The pandemic hits and the world suddenly must scramble to learn the ins and outs of working remotely. It cannot be overly stressed that the key to working from home is effective communication. Whereas in the past to get an idea approved, or to ask a question, you might have shot off a quick e-mail or sauntered over to a colleague’s desk, in the work from home environment everything is done electronically.
Working remotely has come as a shock to a lot of people. One of my clients recently reached out to me for tips since I had been working from home for over a year. After some discussion with my remote colleagues, I compiled the following list:
- Stay in touch.
Open all the lines of communication available to you. Use whatever conference software you can to meet and review documents. Try to get over the dislike of the video feature. It really helps to see familiar faces, even on a screen. Compared to face-to-face interaction you might feel like you are over-communicating. That’s okay.
- Ask questions.
A lot of them. We get a lot of information non-verbally. When the physical is removed from communication, things are not be as clear as we think. I often work with SMEs that like to tell me what they want done to a document in person, pointing here and there. Gesticulation does not translate through emails.
- Set up your workspace and routine.
Try not to deviate too much from your normal routine. Set up a workspace separate from your living space, if possible. Get up at a scheduled time and get ready just like you would to go to work. Stop working at your normal time, too. Dress for the office. Create an environment reminiscent of your workspace that you can differentiate from your home space. Doing so will help you isolate your work stressors from your home stressors.
Use a daily planner, SharePoint, or other program to keep track of your projects and deadlines. A whiteboard can help with this. Make sure you are on top of co-workers’ expectations. Make daily to-do lists.
The absence of human interaction can be a challenge when working from home. You might have taken for granted the benefits of human interaction. Those ‘water cooler’ moments, while seeming like a waste of time, are now reflective of the importance of work relationships. Socialization is part of teamwork. Take a moment to check in with colleagues about non-related work items. Schedule a “happy hour” after work to help break up the isolation.
Don’t forget to take walks and breaks just like you would do at work. Sitting and staring at a screen for long periods of time has been proven to be unhealthy behavior. Try to find the remote working tips that work best for you and pass them along to your team.