Our Top Tips for Working Remotely
24 March 2020
There’s a high chance that you’re reading this at work. And there’s an even higher chance that due to the current world situation, “work” and “home” have become one and the same.
For anyone who does most of their work online, making the switch to working from home seems simple.
Until you actually do it.
Suddenly your back is aching from that repurposed dining chair, you’re feeling overwhelmed by the simplest of tasks, and your inability to focus is surpassed only by mounting stress.
“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the task of staying focused and productive while at home.”
We know these feelings because we’ve been there. As our own office has gone remote and our team comes together to keep operations running smoothly, we’ve been sharing our struggles, tips and triumphs with each other to make working at home just as productive as (if not more than) being at the office.
To help others in similar situations, we’ve put together a comprehensive and helpful guide to becoming a productive, happy and most importantly, healthy remote worker. So put on some real pants, turn off Netflix, and get ready to supercharge your workday. And, you know, maintain your sanity.
Set up a Dedicated Workspace
Laptops are portable, but that doesn’t mean your bed or couch are appropriate workspaces. The boss might not be able to see you rugged up in your blankets, but your brain doesn’t exactly associate that space with work.
In order to keep your mind focused and on-track, it’s essential to set up a dedicated workspace. That can be a home office, a desk in your bedroom, or even the kitchen table which, let’s be honest, you literally never eat at.
“It’s never been easier to work online thanks to the wealth of tools and applications at our disposal.”
Make sure you have all the right equipment to do your job. That might mean seeing if your extra screen can get sent to you from the office, ensuring you have the correct cables and chargers, or fashioning a standing desk from some old boxes. A few houseplants wouldn’t hurt, either. And make sure you have a comfortable chair.
If you’re sharing your home with a partner, family, or housemates, be sure to talk to them about boundaries and structures regarding your availability while “at work”. They might not realise you’re too busy to look after the baby for the morning or gossip about Drag Race.
It’s never been easier to work online thanks to the wealth of tools and applications at our disposal. Now’s your chance to get familiar with them.
The right technology can make a world of difference. Pick the right technology to improve your team’s workflow and communications and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. Here are our top picks:
- Slack for team communications, important announcements, and sharing memes.
- Google Hangouts for meetings, friendly check-ins, and comparing cute babies and pets.
- Monday or Trello for managing projects and tasks, delegating work, and organising workflow. Personally, we’ve converted to Monday. Sorry, Trello. Asana is also great.
We also can’t say enough about the benefits of the Pomodoro method. Using a browser extension or an app on your phone, you set a timer that allows you to work for a set period of time (usually 25 minutes) with regular breaks in between (usually 5 minutes). After completing four blocks of work, you get a longer break.
This tool is invaluable for maintaining concentration. Trying to force yourself to focus for hours on end isn’t actually effective. By honouring those breaks, you’re utilising the way your brain likes to focus. Some of these apps include ambient soundscapes or white noise to block out distraction and will even block tempting websites, like Reddit and YouTube.
Keep on Top of Communication
Even though you’re sitting home alone, you’re still functioning as part of a team.
Take all the necessary measures to ensure you’re still reachable and connected. Make sure your coworkers have your number. Join the company Slack group. Set up notifications on your computer and phone so you don’t miss anything. Show up for the Monday meeting, even if it’s via Zoom.
“Looking after your health (and sanity!) when stuck at home is crucial.”
It’s also important to stay socially connected. You’re not able to have those kitchen chats while making a cup of tea or walk over to show your coworker the latest Office meme you found.
The opportunity for those exchanges still exists. It’s just shifted to a different space. Friday drinks on Google Hangouts, anyone?
Keep a Routine
The biggest perk of working from home is the lack of commute, but that doesn’t mean you should throw all sense of normalcy out the window.
Maintain regular wake up times and any other routines you usually have. If you usually go to the gym in the morning, do a home workout or, if you can leave the house, go for a run. Brush your hair. Put on real clothes (and no, pyjamas don’t count). Again, these things signal your brain that you’re getting ready to go to work, not zombie out in front of YouTube on a day off.
“”During times like these, maintaining a proper distinction between your work life and your home life is more important than ever.”
But productivity isn’t the only thing to consider. Looking after your health (and sanity!) when stuck at home is crucial.
Honour your lunch breaks and actually leave your desk. We personally love the power of a lunchtime walk if you’re not quarantined. Listen to your favourite podcast, or forego the headphones entirely and enjoy the birdsong as you check out the local park (maintaining proper social distancing, of course).
When the workday is done, it’s essential that you “leave work”. Close your laptop. Walk away from your desk and, if possible, close the door to that room. Go for another walk. Give in to those Netflix cravings. You’ve earned it!
During times like these, maintaining a proper distinction between your work life and your home life is more important than ever. And hopefully, you’ll hold onto these healthy habits long after the world returns to normal.
Consider the Benefits
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the task of staying focused and productive while at home. We get it. It’s a stressful situation, to say the least. Which is why it’s so beneficial to take time each day to consider the things you are able to do.
Spending more time with family and pets. Listening to your own music, as loud as you like. Impromptu solo dance parties. Cooking whatever you want for lunch without having to worry about creating weird smells in the office. Mid-day yoga sessions. Not wearing a bra.
Whatever positives you can find, hold on to them.