What I’ve Learnt Since Working Remotely
For a lot of us, we have been working from home for over a month now. IT issues have smoothed out and Zoom calls with your colleagues are second nature – for work related matters and simply to just connect in lieu of office chatter.
But while we may be in the groove of your new norm, there are a number of ways you can ensure your productivity levels remain high, your clients are still getting the TLC they deserve and you eventually return back to the office feeling happy and healthy. Here are three main tips I’ve learned to embrace since working remotely.
TIP #1: STAY CONNECTED, BUT KNOW WHEN TO DISCONNECT
Your lap-top is always on, emails running in the background, Slack messenger is sending regular notifications, your calendar is reminding you of your upcoming meeting and those push-notifications keep coming through on your phone. The perceived notion of always be online and accessible when working remotely can often mean people take less breaks or work longer hours than if they were sat in a structured office environment. It’s important to remember that to do your best work you need to feel balanced and support your physical and mental health. Consider incorporating a few of the following:
- Set working hours and when you’ve switched off, you’re really offline. Ensure all notifications are silenced as well
- When working on a presentation or you need some serious focus time, log-off your messenger apps for an hour at a time and check in with your team every hour
- Structure team catch ups or update your managers at set points during the day, so everyone knows what you’re up to and what you’re working on without the need to check in sporadically
TIP #2: WHEN YOU DO CONNECT, BE SMART
While we are all in the same boat at home and not everyone has a designated office or zone to themselves, there are a few ways you can ensure your virtual meetings run smoothly and that you’re still presenting the professional you every time.
A few ‘at home processes’ we at FORWARD are choosing to use include:
- Be respectful of everyone’s time: It’s easy to have a day filled up with video calls and catch-ups. While these are fantastic to connect more than just a phone call, the same rules apply to running an effective meeting: have an agenda or point to the call and know when to wrap it up
- Show Up: Not only do you look professional, it also helps you get in the ‘work zone’ by wearing your usual office clothes, so leave your pyjamas for after-office hours only!
- Video On or Off? This really depends on the general consensus of the group. If everyone has his or her video option off then you can too. Except when you are presenting an important document or sharing of ideas. Just like in real life, the focus should be on the person doing most of the talking! That said, a video call is a nice way to connect and see mannerisms and smiling faces on the other side
- Tidy background on video calls: No one wants to see your pile of laundry sitting behind you. While it may not be a plain background, ensuring distractions are kept to the minimum and you have a tidy background is ideal
TIP #3: LOOK AFTER YOURSELF MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY
It goes without saying that to be productive in your workday, you must look after your physical and mental health first. There is a wealth of expert advice out there on this topic but here are a few examples of what we at FORWARD have found to be most useful:
- Create a home to work ‘commute’ routine: Just as you would have your set routine before walking out the door in the mornings, it’s important to create a routine that transitions your mindset from home to work. We have started new morning exercise routines, taken some extra time to have a coffee on the balcony before official start time, and waking up early enough to prepare ourselves for the day ahead.
- Choose a dedicated workspace: As tempting as it might be to power up your laptop from the couch, it’s best to leave any spaces associated with leisure time just for that. A dedicated space on the kitchen bench, table or if possible, actual desk, will help keep your mindset in ‘work mode’ during office hours.
- Keep moving! After the first few days of working remotely, we were all shocked to see our step counts were no where near the advised 10,000 steps needed per day for general health. FORWARD has started a ‘step club’ to keep ourselves accountable and challenged, sharing the number of steps we take each day with each other
- Regular check-ins with family, friends and colleagues: Team FORWARD ensures we start and end our day with a team Zoom meeting – and its not to strictly talk business either. Checking in to see how everyone’s day has been, discuss any news and how are weekends went ensures we stay connected and have a laugh. The same can be said for family and friends on a regular basis too. You can never underestimate the power a good conversation can have on your mood and wellbeing.
These are just a few of the tips I’ve learned and FORWARD has implemented over the past six weeks to help us get the most out of each day. Hopefully you find them useful too!
Written by Renee Black.