Let’s face it. Social distancing is our new norm, and to be socially responsible is not just a nice-to-have, but a necessity (just like rice and pasta).
Whilst some are used to this way of working, for individuals based in a physical office, this might be a new challenge. So, here are my top tips for working this way, and especially for being a manager remotely. In no particular order, they are:
Make yourself business-ready
- This means get dressed! It will make you feel much more like you are at work.
- Then, find a nice space to work, most people don’t have a home office, so dining rooms or comfortable spaces will work.
- If you are in a busy household, try and find a room with less through-traffic.
Set yourself targets for the day
- Break them down into before lunch and after lunch.
- If you feel yourself slipping or missing a target, look at what’s causing it. Sometimes working from home can feel like a breeze, however, it takes a different kind of focus you don’t need in a workplace, as there can be all kinds of distractions.
Speaking of distractions, some are of a positive kind
- Background noise, a good radio station or playlist on quiet in the background can help break the silence of a keyboard.
- Via email yes but also MS Teams, WhatsApp, and the phone of course.
- It’s important to keep feeling like a team even when working dispersed elsewhere.
- If managers ring and ask questions, it’s not that they are checking up on you for the sake of it, it’s that they usually would be sat next to you asking these same things. They will want to make sure they know the answers if they are asked themselves and check you are ok.
Know your IT
- This is where things can go horribly wrong quickly... In a managed office, your IT team control the variables. In a dispersed workforce, this means a multitude of home networks, VPN’s etc.
- But even at home, talk to your IT support or people who already work remotely in your organisation.
Routine or not to routine?
- This one is personal to each of us, but I tend to like to move my day around slightly, e.g. varying the lunch time, this can be around peak time for a task, when does something need completing by etc.
- Talking of lunch, it will be tempting to sit at the desk or laptop all day and eat there, but that’s how cabin fever and exhaustion sets in.
- Set aside time for lunch, if it’s not an hour, have two 30 mins breaks.
- Do something that gets you away from the laptop: walk the dog, mow the lawn. Do something that stimulates the mind in a different way - anything that breaks the work routine for that spell, as you will come back feeling refreshed.
It is so important, it’s worth repeating: Socialise.
- If you have dispersed teams, talk regularly to them. Not just by email but via voice or video calling. It can make a lot of difference to get a message across verbally, however, don’t be afraid to back up an important message with communication in writing.
Your team, your managers and your colleagues are very important during this time. But you are just as important.
If you feel yourself not coping well or having difficulties, it is best to be open and speak to a colleague or manager for support. Remember not everyone is suited for this kind of work, so look for ways to mitigate the effects.
I hope these tips are useful, but that we also don’t have to use them for too long.
Look after yourselves.