Like many workplaces across the world, Watershed has temporarily closed its office doors and opted to work from home as a result of COVID-19. But unless you’ve spent time working remotely, it might be more difficult than you realize. And thanks to our company’s flexible work schedule, we already have experience when it comes to best practices for working remotely and staying connected.
7 Tips for Working at Home
At first glance, working from home might seem pretty enticing. After all, you can work in your pajamas all day (or several days if you’re really dedicated). And while you don’t have to worry about coworkers unexpectedly dropping by your desk or smelling someone’s lunch lingering in the office hallway, you’re faced with a new set of potential distractions and obstacles. To help those of you who might be new remote work, we've compiled a list tips and tricks—including a few from our friends at Rustici Software.
1) Maintain your routine.
If your normal workday routine is, “wake up, shower, get dressed, and drive to work,” follow that routine as close as possible. This will help make working from home feel normal. And pay extra attention to the “get dressed” part. As we said earlier, working in your pajamas may sound tempting, but getting ready as if you were going to the office helps put you in the right mindset. This doesn’t mean wearing a suit and tie, but save those pjs for sleeping.
2) Exercise on a regular basis.
Speaking of routines, it’s easy to put on a few extra pounds when you’re not commuting. So try replacing the time you’d normally be traveling to and from the office with some exercise. And eating well and staying hydrated is equally important.
3) Have a dedicated workspace.
Create a comfortable space that’s conducive to staying focused and working uninterrupted for eight hours a day. Most of us don’t have office chairs or desks at home, so use what you have at home to create a space that’s both comfortable and ergonomic (i.e. as tempting as it sounds, it’s probably best—especially for your back—not to work in your bed or on a couch). And, you don’t want to start associating your “relax-zones” with work zones. So it’s important to have spaces dedicated to switching off.
Tip: Not sure where to start? Sparefoot has a few ideas to keep in mind as you set up your home workspace.
4) Be extra communicative.
As remote workers, we miss out on all the hallway conversations and lunchtime chats, so Slack is our way of keeping track of what’s going on, sharing news, and simply reminding each other we’re available. It’s important to share your successes, stresses, and stories as much as possible—whether you use Slack, Google chat, text, or the phone.
5) Schedule and track your work.
Delineating work time can be difficult when you’re not in the office. This has risks on both sides—both life bleeding into work and work bleeding into life. Even if you don’t normally keep timesheets, record your time to not only ensure you’re doing a fair amount of work for your organization, but also keeping a good balance between your professional and personal lives. (See relax zones comment above.)
6) Recognize the limits of chat.
We transfer a lot of information through visual and audible cues, and text-based communication can result in misinterpretation and a loss of context. So use video calls for important conversations, and schedule at least one video call with your coworkers per week. And when you are communicating via text, remember there are humans on the other side of the chat.
Tip: Here are four ways Zapier suggests to keep context when using chat for remote communication.
7) Do video calls well.
Treat video calls as you would in-person conversations. Take calls in a quiet place so you (and everyone else) can stay engaged in the conversation. Before starting a video call, ensure your audio and internet connection are working properly. And when you’re in a group call, press the mute button when you’re not speaking.
Tip: With video calls and virtual meetings on the rise, consider these tips from Jo Cook in her article, “3 Digital Body Language Tips You Must Focus On Right Now.”
Looking for more helpful information about working remotely? Here are a few resources that might come in handy.
- OpenSesame is offering free courses about coronavirus preparedness and remote working.
- Check out advice from experienced remote workers at stackoverflow.
How do you work from home?
Now that we’ve shared our recommendations, we’d love to hear from you! Use the comments to share your advice and lessons learned when you’re not in the office. Or tweet us a pic @watershedLRS of your home office so we can compliment your style.