Like many of you, we’ve been receiving daily suggestions of articles offering advice and insights on how to work remotely most effectively. A lot of these lists offer some great advice, and we’ve even been included in a few such articles ourselves (links below). What struck me, however, was that there was always something in a list that felt like it was missing or that might be overstated for my specific needs. Assuming that might be the case for others out there, I asked members of the Art+Logic team to offer their own insights into tricks, concerns, and changes that help them work remotely while still staying focused and maintaining a high standard. We’ve been working remotely for almost 30 years.
Juan Carlos Perez:
Noise-cancelling headphones can be a life and mood changer. You might also want or need to remind people that when you are typing, you are working. Or wear a hat that conveys the same message. 🙂
If you don’t already have a home office, try to designate a place as your office.
If you’re going to work from home for a long time, it’s worth it to invest in ergonomics. You might regret using just any old chair or desk.
If you have small children and it’s possible to be in a room with a closed door it helps with interruptions.
Be clear with family members about respecting your work space/time. Interrupt only if an emergency. Tell the family “operate as if I’m not at home.”
If you’re having issues with video calls, etc. be sure to check what else is using bandwidth in your house—family members streaming movies, online gaming, etc. All of it will compete for the same available bandwidth.
Be aware of distractions that pull you away from work tasks (laundry, dishes, anything needing attention) Set aside time for chores after work.
Establish a routine or schedule and stick with it. Use rituals to reinforce it.
I almost always walk while I talk on the phone. Makes it much easier to keep my Fitbit happy that way.
You can read more about remote work from Paul here: "Remote-first versus remote-friendly: What’s the difference?"
Maintaining separation between work and home life is important, even more so when it’s hard to go out for activities because of virus-related precautions. Self-care like exercise, walks, and interacting with others (even online) is key.
Because people can’t see that you are busy, make use of calendars and status settings to convey that you aren’t available. Also, calendar tasks you need to do so those times aren’t interrupted with “do you have a minute to chat?” It’s the distributed version of closing your office door to focus on getting a proposal written.
Because communication is asynchronous, remember that not everyone or everything needs your response immediately – we are conditioned to check up on notifications thanks to FB and Twitter, but in a collaborative workplace environment, responding immediately to every notification can eat your entire day.
I’d also encourage employers to set up a space/channel/group for community posts. People will want to update each other on things that they would normally share in the break room — to keep culture and connection strong, provide an avenue to do that.
Even during your designated work times and work space, try to avoid conducting work from a mobile device. It’s far too easy for your work to spill into your personal space if you get too comfortable working from a mobile device.
You can read more from Bob about remote work here: The Bosses Who Prefer When Employees Work From Home and here 7 tips for using Zoom, Google Meet, and other remote work apps as more companies mandate employees work from home amid coronavirus outbreak
One routine that helps me is to "get ready" as if I were going to walk out the front door. Select a comfortable work-appropriate outfit, brush/comb my hair, double check whatever is in my background if I’m going to be using a webcam.
The Pomodoro technique! Grid your day into half hour increments — 25 minutes of work, 5 minutes of stretching, breathing, resting. Not only does this keep you from being slouched at your desk for hours on end, but it’s also a nice way to manage your time.
Keep the machine you use for work separate from the machine you use to read the news about the apocalypse happening somewhere outside. TURN OFF the apocalypse machine when you’re ready to work.
Putting a lock or anti-baby doorknob cover on the office door does not (necessarily) mean you’re a bad parent.
Working remotely might be seen as a prompt for a company to write down information that was never written before, making it more visible/appreciable to more employees — regardless of whether they’re remote or not. Depending.