We’re almost two months into this new normal of remote work, and it’s anyone’s guess when it’ll end. For some of you (like me), this is business as usual, but many of you are trying to adjust in your new makeshift home offices. For those in the latter group, are you starting to realize just how accurate this meme is?
Sure, saying you work from home might sound luxurious, and sometimes it is. But it comes with its share of challenges, too, like the need to balance your work life and your personal life. Since Mediasite enables anywhere, anytime communication, fittingly, there are employees located around the world who work from home year-round. I’m one of them, and I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. Without further ado, here are my 12 tips for working remotely:
- Make a routine and stick to it. Set your alarm and exercise first thing. It’s so energizing. Don’t let a lack of gym options be your excuse. There are so many streaming services available to get your blood pumping. Find a class on YouTube or see if your gym is recording virtual classes. Short on the exercise equipment needed? Don’t worry – lots of classes use body weight or whatever you have on hand. I can neither confirm nor deny that I used cans of spaghetti sauce as make-shift weights early on in quarantine (but Amazon tells me my barbells are on their way!).
- Get ready for the day. State the obvious? I mean don’t stay in your yoga pants or pajamas all day. Getting dressed instantly makes you feel more put together, and then you’ll be ready for any video call that pops up. No more need for that post-it note covering your camera. You won’t need to use the lame excuse: ‘That’s weird, my webcam isn’t working.’ Come on, we’ve all done it.
- Plan out your day. At the end of each work day, spend a few minutes planning out your next one. Block off time in one-to two-hour periods on your calendar to get projects done. And don’t forget about breaks and lunch.
- Create a designated work space. Find a quiet place and make it your home office. Keep it clean and put items in there that make you happy. You’re spending eight+ hours per day in there, so get some fresh flowers, light a candle. If it’s a mess, you’ll be more anxious. Speaking of work spaces …
- Don’t work in the same place you relax. You don’t want to associate your comfy couch or bed as the place where you poured over complicated spreadsheets do you? Talk about the stuff of nightmares.
- Set ground rules for people in your space if you’re not home alone. We’ve all seen pets, children, roommates and spouses show up unannounced in video calls. It can provide a moment of levity, but you don’t want to be that person all the time. Make sure you lay out your work schedule to people you live with and let them know when you have meetings, especially if you’ll be on video.
- Use video. Get face time with daily check ins. It’s amazing how much more connected you’ll feel to your teammates. You could set up a plan to meet at the virtual water cooler via Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Zoom or whatever you use. I hear from our clients first-hand every day how video is the most engaging and interactive way to unite dispersed workforces.
- Take breaks. Have an actual lunch, go for a quick walk around your neighborhood or building (if it’s safe to do so) for fresh air.
- Get up and move. It’s amazing what a change of scenery can do for productivity. You may be cooped up, but get up from your desk and move to the kitchen table, sit by a window, enjoy your porch. Fresh perspective sparks new creative ideas and sometimes that’s literally all it takes.
- Overcommunicate. You’re in your own little bubble. Don’t let people wonder what ever happened to you. Tell your colleagues what you’re working on and ask for help when needed.
- Start a running thread with coworkers. Call it something fun and keep in touch throughout the day – even if it’s just to share a joke, an amusing gif or complain about something your spouse is doing. For example, my husband recently dipped a chicken cutlet into a jar of mayonnaise, and it was appalling.
- Turn off. This is the hardest. It’s easy to work through the entire day. Since you don’t have to deal with a commute, you could just work one more hour. Before you know it, the whole night is gone. Sign off, close the computer, make the long walk to your kitchen for dinner. Don’t turn that laptop on again until morning.
And when the day is over, you’ll probably need some ideas to occupy your time. We’ve compiled some inspiration for you. Check out our list of what to listen to, read and ponder during quarantine. Read it here.