Remote Work Tips During COVID-19
March 17, 2020
As someone who made the switch from the office to remote work pre-pandemic, I know the feeling of discombobulation when you first make the transition. The Envoy team has operated as a fully-distributed team since the company started so I had a good group of colleagues to reach out to for advice. With the coronavirus continuing to cause uncertainty and a reliance on remote work, I thought I would share some tips that have worked well for me.
Shower & Change Your Clothes
There’s a common misconception that showering and getting dressed for the day is optional when you’re working from home, and while that is an option, my advice in order to have the most focus is to do the opposite. Taking a shower, and getting dressed is a signal to your brain that your workday has started.
Use a Good Communication Tool
Having a communication tool is essential to successful communication and collaboration with a remote team. Our team uses Slack and we have various channels that help our team get the latest news and see the conversations that are happening amongst colleagues. One of the best parts of Slack is the ability to search for topics and get an answer immediately from a past conversation thread that you have may have missed. We also use Slack to promote a positive work culture. We have a #kudos channel where colleagues can publicly acknowledge a job well done.
Sometimes being at home for someone who isn’t used to working remotely can feel stifling. That’s why it’s important to walk outside for a short time each day to get some fresh air, de-stress, exercise, and in turn increase your productivity. A study by cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato that was published in Harvard Business Review found that people who go for a walk 4 times a week are able to think more creatively. Regular exercise is also important to stay healthy and keep your immune system strong.
Focus Your Workspace
Although it’s tempting to set up your office anywhere in your home, it’s important to designate a space that is quiet, free of any clutter, and ideally with a door so you can close yourself off to distractions.
Acknowledge Everyone On Your Calls
If you’re in a remote meeting, sometimes it’s hard to know who exactly is attending the call, especially if attendees are not using a camera and there is a larger team in the room. It’s important to ask who is in attendance and ask each person to give a short introduction if it’s the first time you’re meeting. That way everyone feels involved, acknowledged, and engaged in the conversation.
With kids home, many of us are having to manage homeschool and work schedules and that can make things feel really overwhelming. Kids benefit from a routine so setting a daily schedule for them can make things feel less out of control. Another tip to avoid having to toggle between school and office work constantly is to set a daily schedule for when you’ll take work calls and when you’ll have time to support your kid’s needs, ideally half a day to each so that it feels like less hectic of a transition. And while routines are great, being flexible is the key to thriving in this new normal.
Map Out Your Day
The hardest transition for me from the office to remote work is how quiet the day can feel. With no actual co-workers nearby (besides your children and spouse or partner), it can feel like you are less productive. However, because you might have fewer distractions than the office, you can actually get more work done. It is important to keep yourself on track. Creating a schedule for your day and the week ahead can keep you focused. Organize your schedule into 30-minute increments and add tasks to each increment to stay on track. At the end of the day, you’ll have a visual of how much you’ve accomplished.
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As part of the transition that we are going through in the US, many companies have transformed their in-person conferences to online webinars. Zendesk’s signature Relate event is now a webinar called “Relater”. Learn more about the March 24th event here.