Many cities in the world have issued stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of COVID-19. With it, millions of people who typically go into an office are now working from home. Working remotely is nothing new to the 100-percent global remote team here at Aclate. We understand that it is a big task when you are responsible for creating your own schedule, setting up a workspace and enforcing work/life balance. However, we love the remote-working model and believe it to be one of increased ownership, excellence and overall job satisfaction.
Here are some of our team’s best strategies for working from home effectively and efficiently:
1. Create a Functional Workspace
Find a spot in your home, ideally with a closing door, in which you can work uninterrupted. Create a zen space with good natural lighting, items that inspire you, supplies you use frequently and a comfortable chair. Invest in a good headset for teleconferencing that blocks out exterior noise and lets you speak clearly. Keep your office space sacred. When you are on the clock, do not get distracted by home projects. Now is not the time to fix your broken lawnmower or paint the fence! When you are finished for the day, make a list of where you will pick up the next time you log on and close your door to symbolize leaving work.
2. Show Your Best Self
One of the many benefits of working from home is not having to adhere to an office dress code. Working in pajamas or athleisure is absolutely fine, but studies show that many people work better when they are in symbolic attire. Doctors perform better in scrubs and you, too, excel in whatever you would normally wear to work. Getting dressed signals your inner psyche that it is time to work. Take a shower and put on whatever you’d wear to an office and you may find that you are more inspired and productive. Also, make your bed. Sleep researchers have found people who make their bed feel more accomplished, productive and sleep better.
At a minimum, if you will be interfacing with coworkers or clients on video, consider the view that others will see. Wear something professional on top, remembering that cameras love bright colors like jewel tones. Look into the camera when you are speaking and mute yourself when you are not. Frame the camera so that you are centered with a few inches over your head and cut off mid-torso. Make sure you are well-lit. Your lighting source should always be behind you so you don’t appear to be in a cave. Minimal background images should appear on your screen. If you are having a problem with audio feedback from your microphone, our employees suggest logging in to the conference number with your mobile phone for audio instead.
3. Establish Daily Goals
Identify what needs to be done every day and make sure to do it. It is helpful to set goals in 30 or 60-minute increments. Figure out when you are most productive and plan to work during this time. Set a schedule for yourself, taking coffee and lunch breaks away from your desk, just as you would in an office. Avoid any distractions by turning off your phone notifications and avoiding social media and personal email.
Don’t forget to reward your hard work and take breaks throughout the day. When you accomplish a goal, treat yourself to a snack, a walk outside, 15 minutes of reading or whatever motivates you. Getting away from your desk is important. Some of our best ideas happen in the shower, on a run or out picking up food. Our team finds it helpful to make the action items they find most challenging a first priority at the start of the day. They recommend planning meetings, more “fun” projects and calls for the afternoon hours.
4. Set Limits With Your Family or Roommates
One of the benefits of working from home is being in closer proximity to your family and pets, however, boundaries are difficult to set with the limitations of physiological and psychological separation generally found in office work. During the Covid-19 outbreak, many families find themselves all working together under one roof for the first time. It is vital to set boundaries with your family or roommates regarding your work time. This can be especially difficult with younger children who may find it difficult to understand. Some of our staff have found it beneficial to make three simple signs with construction paper squares of red, yellow and green to hang on the exterior of their office door to let their family or roommates know when it is acceptable to be interrupted. For young babies and toddlers, try to work when they are asleep and trade-off childcare with your partner.
5. Use Digital Platforms to Mimic the Traditional Office Experience
Working remotely puts pressure on employees to manage projects and deadlines on their own. There are many programs available to help you organize your workload and collaborate with colleagues. Like everyone, we are big fans of Google and other collaboration tools, where you can create lists, add reminders and share documents. We couldn’t function without the virtual office workplace Sococo, where our employees work side-by-side, message each other, set their availability, see who is in the office and connect 1:1 via its built-in Zoom integration.
Remember that telecommuting brings both challenges and freedom. Whether you are working from home for the first time because of COVID-19 or embarking on a remote journey for another reason, remember that all processes and stages in life take time to finesse. Kids will interrupt, dogs will bark and your neighbors’ leaf blower may be extremely loud. Everyone understands. Be patient and flexible, take ownership and pride in your work and use your surroundings to build creativity and excellence. If you would like to learn more working remotely, side-by-side, ask your product manager or visit our sister company, Sococo.
Mary Beth Hubik is a freelance writer and has been a Marketing Consultant for Aclate for 13 months. She is pictured here with her crazy home-office crew, who are functioning pretty well most days, despite being together 24-7.