Ten Tips for Working Remote
Working a remote job may seem like a dream come true at first. However, after a time, the challenges become quite real. When Ryan Hoover of Product Hunt asked, “For those who work from home, what is your biggest frustration?”, he got over 1,500 responses. Those responses included problems such as missing passive conversation with teammates, leaf blowers, remembering to eat lunch, and having enough separation between work and home life.
These issues are not uncommon and though working remotely can have numerous benefits, the challenges sometimes make having a successful workday seem impossible. In this article, we are going to explore solutions to some of the complications that come with working from home.
- Unplug after work. When you work from the same place that you live your life, it can be hard to disconnect at the end of the workday. There will always be work to do and if you’re not careful, you can extend your workday into unhealthy hours, creating a routine that is detrimental to your success both at work and in your personal life. To avoid this trap, you can use your calendar to your advantage. Set meetings for yourself at the end of the day for things like going to the gym, making dinner or grocery shopping. This will break the spell of sitting in front of your computer and help you to get up and get going with the rest of your day.
- Create a “do not disturb” signal for your home office. Though it is easy to set your work account to “do not disturb”, it is much more difficult to have a signal like this for others living in your home. If you have problems with your family disturbing you during important work calls, create a signal to show them when you really can not be disturbed vs. when you are open to a chat or a break. Some remote employees use a literal do not disturb sign on their home office doors. If you do not have a home office, you can set a signal such as wearing your headset or tuning on a special lamp. Remind those you live with that when you are wearing your headset, you cannot be disturbed, but when you take it off, you are open to taking a moment to talk or complete a chore.
- Use core work hours with your team. When you are working remotely, you might have a team that spans the country. If there are several of you in different time zones, then there may be a need to create core working hours for your team. These are time spans during the day when everyone will be working at the same time, no matter what time each employee resides in. Even if there are only a few short hours in the day when this is possible, it is important to have some time carved out for collaboration. These core hours are key to being able to communicate and collaborate effectively and efficiently with your teammates.
- Follow a routine. Routines can enable you to get up and going every day with a little more ease. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day helps you to be refreshed and ready to conquer the workday. Additionally, creating a healthy morning routine before work can help you to get you in the right state of mind. Eating breakfast at around the same time every morning and getting showered and dressed before work goes a long way towards getting a fresh start to each day. Be sure to schedule time for yourself for lunch each day, as well.
- Use your vacation time. Though at first, working from home can feel like a vacation from the office, it can also quickly turn into a never-ending cycle. It is important to use your vacation time, even though you are not going into the office. Taking a week or even a few days off work can help you to reset your mind and remember to focus on what is important in your life. Most of us are not working in life or death jobs and our teams can do without us for a few days while we rest and recuperate from the daily grind.
- Have a technology backup plan. Whether it is an internet outage, a power problem or an issue with your computer, a technology backup plan can keep you up and running when challenges arise. Having a set place to go where you can use the internet is a must when working from home. Keep the phone number for tech support written down somewhere that you can easily access in case your computer or work phone encounter .
- Set up a regular coffee break time with your coworkers. Working from home can sometimes make you feel isolated, especially if you live alone. Feeling distant from your coworkers when you used to be able to rely on them for the occasional break or non-work-related small talk, can make you feel disconnected from your team. One thing that may help is setting up a 30-minute bi-weekly coffee break call with your team. This call would be for discussing anything you want that is not related to work. It could be sports, tv, family life or anything you like.
- Try to stay active during the workday. Getting up and moving around is essential in not only creating a healthier body, but also a healthier mind. Set reminders on your phone or computer to get up and do a small chore or take a walk around the block. Sitting in front of your desktop for too long can create back problems, eye strain and mental fatigue. By having a plan to keep moving around, you can set yourself up for success both mentally and physically.
- Sign up for virtual trade shows and education seminars. Staying in contact with other professionals in your field can be difficult when you are working remotely. Sign up for webinar courses or virtual trade shows to not only keep abreast of news in your profession, but also to focus on new learning opportunities when they become available. Many trade shows now offer free virtual attendance, so take advantage of those when possible.
- Assume positive intent. One big part of the company culture at Lumen is to assume positive intent. When you are dealing with a constant barrage of emails, IMs, and text messages, sometimes things get lost in translation, leaving you to assume that someone has reacted to something you said in a negative manner. Learning to think positively about these interactions and realize that you may have misread a message is key to helping you maintain encouraging and thoughtful communications with your co-workers.
By using these tips to keep both your work life and your personal life in perspective, you can create a more productive and meaningful work/life balance, maintain your career goals and keep your body and mind healthy and active.
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