8 Tips for Working Remotely During the Coronavirus Outbreak
by Patricia Lundy
More and more organizations are assessing the risk of coronavirus contagion in their workplaces. In addition to canceling or postponing events, companies in high-risk areas are encouraging employees to work from home until the outbreak subsides.
If you suddenly find yourself working from home, you may be faced with new challenges that you haven’t faced in the workplace. As someone who’s worked from home for over five years, I thought I’d share my best practices for a productive work day, no office required.
1. Establish a Morning Routine
You likely have a morning routine that gets you ready before your commute to the office—and you may think for remote work, you can just roll out of bed. I’m here to tell you that this is not the best way to begin your work day.
Your morning routine sets the tone for your day. Whether it’s brewing coffee and cooking a homemade breakfast before you sit down to your computer, going for an early morning run, or catching up on household chores, make sure to carve out a little time for yourself before your work day begins. You’ll feel refreshed and will be able to focus on your most pressing tasks and projects.
2. Set-Up and Personalize Your Remote Work Station
Your desk at the office has the vital items you need for work, plus a photo of your dog, family, and maybe a succulent or two. It’s your personal space, and feels like home. Creating a dedicated space for work outside of the office is just as important. It helps you get into the right mindset. Plus, if you like your desk/dedicated work environment, then you’re more likely to stay focused.
To that end, make sure your office space is somewhere relatively quiet, without any interruptions. Blasting the TV or getting interrupted by your child or roommate does not make for the most productive work day. If needed, have a discussion with your household members to ensure they respect your work hours, and that when you’re at your desk, it’s just like you’re in the office.
3. Stick to Your Office Schedule
Remote work offers flexibility, yes. But to be a productive team member or manager, sticking to your normal office hours is best—that means if you’re normally in the office 9-6, you should be working 9-6 from home. This establishes a sense of dependability and cohesion: your team or manager will know they can reach you during these same hours, and this helps to unify a disparate team. It also helps when it comes to scheduling meetings—read on in my next tip!
4. Utilize Your Online Calendar
Your company likely uses a productivity suite such as G Suite or Outlook to streamline communications with team members. One thing that becomes even more important when you’re a remote employee is your calendar—the one that your team members have access to.
In the office, your calendar may have just had your meetings or luncheons, but now as a remote employee, it’s useful to fill it out as much as you can. As a team member, this can give your manager insight into how you’ll be using your time—and it also helps you utilize your time effectively as you schedule your at-home work day. As a manager, this gives your team an idea of when you will be available.
Keeping your calendar up to date also helps keep scheduling meetings a breeze!
5. Set-Up Quick Check-Ins with Team Members/Your Manager
In the office, your associates are able to speak to you directly if they need to, and the same goes for the reverse: it’s easy to ask your manager a quick question, or catch-up over coffee or lunch when you’re both in the office together.
When working remotely, it’s important for managers to have built-in time dedicated to team members on their calendar—this ensures that meetings, deadlines, and other projects don’t get in the way of open lines of communication. For some, a quick daily phone check-in at the beginning or end of each day will work best; others may choose to do this once or twice a week. This also helps to keep up your rapport with team members who you may not be seeing as often as you’d like, and allows them the valuable time with their manager that they need.
6. Take Advantage of UCC Technologies
Your colleagues and manager aren’t getting a lot of face-to-face time with you if you’re working remotely. The good news is that unified communications and collaboration (UCC) technologies can make up for the difference. During meetings with your team, turn on your video camera—don’t be shy! Aragon feels that video meetings are 40% more effective than meetings that just use voice alone. Plus, you’ll get to show off your cool home office!
If your company or team needs assistance putting a UCC strategy into place quickly, contact Aragon for a consultation.
7. Take Effective Breaks
In addition to your lunch hour, allowing for a few 10 minutes breaks during your work day is a great way to keep your mind focused. Brew a cup of tea, catch up on the Instagram stories you missed, or get up and do a few stretches—just like you’d do in the office. After intense periods of focus, these little mind breaks will serve as a huge productivity boost.
8. Continue Team Traditions
In the office, you might have donut Mondays, or team spirit Fridays, or any other sort of weekly tradition that makes the work day just a little bit more special. As a remote employee, I love to take part in these traditions from my home office, and I’d encourage you to do the same. It makes you feel more connected to the team because you’re all participating together.
If donuts are the thing on Mondays, everyone can show up to the morning meeting with a donut on their video call. Especially during a stressful time such as the coronavirus outbreak, these traditions really help to boost morale.
Working from home presents its own unique challenges that can be quite unfamiliar if you’re used to working in an office, surrounded by colleagues. The sudden change in scenery due to the coronavirus outbreak can take some getting used to, but with these tips, you can set yourself up for remote work success, and have fun while you’re doing it!