The Rulebook for Remote Work

March 16, 2020 Lianne Jacobs

Remote work is the future of work.  It is estimated that more than 40% of the world’s working population will be working remotely by 2022, and in highly developed countries like the United States, that percentage may be closer to 75% [1].  But despite the increasing prevalence of remote work, it has its obstacles. Without the usual structure to one’s day that comes with working in an office – a morning commute or a coffee break with a colleague – it can be challenging to get into the remote work frame of mind.  Whether you’ve been working from home for years or you’re new to remote work, we can all use a refresher on how to make the most of our workdays.  

Test your equipment

First and foremost, make sure you can access your work remotely and securely.  Check to ensure that you have access to your email and all communication channels your organization uses.  Make sure you have access to shared servers, databases, video conferencing technology, and any other relevant platforms that you use during a typical workday.  Also make sure that you have a backup plan in case your home WiFi internet connection fails, like connecting through your phone’s hotspot. Work with your I.T. department to troubleshoot any issues sooner rather than later so you can ensure a seamless transition to remote work without disruption.

Maintain your routine

Even though your working environment may have changed, your morning routine shouldn’t.  Act as though you were going to the office – get dressed, eat breakfast, walk your dog – whatever you usually do in the morning.  Also be sure to wake up at the same time each day so that you stay in your routine and get optimal rest.

Have a designated work space

While it may be tempting to stay in bed, slouchy positions aren’t great for work mode.  Be thoughtful about where you choose to work, and maybe even designate some places, like your bedroom, as a work-free zone to ensure that you can step away from work and relax at the end of the day.  Ideally, work at a table or a desk where you can sit upright with both feet on the ground with good posture to best replicate your in-office experience. Keep your water bottle nearby, a notepad and pen, and whatever else you usually have at your desk.  You should feel like you are “at work.” 

Take breaks

Step away from your workspace for lunch and short breaks throughout the day.  Working from home can get lonely, so make sure to have some social interaction throughout your day.  Try scheduling a virtual coffee break with a colleague – just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you have to miss out on catching up with your coworkers.

Communicate often

Communication is key when you work remotely.  Have regular check-ins with your team to provide progress updates, discuss any roadblocks, or just to brainstorm.  Take advantage of all forms of communication we have at our fingertips – from emails, to instant messaging, to videoconferencing – to  communicate with your team.  

Set boundaries, but be flexible

Set boundaries with the people you live with, whether that’s your roommate or your family – just because you are now home, doesn’t mean you are available.  If possible, work in a room with a door you can shut to keep out the distractions. However, if you also need to care for young children who may be at home, you may need to be flexible.  Make sure children have plenty of activities at their disposal, such as books, puzzles, and toys. Think about using video calls to continue learning opportunities, like tutoring or music classes.  Speak with your manager about what is feasible during this time and what adjustments may need to be made. Propose flexible hours, which would allow you to work around your children’s schedules.

Leave work at the end of the day

When your work life and home life so easily bleed together, it can be easy to overwork without an obvious stopping point.  Make a point to finish your day, close your computer and do something else – whether that’s going for a run, playing with your kids, or cooking dinner.  

With more people working remotely than ever before, it’s essential that we identify best practices for getting our jobs done no matter where we are.  And don’t forget: Having a well-structured workday is key, whether we’re in the office or we’re logging in from home.

 

[1]. International Data Council, U.S. Mobile Worker Population Forecast, 2018-2022.


 

Lianne Jacobs, Product Analyst, has a master’s degree in public health from Yale University. She is the only indoor cycling instructor who can’t ride a bike. She enjoys traveling the world, laughing at her own jokes, and tricking her husband into eating baked goods made with hidden vegetables.

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