Although working remotely sounds appealing to many of you and in this current situation, there is no other option, everybody should be aware of certain do’s and don’ts or let’s say traps.
Usually, a high number of remote workers work from home, around 80%, while about 10% work from coworking places, coffee shops, and libraries, and the rest of them use some other alternatives. But in the quarantine scenario, all of us will be working from home so that the focus will be kept there.
Those of you that recently went to college as I did, surely remember that it is not the same if you study at home or the library with your friends, each side has its benefits and things you should or shouldn’t do, just like working remotely or in the company’s office.
Do: work in a separate room (home office or similar) — let everyone in your family know that you are working. People can easily get distracted by their family members, pets, or even house chores, and that will decrease your productivity.
Do: have a well-outlined working plan. Form a routine, know when you will start to work and when you will finish. Of course, there will be days that require more working hours, but holding to a predetermined plan will keep you from working the whole day.
Since I don’t work in the software development department, we don’t have specific methodologies of working. Still, we found that having one weekly meeting in the duration of 1 hour and daily 15min conferences at the beginning and end of working hours really help us stick to our goals and keep everyone updated.
Do: stay connected to the rest of your organization. Use Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, or whatever tool your organization utilizes for communication. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; you don’t want to feel alienated and lonely while working. From time to time ask for a one-on-one meeting, it is useful to get your work reviewed and talk about the career path.
Do: have the right tools, equipment, and infrastructure to do the work. You need to have adequate communication tools, working equipment like a laptop, desk, probably external monitors, a good chair — you don’t want to risk your health, also stable and secure internet connection is a must-have — spending time waiting for pages to load or trying to reconnect to the internet will leave you frustrated.
Do: take regular breaks from work; it is easy to get in the loop of neverending work. Grab a coffee or eat lunch with someone, as I said, working remotely can get lonely from time to time, so it is crucial to have a real-life human interaction.
Do: set non-business related page/app restrictions. Constantly buzzing from social media in combination with in-house distractions can be a total nightmare. It can easily kick you out of “the zone” and slow you down in problem-solving. A “few” minutes of social media scrolling easily end up as a few hours of wasted time every week.
Don’t: discriminate, and this goes for employers. Research conducted by the London Business School found that companies reward more on-site workers than those who are remote, so if you ever feel neglected, don’t be afraid to speak up.
Don’t: be unprepared for a day. Always have ready lunch or someone who will make it for you. Sudden cravings can be a huge distractor, and you could end up making a three-course meal, which will take half of your regular working time, sure you are working from home, but do you really want to work until 10 pm? Always be up to date with daily tasks and ready for meetings.
Don’t: work where you sleep or eat. It won’t give you a sense of the working environment, you will probably start to procrastinate, and you will look less professional on video calls.
Don’t: multi-task during meetings. Sometimes it is challenging to remain focused and engaged in the discussion, especially if meetings are long. Multi-tasking often results in doing two or more things poorly rather than doing one thing very good and in the end, you probably won’t remember what the discussion about was.
Those are just some of my tips; I hope they will be helpful to some of you who are just starting to work remotely.
Although there are some general guidelines, in the end, it all comes down to what works best for you. Some of you are maybe night owls and will be more productive during the evening rather than during the day, or you simply work for companies that are in different timezones.
But still, the main focus should be on productivity, staying focused, and connected to the rest of the organization.