7 Best Practices for Working Remotely
Written by the Upstate Warrior Solution Employment Program Manager Brig Berthold
I know most of us are new to working remotely. It can be a difficult transition, but I want to help.
Prior to coming to UWS, I worked remotely for about three years. I know many of us are suddenly trying to remain engaged while tripping over our kids, pets, and/or spouses who are SO HAPPY we are home. Here are a few of the best practices I developed to be successful.
I hope this helps.
Keep the Same Schedule
Wake up at the same time you would if you needed to be at the office by 8:15 a.m. Go about your morning routine the same way (or as close as possible).
Dress For Work
I know. You are not going to like this one. But I am telling you. You will be more productive if you feel work-appropriate. The way we dress has TONS of influence over how we feel. It is understandable to be pumped to wear your PJs, but most of us cannot get as much done that way.
Maximize Your Commute Time
Now that most of us are not driving to the office, we do not have the opportunity to “spin up.” If you are not careful, you may be immediately stressed by the onslaught of emails you begin receiving around 8:30 a.m.
The best way to combat this is to be intentional about your commute time. Take 10-minutes to sit quietly, close your eyes, clear your mind, and set your intention for the day.
And, it takes less time than most of our commutes.
As I mentioned before, your loved ones and fur babies are so excited you are home. They are also bored out of their minds. They have never been stuck at home either.
Here is the line I used with my spouse: “Just because I’m accessible, doesn’t mean I’m available.”
It sounds harsh but if you start immediately, everyone will get wise and respect the boundary. However, if you do not hold firm, neither will they.
If it’s possible, pick somewhere you can isolate yourself. A car is a great option.
Be Careful of Over-isolating and Over-working
Wow, this one is hard.
You’re at your desk, in the spare bedroom, and things are quiet. You realize you have been hunched over that laptop for about 3-hours…straight. You start to ache, and so you decide to take a break. You leave your sanctuary, walk to the fridge, grab something bad for you, and slink back to that dark room that hurt you. This will kill your productivity.
Instead, use the Pomodoro Technique:
Decide on a task. ONE TASK. Then, set a timer for 25-minutes. (Click here is a free web-based version). Once the timer yells at you, stop. Take a 5-minute break. (Walk around the house, use the facilities, drink water, meditate, or stretch one-muscle). Decide on another task, set a 25-minute timer, rinse, and repeat.
Every 4 cycles, take a 10-minute break. Getting outdoors is huge so I recommend a walk around the block or apartment parking lot.
This is a big one. You cannot bump into someone at the office anymore. Luckily, UWS has the Teams App. That’s the perfect space for a quick question and answer.
Download the app onto your phone (or another app your place of employment uses). That way, when your kid is demanding you watch Frozen 2 with them again, you can still be productive from the couch. Sometimes, it is nice to be away from the laptop, which causes your posture to slowly kill you. Bending your head over a phone is so much better. Right?
Download Microsoft Outlook (or another app your place of employment uses) onto your phone. You will be amazed how much you can accomplish with a quick email reply. Make sure you have your signature updated on mobile. It is different and does not transfer from your desktop version. Mine reads:
Employment Program Manager | UWS
Sent from the road. Please pardon the short reply.
Be careful not to assume people know what you are doing. The UWS leadership team came down with some well-defined tasks in the last few days. Make it easy for your supervisor and inform them of your intentions and accomplishments.
Depending on styles, you, or they, may want a daily accountability meeting. Maybe every other day. Be careful to not leave this open-ended. Call your supervisor, be honest about your situation, listen to their concerns, and get on the same page. Do this early and fewer things will slip through the cracks.
I hope everyone benefited from these tips. I know working from home is wicked hard at first, but we can do this. We can remain effective and continue serving people who really need our help. Together, we are stronger!