Habits for Success: Thoughts From a Remote Work Veteran

“I’m working remote, now what?” For many of us, this is the new normal. Aside from the technology and environmental challenges this can present, there are cultural and psychological hurdles that need to be overcome. I’ve personally worked remotely for the last decade, and I’ve learned a few things that can help make your transition to remote work successful.  

Your life needs a routine. Create a plan and stick to it.  

  • Getting up at the same time of day and starting and ending your office day will create a definition in your life. Just because you’re working from home does not mean you need to be online and accessible at all hours. Whatever your scheduled routine is, treat your time as a scarce resource and learn to prioritize your tasks. I use the Pomodoro Technique. If you’re not familiar with the Pomodoro Technique, it’s a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. Learn more here.  
  • Dress for success. Even if you’re not going to the office, keep the routine of getting dressed and looking presentable for video calls. I know it’s tempting to stay in your pajamas, but you’ll feel better at the end of the day.  Getting dressed also allows you to take breaks outside to get some fresh air and recharge. 
  • Manage family distractions. Just like your routine, it’s important to have a routine for your loved ones and pets. Schedule when you home school your kids, and when you take your dog for a walk, etc. Loved ones will become accustomed to the routine and know you have a schedule to be with them.  

Have a dedicated workspace 

  • Find an area you can convert to a quiet workspace. You may be on more conference calls in the weeks ahead and will want to minimize distractions and potentially embarrassing moments. Your kitchen table is a bad idea. From experience not having an organized workspace and having to constantly look for misplaced items will make you less productive and frustrated. Plus, this is often a high traffic area in many homes, making it more susceptible to distraction. 
  • Standing promotes clearer thought. I found that standing while working makes for a healthy back, improves focus, and makes me feel better. If you choose standing invest in a standing desk and floormate.  
  • Turn off devices and applications that will distract you. Close email if you need to focus. Exit applications and mute alerts on your computer and silence your cell phone. If you’re using Windows 10 check out Focus Assist built into Windows. Focus Assist allows you to avoid distracting notifications when you need to stay focused and is set by default to activate automatically under certain conditions.  

Healthy Eating 

  • Don’t make your kitchen your workplace. Staying in the vicinity of your refrigerator will not help you stay healthy. If you do need to snack while working be mindful, and eat nutritious food. 
  • Do not eat where you work. I know you want to stay connected but step away from your computer. Eat lunch with your family, enjoy lunch outside. You’ll feel better and be more focused once you go back to work.  

Managing Stress and Anxiety  

  • Avoid being isolated from your coworkers. In the age of social distancing, we do not need to stop communicating with colleagues. I’ve found I need to make time to stay connected with coworkers. Just showing up to meetings does not replace one-on-ones. There’s no water cooler at home so calling and chatting is the best way to stay connected. Think about personal check-ins, setting up a life event calendar to share with coworkers (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.,), and sharing successes with your team. A healthy and cohesive team will make working from home productive. 
  • Stuck trying to figure out a solution to a problem? This is universal no matter where you work but being at home can provide you the benefit of less office distraction. The best thing to do is to stop and take a break. Change your focus and go for a walk. If you can’t get outside, consider using the Calm app. Don’t worry, your sub-conscience will continue to figure out a solution while you take a break. Many times, simply clearing your head and resetting can often kickstart your brain. 
  • Lastly don’t forget to have fun. Have casual calls with your coworkers, tell jokes, share stories and remember, we will all get through this together.  

I hope that you settle into your new routine, stay productive and remain healthy. When the current situation passes you might find you prefer working remotely than in the office. At Wellforce we believe in a better and healthier way of work. We’d like to help your organization work better remotely.   

Click here to discuss your remote working strategy and to learn more about Wellforce’s remote end-user training and support programs.

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