The second in our series of resource roundups is dedicated to managing remote work.
Tech and Security
Make sure you have the technology you need. Good internet, a dedicated phone (and reception), account access and passwords, programs – all are easy to take for granted from a work computer with saved login credentials. There are a ton of apps to help with project management, workflow, productivity, and communication. Try to get your team on the same page about what to use and how to use it for clarity and coordination. Waiting while factions of Zoom versus Hangouts users debate which to adopt is a frustrating waste of time. Saving files to a cloud storage service ensures they will be accessible from non-office devices. Don’t neglect security and use a Virtual Private Network to protect your work and data.
Keep a Routine
Establish and maintain consistent working hours. A morning sequence (including getting dressed) is important. If you’re free to set your own timing, there are apps available to help you discover your peak productivity times and track your output. Your routine should also include real breaks, but be disciplined and avoid rabbit holes. Limit your exposure to distractions to non-work time. It’s also helpful to have an “end of work day” ritual to mark the transition between work time and personal time. Attention can easily diffuse across multiple demands (personal, professional, family, etc.) and end up too thin to be useful in any area. A clear start and end to work defines and directs your time and energy.
Spatially and conceptually, boundaries are important in this situation. Working out of a dedicated space in your home helps you psychologically shift to and stay in work mode. It also helps anyone with whom you are cohabitating to recognize and support times of concentration that shouldn’t be interrupted. Even if it’s only the difference between a bedroom desk and kitchen table, designating one of those as The Work Station (and keeping other spaces as social, sleeping, non-work areas) helps trigger focus and intention.
It’s also helpful to set some ground rules with your colleagues. While the comforts of home can distract from work, that vector can be reversed and impinge on your presence during personal time. Working from home doesn’t imply 24/7 availability, especially when domestic pressures might be intensifying around school closures!
Accountability can feel vague and remote corresponding to the drift of normalcy and your colleagues. Being clear about deliverables and schedules helps sustain everyone’s understanding and work ethic. “In a remote work environment you’re entirely judged by the volume, quality, and timeliness of your output. In this way, remote work is a great equalizer, and you may find it gives you an opportunity to shine,” says Kari DePhillips, CEO of The Content Factory and cohost of the Workationing podcast. It may be helpful to be super organized about your goals and tasks. Creating daily and weekly lists and action plans provides useful structure in a time when structure feels confused.
Communication is Crucial
Relatedly, clear and frequent communication is imperative. To define, manage, and meet expectations, managers need to provide clear directions and check in often to make sure teams have the tools they need. Team members need to share often to update colleagues on progress, needs, changes, etc. Remember that tone is often lost over emails, so try to stay positive.