In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and “stay at home” mandates, most people who hold office jobs are now working from home. Adjusting to this “new normal” has been easier for some people and companies than others. As soon as the transition began, the online community sprung into action, publishing thousands of instructive articles for the first-time remote worker.
In an effort to help cut through the noise, we’ve compiled some tips that go beyond the basics (like finding a dedicated workspace and mapping out a daily schedule), with a focus on overcoming the unique distractions of trying to stay productive during a pandemic. We hope that these ideas may help you find joy in your work amidst this challenging situation.
And in case you want to dig in more, at the bottom we’ve included an overview of some of our favorite articles on the subject.
1. Try the Pomodoro method
If your mind is clouded with anxiety and worry, it’s normal to have trouble focusing on your work. One of our favorite techniques to manage distraction and procrastination is called the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a time management system where you break your workday into manageable 25-minute chunks (or “Pomodoros”), separated by five-minute breaks. Challenge yourself not to check the latest headlines for those 25 minutes and give yourself a small treat once you’ve accomplished a few Pomodoros.
2. Pick up the phone especially when working from home
No doubt your company has developed communication guidelines for this period – daily virtual “stand-ups” and 1:1 check-ins with your manager to make sure everything’s on track. In addition to these scheduled times, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call a colleague if you have a question or idea that would be more easily discussed in real-time. Not only will it be more efficient, but it will also give you a dose of the social connection that we miss when we’re not physically together in the office.
3. Stay flexible – your teammates will thank you
Everybody has a unique set of considerations and emotions related to the coronavirus pandemic, and it can feel like a lot to handle on top of work. It’s definitely a balancing act between “business as usual” and interacting with extra empathy. If a colleague needs to schedule most calls in the morning or evenings to handle their childcare responsibilities, or needs an hour to complete a deliverable due to WiFi issues, a little extra flexibility will go a long way.
4. Figure out your internet (a must for remote working)
Ensuring you have a strong and stable internet connection will ease a lot of exasperation as you work remotely. With many people from home in your area, it may be possible that your internet provider’s bandwidth is stretched. Depending on your budget, a good solution may be to try bandwidth-saving tips like turning on your phone’s wireless hotspot for important video calls to reduce the frustration and awkwardness of delays and dropped calls, dialing into meetings by phone that do not require video, turning on “offline mode” so you can edit documents and draft communications without the internet, and chunk your time into “online” and “offline” work.
5. Develop a few enjoyable rituals throughout the day
Working in a confined space day after day can feel suffocating. Break up your daily routine with a few simple rituals that will help you clear your mind and stay positive. Take a few extra minutes to sip your coffee in the morning, put on a podcast at lunch, or do a quick stretching routine between calls. You’ll return to your work with more energy and focus.
6. Turn on the video (bandwidth allowing 🙂)
If your team is connecting on Zoom or Google Hangouts throughout the day, try turning on the video instead of just using audio. It helps to maintain the personal connection throughout a conversation, pick up on non-verbal cues, and generally feel more engaged during a meeting.
7. Keep up the team bonding – it’s more important now than ever
Your team can be a heartwarming source of distraction and support during a challenging and disjointed time. On our team, we’re keeping our WhatsApp threads active with photos and videos from home, along with lots of joking and healthy competition. We’re moving all of our monthly All Hands (a quarterly company-wide, now virtual event, where we share updates, latest news on all things Shortlist) and evening bonding events online to keep a sense of continuity. It’s been great to see how the positive energy from fellow Shortlisters is keeping everyone’s spirits high.
We’d love to hear from you about what tips for remote working are resonating with you during this extremely unique time. As always, tweet your responses to us! And take a look at the additional resources we’ve gathered below.
General resources for working from home
- Global teams that work: the secret sauce with 5 essential ingredients – Monday Remote
- 8 Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You – NPR
- 4 Ways Wirecutter Staffers Spark Joy While Working From Home – Wirecutter
- Working from home is awesome. Here’s how to excel at it – Los Angeles Times
- Working Remotely for the First Time? These Seasoned Experts Have Advice for You to Follow – INC
- The Complete Remote Work Playbook – LifeLabs Learning
- Zapier’s guide to working remotely – Zapier
- Why Great Teams Embrace Remote Work – Trello
- Remote Work Survival Kit (Crowdsourced)
Remote work tech and tools
- The Tech Headaches of Working From Home and How to Remedy Them – The New York Times
- 5 Tools You Need to Become Remote-Work-Ready – Monday Remote
- WFH: 10 Templates to Get Your Team Ready During COVID-19 – Monday Remote
- How to Boost Work-From-Home Productivity with Your ATS/CRM – Bullhorn
- Preparing for distributed work – Dropbox
- Coronavirus: How to stay healthy and productive when working from home – Ness Labs
- The Two Things Killing Your Ability to Focus – Harvard Business Review
- 10 Tips From CEOs on Working From Home Effectively and Happily – Entrepreneur
Managing people and team remotely
- 7 best practices for managing a remote team – Monday Remote
- ZX Ventures Guide to Onboarding New Hires During COVID-19 – ZX Ventures
- A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers – Harvard Business Review