Work is hard. More, when you are stuck at home during a pandemic.
Sticking to working remotely best practices can be a difference-maker in managing work and battling COVID-19.
It is also high time for jobseekers to hone their CVs. A different world awaits on the other side.
But first things first, is it remote work or working remotely? which is grammatically correct? Both are. They just slightly differ in their application.
Working remotely is whenever you choose to work outside of the office. It could be your house or a nearby cafe or a park that allows you to work from wherever you want. Largely this applies to work from home opportunities but without the 9-5 routine.
Remote work is more of a blend, between work from home and working remotely. Those who are single parents or are caretakers can enjoy the mix. You can be at home and watch your little ones. You can also, take them to the park where they can ride on swings while you can get some of the work done.
Keys To Working Remotely Successfully
So which working remotely best practices, as an employee, you should stick to while in lockdown? Read on to learn about tips for working remotely.
1. Good meeting etiquette
People often are at their best when attending meetings at their workplace. They are in their best attire because they know a meeting was scheduled.
However, when working remotely, meetings may not be considered worthy. You can approach in whichever way you desire because no one is watching. I attend them in my PJs since I work across time zones but I’m working on it.
See this where the problem starts. A lack of good meeting etiquette. You have to be in the mood for it and then also look the part. Still, it works by first looking like the part, and then your mood sets in.
Nobody is asking you to dress up, put on a tie, and tuck in a shirt. Just be presentable. PJs tend to make people slack (no, not that Slack!). Zoom is the perfect tool and is one of the topmost collaboration software especially for those working remotely today in conducting online meetings. It even lets you choose these awesome Zoom backgrounds.
So when you are joining a meet, use these to reduce distraction for the other party and mask the in-house background (usually not very appealing). Once you have the meeting etiquette figured out, you can move on to the next step.
2. Experiment with productivity
Remote work has its benefits. You can wake up when you want, but you shouldn’t. Stay on track by waking up at the usual time. I know I tried and I failed. You can’t just beat the workplace environment.
So experiment with productivity by waking up at your own time and then get ready to work. If that fails, try waking up at the time you used to wake up for work. If that fails, try another time.
Working remotely from home can be daunting for some as they are not used to it and once they are out of the office, they can’t bring themselves to the realization that work still goes on. Setting a productive time to work can take some adjusting to.
Therefore, don’t rush. Relax. Keep churning the work. As you long as you are working and the employer knows you are sending in the work, timings don’t matter. if something demands urgent attention, deal with it ASAP, even if it’s the only you do for that day.
Eventually, you will know what time works for you. I have realized, night time works best for me since I started adhering to working remotely best practices in the wake of this pandemic.
Also, productivity is enhanced, if you have a proper place to work such as a work desk and a chair where you can sight upright. However, if sitting on a bed or sofa is your cup of tea and gets the job done, be my guest.
For me, an upright position and a workstation seem to be doing well.
3. Maintain work-life balance
For years I complained that I don’t have a work-life balance due to my job. That’s why they say be careful what you wish for, you just might get it all.
Look now; life in isolation with some work. Either way, the work-life balance needs sorting when working remotely.
Since being at home demands more work around the house than work, you lose track of the work-life balance that you so desperately crave. The opposite starts to happen. therefore, strictly set a timeframe where you won’t let any household task bother you.
The family and kids must understand, that the person still has a job to do. So clearly draw the line where distractions around the house are kept to a minimum. An ideal state is hard to achieve. The point being, it’s doable.
Currently, I am fighting hard to achieve that balance. So you and I are in the same boat.
4. Be visible during work from home
I use Slack to communicate and connect with my peers at work while working remotely from home but the thing is, you cannot let them know if you are available. One way is to involve yourself in watercooler conversations on Slack channels, groups on WhatsApp, or Skype.
Participate, leave a comment, like or react to a post. That way those involved will be made aware of your presence. And most of all set the status to Active such as Slack for me.
Edit your status to “Working from Home”, or mention the project you are working on. That is not to say you should let interruptions run amok even at the times when you are resting or sleeping.
Although, during the waking hours, make sure to respond to show you’re hard at work. Slack has a feature that snoozes any notification for a certain time window based on your timezone.
5. Catch up with your teammates
Working in isolation or during self-isolation can lead you to be unhappy and you may feel like the last person on earth. Robert Neville, anyone?
In times like this, there is no watercooler so you have to create one. Practice a random Zoom call with your teammates. It is a good time to know them outside of work more if your work involves working alone.
Learning how your teammates are doing in quarantine and what projects they are contributing to will motivate you. Spark a chit-chat session or casual conversation with former colleagues and share experiences.
You’ll do better at it. Trust me on this! I’ve seen results.
6. Set accountability parameters
Being accountable during remote work is the biggest thing that you can overcome as a remote worker. As stated previously, distractions are numerous at home. There are dishes, laundry, kids, wife, Netflix, sleeping late, among other household chores.
Set accountability parameters. SET ACCOUNTABILITY PARAMETERS. I cannot emphasize this enough!
Check on yourself, whether or not you contributed as a remote worker to the task at hand. If you didn’t what prevented you from completing it. After all, if your employer is paying you to work from home in these trying and testing times, given he has a business to run, believe me, it’s the biggest blessing in the world that anyone could ask for right now and you should be thankful and hold yourself accountable each day.
There’s news of layoffs and companies unable to carry. So, those of you employees working remotely, don’t take it for granted. Keep it rolling, contribute (no matter how little you work), just keep it going. The idea is to stay on top of things at work.
7. Dissect post project
If you are reading this, chances are that you have gone through all of the pointers above.
What do I mean by dissecting “post-project”?
It means to go over the challenges or ideas that made the previous project work so well or otherwise. Usually, when people are getting used to a certain setting, things don’t automatically fall into place. There is an uphill struggle involved.
So the deadline was Tuesday, but you failed to deliver on the said date instead it took a couple of more days to finally get done with the task. The point is, next time you start working on a project, take note of what prevented you from meeting the deadline.
If it is, you ramped up efforts and delivered before time, what made you successful? Did you follow a routine? That’s dissecting a project. And this does not necessarily have to apply to all of your projects. Some weigh more than others but make sure to dissect those key projects.
It enables learning and equips you better for that next task. Trello is a good tool that helps you keep track of your deadlines and stick to them. I have personally found Trello to be fun.
8. Headphones selection
This is an important tool when working remotely.
It’s obvious – to keep distractions at bay. While prioritizing tasks comes down to you at the end of the day nevertheless you can curtail noise. Heck, I even use headphones at work to keep the office chatter to a minimum (ironic, isn’t it? No one is chatting now).
Moreover, when you are on a video chat/call, a good set of headphones or earphones (for that matter) will enable you to hear the other person.
Put on your favorite playlist, white noise, brown noise, or any other sound such as thunder rumbling/rain pouring on leaves, etc. when you need to focus. It works like a charm!
9. Stay healthy (mainly amidst COVID-19)
Above all, stay healthy. Eat foods that build your immune system. Exercise indoors, go for a walk, etc. Meditate as much as you can to keep those nerves under check and also, so you can keep the anxiety from coronavirus at bay. Take care of your loved ones.
Maintain social distancing and stay indoors where practically applicable. If you are in the best of health you can function well at remote work.
Will remote working die after the pandemic is over? Not a chance! Stats are looking good more than ever.
It just might become the New World Order (for work).
How Can Leaders Develop A Good Remote Culture?
Managers, perhaps, have the most difficult job of all. To get the team aligned on how to work remotely. The best way to go about it is to make the team feel (all the time) to know what they are doing. If there is a feedback system in place, they’ll be invested in work.
During this time people will get anxious, depressed, and worry about their future. Working remotely best practices dictate that you help the team feel less nervous.
Ideally, do not let any member of the team have less access to you than the other. It fosters a culture of favoritism (which is bad as is), and you are gonna wanna have to avoid it from happening.
Secondly, how to measure your employee’s productivity to review them for the work they put in? COVID-19 is here to stay (and I am no medical expert), but maybe you and I are in it for the long haul.
You cannot micromanage from a distance, and if you have a habit of micromanaging your employees, it’s time you learn to move past it. Trust them and let them take ownership of the task.
It is quite straightforward to tell which employees are putting in the work from those who have (sadly) taken this as an extended paid vacation.
A hardworking employee will always rush to you for feedback and follow-ups, and it’s not sucking up to the boss rather it is the will to get it done right (the first time).
Therefore, the best way to work remotely while managing your team is to let them do the heavy lifting. It will enable them to become self-motivated, self-starters, and instill in them the habit of executing a project from end-to-end.
To manage as effectively as possible, another idea when working remotely is to keep meetings/online sync-ups short and crisp. Don’t drag. Talk – to the point. Discuss issues and offer or elicit possible solutions from the team. Know this, people hate meetings.
A wise man once said, “Meetings are where minutes are wasted.”
If it could have been an email, well, simply email then.
To Wrap Up Working Remotely Best Practices
We are going to survive this, but give respect to your job and do your best when you are working from home.
On the plus side, it’s making our world greener by reducing carbon emissions. We are practicing cleanliness by washing our hands and sanitizing them. This pandemic is saving us commute times which people complain about.
It’s giving us plenty of time for things we always wanted to do.
P.S. Remember, working remotely during COVID-19 is very different than it is on usual days. If you are someone who has faced this for the first time, I think tips for working remotely in this article should suffice. Don’t think you will master them in one day. It will require a few days of training to work remotely.
Did I miss out on any best practice?
Let me know in the comments.