Working remote can be a challenge if you’re not used to it. However, it can also present new opportunities. We hope you’ll be able to take some time during the unsettledness of the world right now and find rewarding work.
Consider some of these tips from our own remote workforce as you make this change, plus some pointers for setting boundaries with family members as their “normal” is changing and will continue to change as well.
Let’s start with your day-to-day workspace. Remember this is different from the occasional work from home day. It’s important to give yourself a more permanent workspace. This will allow you to not have to clean up every night and then spend your next morning getting re-settled. What you are trying to create here is a space that will allow you to get into work mode easily in the morning, but also a space you can easily step away from at the end of the day.
Get ready for your day. You will likely find yourself much more productive if your work from home routine looks markedly different from your weekend drink coffee and ease into your day routine. Whether that is making yourself “camera” ready for virtual video meetings and calls, or putting on your work hat, shoes, or favorite hoodie. The physical act of preparing to switch to work mode will trigger the mental shift to work mode.
Take breaks. While at the office, breaks may have looked like a trip to the coffee pot, chatting with a team member while petting their dog, taking your dog for a quick walk or even a zoom chat with a remote friend/team member. When you’re home the options of what to do during downtime explode. You could throw in a load of laundry, prep dinner, clean something, etc. Just keep three things in mind: Time, connection and expectation.
- Time: 10 minutes cleaning the fridge is not the same as a 10 minute chat with your coworker. We may think we can get that fridge clean in 10 minutes, but that job can start you down a rabbit hole if you’re not careful.
- Connection: Time with coworkers is also teambuilding and can energize you or give you inspiration for a current work project. Doing home projects takes you out of community with your coworkers and can leave you feeling disconnected over time. You don’t have to restrict all home projects, just be aware.
- Expectation: If you live with other people, you have expectations around what chores can get done in a day and when. If you start doing laundry or cleaning the kitchen mid-day, it might become an expectation for the extent of time you work from home. If that’s a fair expectation, go for it. However, if your priority should be office work from 8-5, be careful about doing extra housework (especially during your first week working remote).
Do the right thing: Take care of work… and also you. Create clear boundaries for work/life rhythms.
This is an uncertain and unsettled time for all of us. Remember that, as humans (even introverts 😉), we are wired for connection. It’s not just important to communicate and connect on work projects, but also as people sharing an experience. Please keep this in mind and that we all are going to react and experience this differently.
Stay connected and keep having fun. Full-time remote staff thrive on Zoom chats, you can too!
Text, Zoom, and email are not good for conflict resolution and/or venting frustrations. Pick up the phone, start a zoom call, or make it clear that when the time is right you would like some face-to-face time to have an important conversation.
Take time to be more aware of others. Without physically being in the room with people, it can be difficult to know where the line is on different conversation topics.
Talk to other members of your family about how home life will adjust and set workable strategies for managing it.
- Use visual queues to let those around you know when you’re in focused work time vs available to talk. If you have the luxury of an office space with a closing door, great. If you don’t, consider other visual signifiers like a work hat (put it on when you work, take it off when you’re available), a lamp can also work well.
- If you’ve set up a workspace, maybe it’s physically sitting there that means you’re in work mode and you’re unavailable for casual conversation.
- Continue your current communication style.
With daycares closing and kids being out of school, you may find that you must split your attention between work and family. If that’s you, be sure you talk with your Manager about that change so that you can both reset expectations regarding your personal work remote experience.
This shift in life, work, and all things in between is a major adjustment for everyone. Taking the extra time to prepare yourself and your family, think through your responses, and find creative ways to connect can mean the difference between frustration and a “new normal.”