Working from home because of the Coronavirus? You’re definitely not alone! As more teams go completely remote, expectations and norms have shifted about working from home, especially in turbulent times. Remote work is gaining steam in the workforce, too. A whopping 63 percent of companies reported remote workers among their ranks.
With a little bit of patience and adaptability, working from home can be even more productive than working in your normal office environment. To catch you up on this brave new working world, we’ve compiled a list of remote work best practices for you and your team.
Stick To a Routine
When you get into a rhythm, suddenly breaking it is jarring and even uncomfortable. If you work a traditional nine-to-five job, skipping the step of getting kids ready for school and preparing for the commute to work will take some adjusting.
Treating your workday like you would if you were going to an office ensures you're up, dressed, and well-fed all day long! Here are a few ways to get into a routine at home:
- Don’t work from bed. You may start to feel like you’re always at work and lost a place to come home to. Instead, set up an area to be your office away from the office in another room.
- Follow your usual routine and get dressed. This way, you’re ready for any video conference meetings and have mentally set yourself up for the workday.
- Maintain the same schedule you normally would so that you keep to your routines and the team knows when you’re available.
Remember, it’s all about routine!
Take Lunch and Breaks
Taking breaks is a key part of productivity, but it’s too easy to skip them when you’re alone! We all get stir-crazy from time to time, so walking away from your desk for a few minutes is crucial for your focus. Try building regular breaks into your environment to get some variety into your daily schedule.
You can also take a few proactive steps to get moving and active throughout the day. Here are just a few ideas:
- Leave your phone in the kitchen. This way, you have to get up and check it when it rings, instead of instantly grabbing it.
- Don’t keep junk food or drinks within easy reach.
- Keep nutritious snack options like fruit or yogurt in your kitchen.
- Set up a virtual lunch group to get some social interaction.
- Take a quick walk outside to get moving a bit!
Resting your eyes and brain will center you again so you get back to work with a clear head. Don’t underestimate the power of taking a walk, either! It’s easy to skip exercising, but it can actually help us concentrate and be more efficient.
Use Video for Meetings
Face-to-face meetings are still possible, even when you’re working from home! Thanks to video conferencing tools like Zoom, we can still hold meetings and stay in touch with team members.
When you’re meeting in the same room you can provide each other with facial cues as to how each person is feeling, and easily see when someone else is about to speak. These sorts of micro-interactions are crucial to smooth communication during a meeting. With video conferencing, you still get those important interactions even if your team members are miles away.
For video conferencing, you should always mute yourself when you’re not speaking and avoid taking a call in a noisy room. Feedback and echos from your microphone can be distracting and derail the meeting altogether.
You should also keep your video on to stay engaged with the meeting. You still want everyone to see your smiling face! Treating the conference call like any other in-person meeting will also help you stay in-the-moment with the topic of discussion. You can also take handwritten notes during your call to keep your eyes active and to stay engaged.
Remember Context is Key
When in doubt, always over-communicate. We miss a lot of context in plain text messages. Make sure you provide context when communicating through Slack or email to ensure your real message isn’t lost in the format.
Prefacing messages with your context can really help to prevent any miscommunication when things are out of the ordinary. These are unprecedented times, so miscommunication can just make things more hectic for the workday.
Let team members know when you are heads-down on a project and can’t respond to questions right away. This way, no one is left hanging with an important question you just couldn’t get to in time. Over-communicating is always better than making assumptions. You know what they say about assumptions, after all.
When you’re really unsure, schedule a quick video call to discuss it “face-to-face” with your coworker. You’ll be able to clear up any lingering questions and get the clarification you need with a conversation, the same as you would in an office setting. On top of that, you can get some social interaction in!
Working from home can be a stress-free and productive experience, so don’t let it scare you! Adjusting to a new working situation is tough, and with anxiety running high, it’s easy to become reactive and lose focus. But all hope isn’t lost yet!
More teams are going remote, so this can also be an opportunity to test it out for yourselves. If you stick to the remote work best practices, you and your team can align and be just as productive as you were in your office.