Transition to a Stay-at-Home and Work-from-Home world due to the global COVID-19 outbreak has changed everyone’s daily lives and dramatically affected all existing workflows and processes. This is happening in many places around the world, highlighting how much our societies are globally interconnected.
Many online services have quickly moved from optional to necessary for people's health, food, education, entertainment, and overall quality of life. Even though today’s situation can hardly be described as ‘business as usual’, we successfully maintain uninterrupted service and accessibility to our clients worldwide. Therefore, our team has redoubled efforts to stay focused and has taken seriously the responsibility to make this world a better place.
While working from home can seem challenging, in this age of rapidly changing technology, it’s something that teams around the globe are already equipped to tackle. Whether you’re working from home and leading teams remotely for many years, or are just getting started on this journey, here are some useful tips on how to navigate through these challenging times. We hope you can find some benefit from it.
Grab a drink, grab a snack and let’s get back into the groove!
1. Have your morning routine
One of the most important things to become a successful remote worker is to start your day off right. Get up on time, get ready as if you were going to the office, have your breakfast preferably by the window and set your mind to work. Establish a productive morning routine that motivates you.
The common misconception of the remote life is that no one can stop you from working on the couch watching Netflix besides, wearing pajamas, indulging in snacks all day and doing things around the house. When remote work is your day-to-day reality, it becomes imperative to treat it with an appropriate amount of respect and do your best to figure out how to be more productive. To be more specific, the way you treat yourself on the outside will surely reflect your communications.
So, take time to appreciate the given possibility to work from home during these difficult circumstances and raise thoughtfulness at both an individual and a team level.
2. Create a dedicated office space
To be able to maintain a strong mental focus on what you do, consider creating a home office or at least work in a room with a door you can shut when needed. Working remotely full time can make it hard to separate your work and personal life. But when you think about it better, you’re in charge of your own environment. So why not take advantage of this convenience and adjust everything to yourself!
If you feel more like a clean-cut type of person and messiness makes you anxious, tidy up a little and optimize your environment. Empty desks with just a few items may have you to be more productive. On the other hand, some of you may drain creativity out of overcrowded surroundings. Choose whatever you think that suits you better, yet keep in mind that your bed, living room couch or kitchen table are surely the most unproductive places to work in.
3. Define home toolbox
Remote work has never been so easy to implement thanks to plenty of different digital tools. Every remotely gathered team needs to use a defined home toolbox and every individual needs to have a strong internet connection. Tools are created to boost productivity. For example, try to use a headset with a good mute function when communicating; use two monitors if possible; use a screen sharing program; leverage a webcam and all needed devices to work with and to test/reproduce possible issues, etc.
To develop key relationships with your team and to maintain formal and informal communication, it is very important to use conferencing tools. Here at QSD, we use Slack for chat/video calls, Trello for project management, Hourly for daily reports, Google Docs for sharing documents, Zoom for video meetings, etc. You get the point – Defined digital toolset generally helps to gain a sense of togetherness and teamwork.
4. Communicate to maintain interaction and company culture
Some challenges of remote work experience include feelings of loneliness and disconnection. That is why it is crucial to use all available reporting options for internal communication purposes. You need to exchange feedback with your colleges and/or project manager on a daily/weekly basis, to review what you have accomplished so far and what are your further steps. Make yourself accessible and contribute to build up a timely and transparent internal communication when everyone is available to collaborate and/or meet.
Instant Messaging is a useful tool for quick communication but when someone from your team gives feedback on a project via IM, their tone may come off completely different than if they were seen in person. What may be perceived as curt was intended to be more like a quick, casual suggestion. Email is also not appropriate for every type of message. For example, keeping emails short and professional, can make a message seem harsh. However, video meetings are a great way to connect more directly as they inject a tone of voice into your communications and can also help you feel valued and a part of the team.
So, the point is to make sure your team has the opportunity to occasionally meet and bond in person via Video meetings. That will make working remotely function better and more smoothly.
5. Encourage informal communication
Our CEO keeps the team updated with the most recent global news, motivates us to stay focused on work but also reaches out just to check on how we are doing. Our team exchanges thoughts on many topics, and not related only to business, by sharing favorite music, movies, memes, news, useful articles, etc.
A chance to relax a bit and laugh together makes this period significantly less stressful.
6. Stay organized
How to change your usual habits to work in a remote environment and be productive? Staying organized is yet another key to successfully working from home. The most important part of personal productivity is time management. Control your schedule by setting clear boundaries. Organize your daily/weekly/monthly tasks to optimize your own productivity. Breaking down tasks into small stages and setting internal deadlines for each one of them can prevent you from leaving the majority of the work until the last minute. Don’t hesitate on keeping an accurate to-do list and writing down the notes, even those colorful hand-written for old fashioned ones. It may also be helpful to use an alarm to signal the end of time required for each daily project to avoid putting in way more effort and time than needed. Or it might make sense to structure your week so you accomplish one task per day. Remember, the choice is yours! The flexibility of remote working gives you enough space and the privilege to organize yourself better.
In the end, try to avoid blurring the lines between work and personal time. As it is important to work without personal distractions during business hours, it is also important to leave the work at work at the end of the day.
7. Take a break
When you get exhausted, devoid of motivation and sense the burnout feeling, it’s time to re-prioritize your work, take a break, refresh your mind and most importantly, share your thoughts with your supervisor. Sharing work-in-progress with a co-worker can also be a good opportunity to get validation that you’re on the right track.
However, it’s important to make a balance – to freshen up your perspectives a little and spend some time just chilling and relaxing.
That's it! We hope you will be able to find at least a few of these tips helpful.
Give us a shot and let us know what you think! Happy(remote)working!
Be safe and stay healthy.