These are strange days indeed. With the Coronavirus getting into full swing in to community spread infections, many business are making the transition to remote working. If you are in an industry where you are lucky enough to be able to consider such a thing, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Here are some key values to uphold to make the leap successfully.
This is the biggest. Without trust this cannot work. We have teammates, colleagues and clients who depend on us. Now is the time to step up and be there for each other. Trust is slow to earn and easy to lose so it doesn’t take much to feel like people are taking advantage and that is every company's worst fear.
Here are a few best practices that may be incorporated to help facilitate the feeling that you are still together even when apart:
- Daily Team Stand-ups this is a great way to feel connected and hear what everyone has on the go. It’s also a good time to prioritize your tasks.
- Notification of AFK, lateness, appointments etc. Let people know where you are or if you are unavailable (AFK Away From Keyboard). Avoid the frustration of someone trying to reach you when they can’t.
- Live feeds Some team leaders may like you to have a live video feed up and running. Not to keep tabs but to provide a bit of that human connection.
At the end of the day it all boils down to "act like an adult, be treated like one"
Being at home can be full of distractions, barking dogs, video games, messy kitchens and screaming kids (hypothetically). I believe you need to be in the right headspace to work. Finding a quiet place where you can shut out the rest of the world as best you can is critical. Make sure you have conversations with your partner or kids (if they are old enough) about how this is still a workday for you and that the family will have to work together to make sure you are still being as professional as you can. The more you stick to your schedule the easier it will be for others to understand.
Ever say to yourself “if I answered all the emails I got today I’d do nothing else”? It’s easy to get sucked into the never-ending stream of questions or conversations. This stream will likely turn into a river when everyone is working remotely. It’s very important to find a way to structure this. Here are a few hints:
- Set aside “heads down” time and put it into your status
- Flag emails you want to respond to and answer them all at once at an appropriate time
- Do not "reply all” unless it really does apply to everyone
- Craft subject lines so people can easily scan them and know what the email is about
- Ease up on the inevitable chain of animated gifs in the general chat knowing that some people will get pinged each time
- On that note, manage your alerts to make sure you are alerted to the channels you need to know about and not on the others
Treat it like a typical work day.
Get up in the morning. Set your alarm, put on pants, have a lunch hour, have coffee breaks. Routine is the enemy of chaos. As someone who has worked from home for years in the past, I know first hand that it’s easy to start slipping more and more until you find yourself waking up at 10, having a 2 hour breakfast and not really settling down to work till 1. Set yourself a schedule and stick to it as best you can.
Bonus! Extra time
The good news for some of you who had a long commute is that you just gained all that time back!. You can use it to sleep longer of course which is important but also working out, meditation, podcasts or video learning etc.
Organization is key at this point. Being detail orientated is going to be a huge help as it’s easy to create chaos when everyone is doing their own thing.
- Start with a clean desktop - just like a dirty kitchen, every icon on your desktop is a distraction. A scattered thought not dealt with. Take 15 mins and clean it up.
- Name your files carefully. When saving files its more critical than ever to keep things carefully worded and in the right locations. If you are unsure, talk to IT.
- Use the right channels for communication. There are so many channels to communicate virtually it’s easy to lose threads of conversations. Determine the purpose for each channel such as Slack for chat, Trello for tasks, email for formal conversations, etc.
- Schedule your day - Write it out. If you don’t write it down you can’t plan it.
- Set your tasks - Check your tasks for the day and prioritize. A great tip I follow is star the one thing you absolutely have to accomplish that day and make sure that gets done.
We are all in this together
This statement has never been more true. Your teammates are counting on you to do your job and keep the company safe, your clients are counting on you to help them through challenging times. Remote working has to work - there is no other option!
Let’s prove to the world that nothing will stop us if we work together. This could be the most productive time in your company’s history. Let’s come out of this swinging and stronger than ever before.
Stay safe out there.