5 Tips for Working Remotely
The team at Raven Creative has encountered just about every working scenario there is. Remote, in-house, agency, consultant…you name it, we can speak to it. What have we learned from this breadth of experiences? That each offers its own unique benefits and challenges.
In a quickly-changing, on-demand world, businesses are increasingly preparing for and investigating options that allow their employees to work remotely. Whether your company was an early adopter or you’ve just dipped your toe in the work from home waters, the key to success in working remotely is to have a plan.
Here are 5 tips to help set you up for success while working remotely.
1. Be intentional about your environment.
If you are working from home, start by choosing a designated workspace that will help you stay focused. To protect your space, set ground rules with family members or roommates to help manage expectations that your physical presence in your home does not mean you are available for frequent chit-chat or innocuous questions that can wait until after work hours.
Knowing your own personal vices, remove potential distractions and reduce clutter to help you stay focused:
- Delete shortcuts to social media apps to keep them out of sight.
- Pack a lunch as if you were going to the office if the proximity to your kitchen tempts you with a mid-day gourmet chopping fest.
- Get “ready” for your day and dress in something that makes you feel like the best version of yourself. If fuzzy slippers and a bathrobe make you long for your couch or tempt you to hop back into bed, opt for attire that you would typically wear to the office.
2. Ensure off-site access to key applications.
Take a virtual walk through your typical workday and make a list of every tool, app, program and supply you use. Take your list home with you for some due diligence; test out every item on the list to ensure you are able to access it remotely.
For the current tools that you cannot physically access or take home with you, discuss the specific roadblock with your supervisor and develop an action plan with either an alternative or a direct solution to the access issue.
3. Prioritize proactive and responsive communication.
You know what they say about assumptions… that goes double for remote working arrangements. Never assume that someone knows something or that you are correctly interpreting something that feels unclear. Practically speaking, this translates to restating next steps and who is specifically owning those steps, before the end of every conversation.
Both proactive and highly responsive communication are champions of clarity and help prevent confusion and wasted resources. Cloud-based software tools like Slack (instant messaging platform), Loom (screen video recording), HubSpot (marketing CRM software), Asana (work management platform), Airtable (spreadsheet/database workflow software) and Zoom (video communication platform) allow coworkers to stay in close communication and provide a multitude of ways to tailor the user experience for maximum efficiency. Here are some examples:
- Schedule 15-minute team huddles/alignment meetings a couple times a week to check in on progress and collectively troubleshoot any items that have you stuck.
- If you are having a conversation about an assignment with a coworker via instant messaging in Slack, you can create a task for yourself in Asana directly from that conversation.
- If the need arises to train a team member on a specific task, do a video chat and screen share through Zoom, or record a Loom video and share it in a task tutorial Airtable base for posterity.
4. Be respectful and responsible.
While this one might feel like common sense, a change in environment can facilitate a change in demeanor and mindset. If you’re prone to out of sight out of mind tendencies, be intentional about how your actions are affecting others who work with you:
- Don’t take big bites of salad (or food in general) while on a conference call.
- If your dog barks when the mail is delivered, default your line to mute when you’re not directly engaging with someone during a meeting.
- Be on time for meetings, and silence alarms, ringers and notifications that distract yourself and others.
5. Write out a plan for your day.
Working remotely takes discipline. Consider starting each workday by making a list of the top three items you need to accomplish that day and list out specific tasks for each item that will get you there. If your list reveals more urgent work than hours in your workday, ask for clarity on what to prioritize.
Schedule in a lunch break and be sure to get up and stretch/walk around a bit every hour or so to help keep you fresh.
If you are prone to distraction, allocate an estimated time commitment for each task and use a timer to help keep you on track. This can be adjusted throughout the day, but the extra accountability can help you keep your focus.
Overall, flexible arrangements like working remotely are a privilege, and when done right, can reap substantial benefits for companies and employees alike.