10 Essential Tips for Remote Workers:
Work from Home Made Simple
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are asking their employees to work from home. For several employees, this is their first time working from home and, although many of them may have dreamed of working from home, they have quickly realized that the idea and the reality are drastically different.
The following are 10 essential tips for working from home.
1. Give Yourself Time to Adjust to the Change
Transitioning from an office environment to working from home can be difficult. You will need some time to adapt before you can be as productive as you were in the office environment. Working by yourself at home can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation, or stress. You may find it difficult to get energized and attack your work with gusto. It is okay to have these feelings. It’s a normal part of the adjustment, but with time you will adjust.
2. Set Aside Time for Yourself
A concern that some organizations have is that their employees will use their work time to do personal things, like clean the house, do laundry, or watch television. However, when you talk to people who are working from home, most will tell you that just the opposite is true. What used to be a nine to five workday is now a day that consists of work projects from the moment they wake up until they go to sleep. Therefore, it’s important for you to set aside time for yourself. There are office hours, so you can get phone calls and messages related to work, and then there is the time that sets aside for yourself.
3. Over Communicate
Communication is essential when everyone is working in the same office. Now that you and your team members are working individually, communication becomes more important. If you feel that you have information that a team member or someone else working on your project might need to know, share it.
This especially applies to those in management positions. Managers should let their teams know how to reach them and let the team know how they want everyone to communicate with each other. They should communicate all security concerns, such as whether information can be communicated without a VPN or if a secure connection is required for communication.
Even though employees are working from home they need to properly secure company data. OT Alliance's report showed that 93% of data breaches could have been avoided by following fundamental data security protocols. One of them is installing a highly encrypted VPN from a reputable company to secure your data and protect your privacy. Data breaches can damage a company permanently, so it’s important to take all necessary steps to secure all sensitive data.
4. Create a Dignified Space for Videoconferencing
Over the past few months, videoconferencing has become an indispensable form of communication. At the outset, it was acceptable to have a video conference from whatever quiet spot you could find in your home. Now, things have dragged on long enough that you should have a professional or plain background. Your room should be well lit, and your dress should be professional.
5. Encourage a Virtual Water Cooler
Since you are working remotely, you do not just chat with your co-workers like you used to. You will find that those informal chats and that human interaction were key to the overall functioning of your office. You can maintain that same contact by taking time to connect with others on your team. If your team is using an instant messaging system, like WhatsApp, why not create a group called “The Water Cooler” or “Virtual Happy Hour?” This way, you can maintain the lines of communication with your team.
6. Create a Daily Routine
Now that you do not have to punch in at a set hour, it can be tempting to sleep in late, roll out of bed, and then hop on the computer. This is counterproductive. It’s better for you to maintain a routine like the one you had before you were working from home. Sure, you don’t have the same commute, so you might wake up 45 minutes later. But your overall routine should remain the same. Daily structure is critical. You should have tasks you want to complete by a set time and then aim to complete all your tasks before the day is done.
7. Schedule in Breaks
Do not take for granted that you will make time for breaks. It’s more likely that you will be surprised at how fast time passes and you will take fewer breaks at home than you did in the office.
Taking a break lets you step away from your laptop or your computer screen. It gives your eyes a much-needed rest. It gives your mind a chance to think about something else. This typically refreshes your brain, making it easier for you to tackle problems and come up with fresh ideas. This does not mean that you should stop working when everything is clicking, but you should be reasonable. You don't want to finish each day with a sore back, red eyes, and a pounding headache.
8. Understand the Technology You Are Working With
When you are in an office environment, you don't need to worry about your equipment because there is an IT team who worries about it for you. At home, you have to become tech savvy. You need to know whether your keyboard, microphone, video camera, screen, and headset are in working order. You also must become familiar with some popular apps that are being used.
- Zoom is a videoconferencing tool.
- Google Docs is a tool you can use to create shareable presentations, documents, and spreadsheets.
- Slack is a tool for chatting.
- Dropbox Paper is a tool to create documents and notes with your team members.
- Asana and Basecamp create to-do lists.
9. Prepare Your Meals in Advance
When you are at the office, you could order food in or walk over to your favorite meal spot. Now, you will find yourself standing in front of the refrigerator looking for something to eat. If you don’t prepare your food in advance, like the way you used to pack your lunch, you will find yourself hungry a lot or eating quick yet unhealthy foods.
10. Add Exercise to Your Daily Routine
If you had a regular workout routine prior to the lock down, try to stick to it as much as possible. Use the time that you would have used for your lunch break to exercise. Throughout the day, stand up and stretch. This will help prevent back and neck pain.
Adding exercise to your daily routine will also help you to burn off some of the stress you might feel when working from home. A number of people have opted to connect with co-workers using the same video conference service, like Zoom, that they use for work and exercise as a group. One of the nice things is that you can share video imagery. Everyone can do the same work out or listen to the same music while working out as a group.
If you have been working at home for some time or if because of the pandemic you are just figuring out how to work from home, stay positive. There are a lot of excellent things that come from working from home. And maybe in a few months, you will be back in your office wishing that you were working from home again. Make the most of it while you have it.
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About the Author
Kate Noether is a PR Specialist, SEO expert and all-round tech enthusiast. Apart from that she enjoys biking on weekends and spending time in nature.