As an early adopter of remote working — I serviced many of my clients in North America while living in Australia in the late 90s — I’ve become accustomed to working in almost any location or environment. However, if you’re just starting out because of circumstances and need to work from home or you’re renting a desk for the first time from one of the many coworking spaces, it can take some time to get used to the new working arrangement.
To help ease the adjustment, there are a number of practices you can implement to help you and your team get through the day.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Regardless of whether you’re down the road or in another country 10 times zones away, the key to a successful and productive remote working relationship with your team members comes down to communication.
In fact, just a simple gesture of acknowledging a coworker’s email request can go a long way to quelling any anxiety they may experience wondering whether you received the request and are taking it seriously. When I worked from Australia I’d often take it a step further and let my clients know when I’d be able to get back to them with an answer to their request.
Another simple way to keep the lines of communication open is to let team members know that you’re available once you start your work day. With tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams it’s easy to just say hello when you start your day or leave a note that you’ll be back after lunch.
Often times it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.
Whether your team is spread out in multiple countries, time zones or just down the street, I find it helpful to schedule regular meetings. Video conference tools such as Zoom, Skype or Hangouts make it super easier to see and talk with your team regardless of distance.
If your team typically has daily stand up meetings in the office, it’s important to keep doing them via video even if it’s just to say good morning.
And don’t be afraid to jump on a call to work through an issue if chat or email isn’t getting you the answer you want. There’s nothing worse than yelling at the screen hoping the person on the other side would “just get it” when a quick phone or Slack call will get it done in no time.
Use the Right Tools
When it comes to working remotely, there’s no substitute for having the right tools. There’s also no greater productivity suck than bad tech. Whether you use a free version or sign up for a paid plan, it’s important to use tools that are compatible with your team regardless of their devices, especially if the tools are new to the team. There’s nothing worse than having one or more participants in a conference call saying “can you hear me?” repeatedly. For those who have an older device or poor speakers, it’s worth the investment to pick up a reliable camera, microphone and earphones to take calls and stay connected.
Whether you’re working at home or in a coworking space, it’s important to have an area where you can be free from distractions. If you’re at home, try to work in a room that has a door, especially if you have young children who may not understand that Mommy or Daddy isn’t supposed to be bothered. If you have older kids, let them know that you’ll be on a call or tied up for a set time of the day.
Outside of the family distractions, it’s also important not to surround yourself with too many distractions. Whether that’s the music at a coworking office or the TV at home, a great set of noise-canceling headphones can go a long way to keeping the peace.
Get in the Zone
Regardless of your space and the tech you use, if you’re not in the right frame of mind when you start your day, it can be hard to get motivated. If your typical day starts with a routine that gets you going for the work day before you hit the office, then it’s important to find something new, especially if you’re working from home for the first time.
Maybe it’s a morning jog, meditating or just some alone time with your favourite cup of tea or coffee. Whatever it is, it’s vital to tap into the right mindset to get your day off to a great start.
Take a Break
if you’re like me, it’s easy to get so focused on work that you forget to eat, drink or take a break. Though it’s important to stay focused while you work, it’s also vital that you take a rest and re-nourish. Working from home can often seem a little isolated so it can be extremely refreshing to get off your ass and get some fresh air.
If this article from the Guardian: Covid-19 could cause permanent shift towards home working is any indication, you could find working from home or a serviced office a permanent option moving forward.
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I’m the founder of Data Collective, a boutique agency focused on helping businesses turn disparate data sources into insights and actions that drive better outcomes. Please give this article a clap if you got some value from it.