Working remotely is not for everyone. However, these unprecedented times force us to take our workplace home while staying just as productive as before.
I’ve worked from home, full time, for over seven years, as both an individual contributor and team manager. I’ve seen some people adjust very quickly to work-from-home life, even increasing productivity. I’ve seen others struggle. How can you tell which camp you fall in? These four key elements determine whether or not you are setting yourself up for a positive remote work experience.
Communication is, by far, the most important thing when it comes to not only keeping productivity high, but also maintaining social interaction.
On the productivity side we tend to hide behind email when working remotely. Force yourself to pick up the phone and have a conversation. It will save you time, and eliminate the multiple back-and-forth emails that stem from fixing miscommunications.
From a social perspective, we tend to forget how many in-person interactions we have every day at the office. Working from home requires you to make an effort to keep the social juices flowing. Leverage videotelephony tools like FaceTime or Zoom to see each other, and don’t be afraid to engage in some pre-meeting small talk.
Unless you’re extremely self-disciplined, you need to create a daily schedule that you stick to as much as possible. Think about it: you’ve been stuck in the same rhythm for so many years and now you’re forced to break that. In addition, there are a lot of distractions at home that could cause you to become unproductive. Creating structure and sticking to a schedule is key.
For example, don’t get in the habit of working in your pajamas or getting out of bed at a later time. If you’re in charge of taking the kids to day care, don’t change your drop-off time. Keeping things as normal as possible prevents you from breaking the structure that you’re used to, which keeps you focused.
Working from home can impact your health if you don’t make an effort to take care of yourself. Take small and scheduled breaks throughout the day and keep going to the gym, if you did before. You will notice very quickly that working from home reduces the amount of steps you take, and that laziness can sneak in very quickly.
You’re not walking over to colleagues’ desks, or sprinting to your next meeting. You now do everything from the seat you’re in. I’ve even noticed that at times, I drink less water and eat more irregularly, causing all kinds of issues. All these “little” things impact your health, especially if you’re working from home for more than a week or two.
This is probably the most obvious one, but you need to create a dedicated space for yourself; one where you can go to work in the morning and walk away from when the day is over. It’s crucial that you disconnect from your workspace, and avoid associating your whole house with work.
When scheduling meetings, keep the attendee list small. Having too many people on a call is not going to be productive.
To keep people interacting with one another, start an internal “chatter” group for members to share thoughts, ideas and success stories.
Lastly, both managers and their direct reports need to have open communication about daily expectations. Over-communicate about non-work-related activities, which creates understanding and trust. Results-based work becomes more highlighted in this era.
Working from home isn’t always easy. It comes with its own challenges. Just keep in mind that your success is, for the most part, dependent on you taking ownership of your new reality, and you’ll do great.
Nvoicepay syndicates thought leadership content from our employees. This article originally appeared on Eddie Menkhorst's LinkedIn.