Tips for remote working

Due to the exceptional situation we are all experiencing, telework has become a must for many companies around the world. 

Working remotely means your home is now also your office, which can be quite challenging. Usually, you get up, go to work and then come home to switch off, relax or socialize. But, when you are working from home it is harder to separate the work environment from your home environment.

Additionally, if you are living in one of the countries that is in lockdown, being trapped at home for a long time without socialising can be lonely, frustrating and boring, so here are some helpful tips to keep you motivated while in work time and also some ideas to help you keep your spirits up in your non-work time too!

 

Working environment

Create a work space: Having a dedicated place to work helps you get in the state of mind to work. If you don’t, it can stop you having boundaries between home life and work life. Choose a place that you can use as a dedicated workspace, if you have flatmates or a partner who is also working from home, create a shared office space. If you don’t have a room that is an office in your house/flat you could use the dining table or the kitchen table.

 

Work routine

Keep the same work schedule: Try to ensure your daily routine is the same as your office schedule. Keep the same regular meetings (although they will now be online calls). Start and finish at the same time you would normally work.

Daily to-do list: Before starting work create a to-do list for that day to keep you focussed. It is recommended that you do the one task that you are not looking forward to doing FIRST, for example writing that tricky email, etc. By completing the task you’re dreading the most, once it is done and out of the way it is not hanging over you all day. Just imagine how happy you’ll feel afterwards and all fired up to work on the tasks you do enjoy!

Divide your day into shorts sprints: This is called the Pomodoro Technique. When faced with any large task, break the work down into short, timed intervals (called “Pomodoros”) that are spaced out by short breaks. This trains your brain to focus for those short periods. Choose a task to be accomplished, then:

  • Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer – you could set the alarm on your mobile).
  • Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then review what you have done.
  • Take a short break (5 minutes is OK).
  • Continue for another 25 minutes and so on. After 4 Pomodoros take a longer break. That longer break should be 15-30 minutes, to recharge you, before you start another 25-minute work session. Repeat that process a few times over the course of a workday, and you will actually get a lot accomplished while also taking regular breaks to grab a cup of coffee, etc.

Just before you log off: Take the last 10 minutes of your working day to reflect on your day. How did it go? What were your greatest achievements? What’s still to do? Check tomorrow’s calendar and write down any meetings, calls or must-do’s. The physical act of getting all this out of your head and on to paper gives you a plan of action for tomorrow for your to-do list. Finally put your notebook away and switch off that laptop. Now relax!

Want more? Udemy is offering a free course on Teleworking which you can get here.

 

Communication during work time

Communication Channels: Email is great for longer, more considered communication, such as documenting a process. However if you want to know how another person is feeling or thinking (negotiating, giving feedback or brainstorming) then you should use a Skype call or other direct-message channels (at ExoClick we use Slack) that you have available.

Say Hi! Say hi on your internal team DM channels when you log on. Start the day with a quick team meeting to discuss what each team member will be working on, discuss any problems and help each other with priorities and ideas. You should also do this at the end of the day to recap.

Say Bye! Write on your internal team DM channel to let people know if you are away e.g. at lunch, super busy, finishing for the day, etc so colleagues know why you are not responding.

 

Security 

When you’re working remotely, you have to take extra care to protect your data!

Passwords: Some hackers might take advantage of the current situation and try to get information from you. Don’t say any usernames or passwords out loud or on a call, don’t email passwords or usernames or write them down. Now is the perfect time to start using a password manager.

Keep your systems up to date: Most hacking and malware attacks come via web browsers and email. So keep all your software and your operating system up to date. Make sure you install any updates as they’re released.

Authenticator app for the win: In some buildings you may not have a strong mobile network so some 2-step verification SMS messages might take much longer to arrive. As an alternative you can set up the Authenticator app for 2-step verification on your mobile phone, available on Google Play and Apple Store

Shared Drives: Embrace the use of Google team drives. It’s a good way to share important info and avoid losing track of documents.

I’ve been compromised! If you think you have clicked on something you shouldn’t have you can run a deep scan. If you don’t know how to do that, simply contact your IT department.

 

Well-being

Breathing: Breathing is fundamental! So practise breathing exercises and meditation to help deal with any Coronavirus anxiety you might have and to help you relax and stay calm.

Stretching: Don’t stay glued to your chair take regular breaks to stretch out.

Vitamin D: Sunlight helps the body create Vitamin D, which we all need to stay happy! So open up your blinds and let the sun in.

Hydration: Don’t just rely on coffee and Coca-Cola, drink water and herbal teas to stay hydrated, it’s energizing!

 

Your free-time

Take an hour for lunch: Make sure you have a good 60 minute lunch break, tell your co-workers that you’re logging off for lunch, to avoid being disturbed. Make something you really like to eat so you can look forward to it. If you miss some of your work colleagues from the office, why not have face time with them during or after eating. If you play video games as part of your lunch break with colleagues, why not play online together.

If you are missing your friends, set up some facetime. If you can’t meet for drinks, so do facetime with drinks – call it a Virtual Happy Hour, you can use tools like Zoom!

Binge watch a Netflix series, this can really help you switch off from the working day as you get lost in a great series.

Bake some biscuits! The smell of fresh cookies baking is amazing and will really lift your spirits! Check out this recipe for Martha Stewart’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are sublime…

As Spring is coming, why not choose 1 room to deep clean like your kitchen for example, do it together with your partner or flatmates if you don’t live alone. It is super rewarding to have a spotless kitchen. Or why not Marie Kondo your cupboards and drawers. Think of those household jobs you have been putting off and do them at the weekend, it will give you a great sense of accomplishment.

Go through your wardrobe and try everything on, use your hall-way as a catwalk and ask your flatmates to ‘toot’ (it’s good) or ‘boot’ (it’s bad) the outfits, or, if you live alone do it on facetime with an ‘honest’ friend. Give the ‘boots’ the boot!

Although travel bans are now in full force, that doesn’t stop you looking forward to your holidays! If you are thinking of traveling somewhere later in the year, use your free time to do some deep investigation online of exactly what you will do when you get to your destination. This has a great psychological effect giving you something to look forward to after the confinement is over.

Keeping occupied is super important in your spare time, it keeps you sane and if you look at it positively, you can get really creative with ideas to fill the time. That’s good for your brain, your heart and your soul!

 

Giles

Giles Hirst