Here we are, living our reality as if we are part of the cast in an unimaginable sci-fi flick. And who knows how long this will last. The important thing is for everyone to do his or her part to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and working from home is the new normal for the next several weeks. Here are 10 tips to get you started.
Working from home has always been Red Javelin’s normal. We have successfully built a business working from home for 19 years, but at first, it did take some adjustment to get it right. For some of our associates, it was a blessing, but others did not adjust well and ended up going back to a traditional work style.
"Feeling isolated is the number one challenge with remote work."
This is what we learned about what works and what doesn't work. Here are ten tips to get remote work off to a good start.
- Set-up a dedicated workspace. Find a dedicated place in your home that you can associate with work – that you can go to and more importantly leave at the end of the day. This means try not working on the couch or in bed if possible. Make sure you have good lighting; it makes all the difference in the world.
- Set boundaries. Chances are there will be others around, such as roommates, spouse, and children. Set expectations about interruptions. Just because you are physically home does not mean you are “home.” At Red Javelin, we require working parents to have some form of daycare. This may not be possible during these extenuating circumstances but try to find a babysitter or tradeoff with your spouse for at least part of the day.
- Structure your day. Get dressed every morning. It is easy to roll out of bed and work in your pajamas. However, chances are you will be more productive if you keep to a routine- get up, shower, and get dressed. Have a start time and a stop time. It delineates work from home and helps keep you on track. Find your productive times and get things done. For me, I am most productive in the early mornings but by 3:00PM, I need to check out for a bit. I rarely schedule any meetings for late afternoon.
- Find a friend. Find someone that you can just call and vent. There will be times as everyone adjusts to the new normal that you will need a sympathetic ear. This is important to avoid feeling isolated.
- Over communicate. Think about how you communicate with other members of your team, to clients, or to anyone else associated with business. Instead of sending off that tenth email, pick up the phone or schedule a video. Email and online chat is not a substitute for live human interaction.
- Have formal and informal video meetings. If you manage a team, have a fifteen-minute video check-in twice a day. Every morning at 8:45, take fifteen minutes to review the day’s objectives, projects, and impending deadlines. This level sets the team and makes sure everyone is on the same page. Have a second check-in at the end of the day to talk about any challenges that have come up or to have a water cooler chat and talk about the day. Keep the second “meeting” informal. I personally check in with people individually every other day, just to say hello, instead of having a second video conference.
- Take a walk or a run. At lunchtime or break time, get outside and take a walk or go for a run. Walk your dog. I meet up with other remote workers every afternoon and we walk our dogs. Chances are you won’t be as active as you normally would be because you won’t be commuting, walking from the bus or subway, or even the parking lot. Go outside, take a walk, and get some fresh air.
- Avoid social media at all costs, it will suck you in. It is so easy to waste hours on social media. Save that for after work.
- Call someone. You are working from home, not the moon. Working from home can be isolating. If you are feeling lonely, call someone, even if it isn’t business-related. We all need human interaction.
- Exercise every day. Chances are your gym is closed. Online classes and inexpensive apps can substitute for gym time. You don’t need a Peloton to use the $12.99/month Peloton app which has thousands of classes including yoga, lifting, running, as well as boot camp classes. Beach Body on Demand offers two weeks free and has many proven programs for all fitness levels. It’s $39 for three months. Check them out!
We have found that success at remote working is primarily dependent on two things. The first is establishing a regular routine. It is easy to be distracted by laundry, chores, or even a beautiful day. Find a routine that works for you and stick to it.
The second is mitigating the risk of feeling isolated. Feeling isolated is the number one challenge with remote work. Working in an office is noisy and there is activity going on around you. Working remote doesn’t offer that. For some, that quietness suits them but for others it is a struggle.
Everyone needs to feel like they belong to a community, but it is up to you to create that community.
If you are struggling with remote work, shoot me an email - firstname.lastname@example.org and include your phone number. We can help answer any questions or guide you through a rough patch.