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Tips & Tricks for Working Remotely

Talent Article

These tips were adapted from many great resources including FisherPhillips.com, ibmadison.com, Forbes.com and the Perk.

During this fast-evolving and changing time, many of us find ourselves working remotely.  How can we make the best out of the situation and ensure we are still working effectively and efficiently while away from our normal office space?  Consider these working remotely tips and tricks!

Know the Expectations of Your Work

  • Sure, you know your job -- but has anything changed now that you are working remotely?  Talk with your manager to make sure you know your day-to-day expectations so you can continue to deliver high-quality work.  Double check your technology needs to make sure you have everything you need to get your job done effectively.

Know Your Work-Style

  • It goes without saying that working from home is different than working in the office. Your work location provides more structure and, perhaps, a quieter environment.  While working from home provides more freedom over how you work, make sure you align how you work from home with your work-style. For instance, think about how and when you are most productive.  Is it early in the morning or later in the day?  Do you need a completely quiet area or do you need background noise?  Take a moment to think through your work-style and what you need to most effectively do your job.

Create Your Workspace

  • Once you know your work-style, create your workspace to reflect this style.  It is not necessary that you have a “home-office” or that you spend a lot of money creating the perfect space.  It can be as simple as moving furniture around or repurposing a current space.  For example, will your kitchen table work for you or will that provide distractions?  Is it important to you that you have a window nearby?  What do you need to store documents?  Does your job require a good Wi-Fi connection?  All of these questions will help you create a workspace that allows for concentration and focus.

  • If you will be doing audio or video calls, choose a location where there will not be a lot of background noise.  Equally important, think about what can be seen in the background.  For instance, is there a messy kitchen or pile of laundry behind you.  You will want your background to be tidy and professional.

  • Making your remote workspace feel like your own personal space is helpful if you think you will be working remotely for an extended period of time. You can also consider making your workspace semi-permanent so you can return to it each day and limit the amount of set-up time.  

Get into the Right Mindset

  • To help get yourself in a “work” mindset, it is important that you make a mental shift to work to focus your productivity. While it might be tempting to keep your pajamas on, open your laptop and start work, getting yourself mentally and physically prepared for the day is a great step.

  • One easy way to do this is to dress like you are at work.  This doesn’t mean you need to sit at your kitchen table in your best “work clothes”. Even if you can dress like work just a little, it will help you focus and feel more productive.  If you are doing video calls with customers and colleagues, you will want to be sure you are conveying the right professional impression.

  • Lastly, try to start and end each workday at your usual time.  It can be tempting to start earlier or work later since you no longer have to commute, but keeping a regular work schedule will make it feel more like your typical work day.

Schedules and Routines Keep You Focused and Motivated

  • While working remotely, you will be less likely to have meetings and distractions from colleagues or bosses – which will provide you more control of your schedule.  Start each day by plotting out what you want to accomplish and chunk out time for each of your tasks.  Schedule creative tasks for the time of day when you feel most innovative.  Likewise, schedule routine task at times when you have less creativity.  Remember to include times for daily tasks like morning email check, team calls, or administrative tasks. It can also be helpful to schedule your entire week in advance, creating checklists to give you a visual of what you have accomplished each week.

Watch your Physical and Mental Well-being

  • You might not initially expect it, but working from home can cause some unique stresses. One of the most common is social isolation which can affect our physical and psychological health. 
  • Keeping in touch with your colleagues is important.  When you were at work, you had water cooler chats and small talk in the hallways.  It is important to set aside time for this same type of activity with your colleagues while working from home.  Video chat through Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams provide great resources to accomplish this.  If you are working from home with your family or loved ones, take advantage of this and connect with them when you are able.
  • Look after your physical health as well by standing once an hour and doing stretches.  Go for a walk or run to start the day or during lunch.  Some have found an unexpected side effect of working from home to be weight gain. These short exercise breaks can help you avoid this while also boosting your creativity and mood.

Make Lunch into An Event

  • Avoid eating lunch at your desk or workspace.  Use lunch as a time to develop a routine, combat social isolation, and stay physically fit. Don’t feel bad about the freedom having lunch at home can provide you.

Working at Home with Your Kids

This is NOT recommended for any general work/remote work situations. However, in light of these unprecedented times, with schools shut down and many communities in “safer at home” modes, these tips for working at home with kids will help you be productive and keep your sanity.

Try not to work AND parent at the same time.

  • In a two (2) - parent household:
    • Have a discussion regarding both of your work requirements
    • Talk with your Manager about your needs
    • Sub in and out. One is working while the other is with the children
  • If you have older kids
    • Have a discussion about what’s going on and help them understand that you still need to work.
    • Let them know, If you are working in a room and the door is closed, they need to text you.

Be realistic about what you can and can’t do. You aren’t going to get as much done working remotely with your kids as would if they were not there.

  • Think about how many hours you can actually work (and maintain your health and sanity)
  • Try something and if it doesn’t work, that’s okay --  course correct
  • Communicate openly with your manager about how things are going

Free yourself from screen guilt. Your children are likely going to watch more TV during this time -- and you do not need to feel guilty about this.

Embrace the opportunity to show your kids what you do every day!