By Kinga Dąbrowska
Work from home (WFH) requires a high level of self-organization and self-motivation skills from each one of us. For some institutions organizing WFH is not a new practice, but many of us will experience this for the first time.
We decided to briefly summarize the essentials of working remotely adjusting it to the needs of employees and employers, based on various materials available online
Tips for Employees:
- Choose a Good Space for Work
Work where you work and sleep where you sleep. Make the space inviting and comfortable so you don’t mind spending time there, but try and keep it away from any areas of distraction like the television or children’s play space. Don’t skip your morning routine! For your hygiene’s sake and for your sense of productivity, take the shower as usual and put on some clothes, do not stay in the pj’s. Treating your workday like you would if you were going to an office ensures you’re up, dressed, and well fed all day long. It will push you into the right mindset.
- Get Some Structure in Place – Including Breaks
Structure your workday by planning out which tasks need to take the priority and how many hours you are going to spend on each one of them. Also schedule in time to take breaks as you would do in the office. No one works for 8 hours straight: get up from your chair, look out of the window; your eyes will thank you. Why not also have lunch with someone, reenergise through social (even online) connections. Taking breaks is a key part of productivity, but it’s very easy to skip them when you’re alone. To avoid sitting during the whole working day, try building regular “required” breaks into your environment:
- If you like listening to music play vinyl throughout your workday at a distance from your desk so that you need to get up and flip the record every half hour.
- Leave your phone in the kitchen so you have to get up and check it when it pings (providing that you’ve managed your notifications so it doesn’t ring every five minutes!)
- Don’t keep snacks or drinks within easy reach.
- Set Boundaries
This one is the key. Set boundaries between work and your personal life. Stick to specific times to start and finish work because you’ll be tempted to get more done. If you’re using the same laptop for personal stuff, consider using a different browser for work and log off all apps once you’re done. And if possible, designate a space for work, like a desk or a kitchen table. Don’t turn your whole space into your office. If possible do not use bedroom for your work.
- Communicate Like Never Before
When you are working remotely, what you are required to do can be lost in text translation and things may not be as clear as if you were discussing a project in person. That means more effort needs to be placed on communication on a whole. Use various communication platforms to speak to your colleagues e.g. skype, zoom, messanger, whats up. If internet connection allows, turn on your camera to make it more natural (non-verbal communication)
- Track Your Progres
6. Avoid Distractions
With no colleagues or managers around to check in on you, it’s easy to become distracted. There are always other household errands that need doing, but you are best to put those off until after your structured working hours, as if you were not at home.
7. Take Accountability
If you are unable to complete something remotely, be accountable and transparent about it. Communicate that with your supervisor
Tips for Employers:
- Set clear expectations
Communication is a key. Be clear. Remember that for staff working for the first time from home, it can be almost like starting new job. Be patient to allow people to adjust to new situation.
- Monitor progress
Rather than micromanage your remote workers, inadvertently going against what they desire in a more flexible work-life balance, you need to trust that your staff will complete the tasks they have been assigned to the best of their ability within the time needed.
- Communication is a 2-Way Street
Both parties need to have effective communication techniques for this to be beneficial. Learning new ways of communication can take time.
- Give Examples of How You Like the Work to Be Completed
Let your remote staff how you truly like to work. If you prefer regular updates to weekly updates then explain that to them.
- Find appropriate software to support the work:
- Project management— Consider using project management tools such as Trello, Monday, Paymo, Google Tasks, Microsoft Planner, Asana or BaseCamp. This will help everyone stay on track and avoid unnecessary emails. If you need to track your time, try Toggl. Be patient as it takes time to implement such tools.
- Fast communication— Slack or MS Teams are great communication channels. If you choose Google Drive or Dropbox, go for Slack. If you go for a Microsoft solution for your files, stay there with their integrated MS Teams.
- Video calls— Skype, Google Hangouts, Viber and Zoom or Webex are all great apps. Make sure everyone in your organization has the same tool and all teams share each other’s user names.
- Try to not introduce too many new software at the same time.
We hope the tips were helpful and you will be able to implement at least some of them during your daily work routine. For the very end we are serving you some humour for the troublesome times:
Some more useful resources:
- Toptal: Tips for remote working – The suddenly remote playbook
- Cotswold co: remote working guide – Working from Home: A Guide to Creating a Healthy and Productive Workspace
1] Sources used to prepare these tips:
This communication activity has received financial support from the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation “EaSI” (2014-2020). For further information please consult: http://ec.europa.eu/social/easi