If you’re like us, you may find yourself unexpectedly working from home in the coming weeks. While our team has the capacity to work from home – and have been encouraged to do so – we enjoy working together and the culture that we’ve developed in the office. It’s difficult to leave that behind for the solitude of home, especially in times when we would rather rally together.
Having worked from home for two years in a previous position, I have a few tips for being productive remotely while maintaining the culture we have worked so hard to build at the office. Here are four steps to working effectively from home:
#1 Set Up For Success
Start by setting up a remote work space that gives you the best chance for success. Set up your space in an area that is (as much as possible) free from distractions. Maybe you’ll end up with a desk in your bedroom! Wherever the least number of distractions are is where you should be. Use these tips to arrange your desk as ergonomically as possible and use a rolled-up towel to support your back if you’ll be sitting for extended periods of time.
The distractions that you face while you work from home are very different from the office. I recommend scheduling ‘sprints’ of work where you’ll focus on a task for a set amount of time. Ignore all the household tasks and the Netflix show you’ve been binging during your sprint. Scheduling specific times to focus helps me feel more productive and engaged. But don’t feel guilty when you step away for a few minutes! You would have spent that time making coffee or chatting at the water cooler, right?
#2 Grab Some Reliable Tech
Check your Wi-Fi connectivity or plug in to an Ethernet cable. Contact your internet provider to inquire about temporarily upping your internet package if you can. Grab some headphones that can be used in meetings and phone calls. Invest in a wireless mouse and keyboard or borrow a set from work if you’re able.
Having reliable tech that’s as close to what you’re used to in the office will limit how much you have to adapt your habits and make for a smoother transition to remote working.
PRO TIP: If you’re used to working with an extra screen, grab an HDMI cable and plug in to the nearest TV set!
#3 Communicate To A Fault
Communication is the key to every relationship, right?! This is true even in the workplace, and especially when working remotely. Use a chat system, video conferencing, and phone calls to communicate with your team throughout the day.
At Regroove, we use Microsoft Teams to communicate (even when we’re in the office). We check-in every morning for a daily ‘scrum’ where we report any client and internal meetings we have scheduled, any tasks we are working on or need to complete, and any roadblocks we might be facing. We even chime in when we have extra cycles or need help with a project. We also have the option to add something we’re grateful for. This is an uplifting way to start the morning, especially in times where we’re looking for some reasons to smile.
Over communicate with your teammates and lean on them for support. There is a perpetuated idea that working from home is lonely, but it doesn’t have to be! There are many remote employee engagement ideas that would keep conversation flowing throughout the day just like you would in the office. Host meetings online (turn your video on!) and make impromptu calls throughout the day where needed. Any time you’re thinking “I wish I could just go over and talk to them”, spin up a Teams video chat.
Host an online pyjama party, play heads up on screen at lunch, and stay connected!
#4 Log Out At The End Of The Day
When you work remotely, the lines between “home” and “the office” begin to blur. At the end of your work day, you need to set boundaries. It can be tempting to sit down for “just a few minutes” after dinner to finish up that last task. However, if you never step away, your productivity during the work hours will suffer. Turn off your computer at the end of the day and take some well-deserved (and needed) time for yourself.
The idea of working from home does not appeal to everyone. However, when it becomes necessary in times like these, use these tips to make the most of your day and be effective remotely.