Tips for individuals and teams working remotely
As you set yourself up to temporarily work from home, here are some general self-care and communications tips to help support your transition:
- Acknowledge this is different. Working from home can be a big transition. You might feel a combination of loneliness, isolation, stress, frustration, anxiousness, the inability to get motivated, or — on the other hand — relieved, relaxed, energized or productive. It’s all normal. Any transition takes time to get used to, so try to be easy on yourself.
- Take scheduled breaks. Try setting an alarm to get up and stretch every hour or so. Walk around your home or around the block. Move to a separate area, away from your computer and current workspace, to eat lunch. Breaking up the day and moving your body enables you to refresh and can increase your productivity when you return to your work.
- Protect your time. People tend to work more from home because it’s harder to “leave” work. Set “in office” hours and communicate these with both colleagues and family.
- Protect your workspace. Talk to family members or roommates about the hours you are working from home and the ground rules during those hours. Assume that anything that can interrupt you will interrupt you. Use signs or symbols for children to understand you can’t be with them right now.
- Turn on a white noise machine or app. This really helps to reduce noise distractions around your work area.
- Pay attention to ergonomics. Our home workstations are not likely to be ideal. Use the most comfortable chair you can with back support. Be creative and look for ways to vary your position. Laptop computers allow you to be mobile. Most importantly, listen to your body. If you begin to feel discomfort while working, don’t wait. Make adjustments right away. Reach out to your manager and let them know you are experiencing issues. There are resources to help you.
- Make the best of this situation. When the weather is nice, do conference calls while outside. Take the dog out for a walk at lunch time. Use your breaks to talk with your family. These are bonuses of working from home. Enjoy them for your mental health.
- Dress and groom professionally. Your morning prep routine plays a large role in determining your mindset for the day. You’ll find you’re more productive when you dress for the day.
- Overcommunicate. Stay connected with team members and colleagues. Share information.
- Managers, tell your team how they can reach you. Most important is telling your team specifically how you want them to communicate with you. Don’t assume they know.
- Tell your colleagues when they can reach you. The more guidance and boundaries you provide, the fewer misunderstandings will occur and the more smoothly work can stay on track.
- Note your project progress. Remote workers need to be especially proactive and alert colleagues to progress on longer-term goals. For instance, you might send a daily email with a list of projects that have advanced that day.
- Resolve issues quickly with a phone call. Email, text, instant message (IM) and other written methods of communication are prone to misunderstandings. When you sense this is happening, be quick to pick up the phone to resolve issues.
- Keep up more casual communication habits. If you normally catch up with colleagues in person before a meeting, do the same before dialing in to a group conference call. Try to follow the same rituals and habits to maintain relationships and a sense of normalcy.