticky or stressful situation and make sure whatever you write is supportive and well thought out. Above all else, remember that you are a human communicating with other humans and use your head and your heart when working through issues and tasks together.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how distracting and disorienting working at home can be. If you don’t have a priority list of tasks for each day, you’ll be tempted to follow each rabbit trail and put out every fire that sparks up, making you less productive. I follow a 1-3-5 method each day based on deadlines. Try writing down the one task you must accomplish or make significant progress on that day, the three you want to move forward, and the five that are in your queue. Move them forward each day, adding new tasks and projects as they arise.
Perhaps the hardest part of working remotely is the lack of interaction with coworkers. That’s where socializing and collaborating come in. Say “good morning” and praise others for their work when you can. Tell jokes, pass on memes, join in for Happy Hour — whatever you need to do to build community. It may feel like you’re going overboard to add a greeting to every email or say “good morning” before any text messages, but working remotely means you need to up your communication game and infuse it with more positivity and support.
This season has put added pressure on us all, including those who have to work from home unexpectedly. Perhaps the best advice during this season is to figure out what works for you because that’s when you’ll be most productive and find peace despite the challenges.
Written by Kimberly Kulp