7 Best practices for working remotely
Remote working has got numerous different names such as work from home, telecommuting, teleworking, agile working and the list goes on. But they all mean the same, a working style that allows employees from anywhere outside of the usual office setting or workplace. For most of us working remotely is not something new. Even before COVID-19 has disrupted the world, working remotely has been followed by many IT companies all over the world, where companies had allowed employees to clock-in out of the office. Various reasons may lead us to opt to work from home.
As we all are now in an unprecedented situation because of COVID-19, Work from home has become “ the new normal”. Whatever is the reason, technological advancements have allowed us to do our jobs from the comfort of our homes. Many employees across the globe are now working remotely and trying to adapt to the remote work culture.
Studies reveal that companies that encourage and support telecommuting often report higher productivity, higher levels of employee satisfaction, increased employee retention and engagement, and a lot of other benefits. Telecommuting has its own perks, as it gives us the flexibility to finish tasks from your very own home. There are many other advantages for employees, including better work-life balance, greater control over the working environment, reduced stress levels and more importantly well-being.
Remote work is not just the same, it does not operate with a one-size-fits-all formula. Everyone has different ways of working remotely like different times at which they work, different locations, time zones, and so on. People who have been working remotely over the years since the time it was a luxury that only a few companies offered by now knew what are the benefits and challenges of telecommuting.
For the employees who are new to this paradigm shift in the current situation, working remotely can be a bit overwhelming with its own set of challenges to face such as cross-time zone communication, distractions, lack of structure, isolation and other related factors threaten to overshadow the benefits of remote work.
However, if well managed with good strategies and following pro tips, you will have an awesome work-from-home experience. His article is your survival guide to telecommuting that will help you walk through the major challenges and ways to conquer them.
Challenge #1: Working for longer hours
One of the main reasons why many team leads do not approve of the remote work permit is that they fear employees will slack off without that physical or in-person oversight. But the fact is that the opposite tends to be the reality. Telecommuters are more likely to overwork. When your personal life and work are under the same roof, it's harder to switch between both.
Drawing a hard line between work and personal is tough and you end up being in working mode for longer hours which can be exhaustive. Many people who are telecommuting often complain that they face a hard time remembering to take breaks, stopping work at a reasonable time, or even not knowing when is the reasonable time to stop overworking as you pull up you're turned off the laptop to check on the last email or finish one thing and you finally end up spiraling into an unintended all-night session. Many work-from-home employees, even say that when you have an office routine, it is easier to leave what you do in the workplace, but when telecommuting, your office is where you live.
Pro tips to overcome the challenge of working too many hours:
- Stay organized and make a to-do list: A disorganized structure and not having a plan or to-do list is your time killer. Make a list of to-do things and plan your work accordingly. This one good habit sets a tone for the rest of your day to finish your work with a bang. Do the most productive work in the most productive hours without any distractions. Most importantly, avoid handling household chores during work hours. Set a fixed time frame for your household chores and stick to that schedule without any delay. When at work, Social media distractions and checking your emails often blocks your definitive time. And also make sure you don’t procrastinate.
- Stay organized and make a to-do list: Have reminders set in your laptop for short breaks such as take a walk intermittently that helps you remember to stretch, refill water bottles, coffee break, etc. You can use a clock setting in MacOS and Windows, you can use a task scheduler to set up an hourly reminder. Timing your day can be very helpful.
- Be clear to Inform your team when you are away: In case of longer breaks, make sure to inform your team members when you are away from your workspace. Most of the employees don’t practice this for one or another reason but this keeps you on a good note.
- Draw a clear line between you and your workspace: The best thing is if you have a dedicated office space so you can finish your job and sign out. Avoid procrastinating while at work. The more you delay your work the more you waste your personal space. So work smartly within the stipulated time and once you are done for the day hint that you are closed for the day. Try to stick to your office hours, even while at home. Don’t forget to turn off notifications on your smartphone and computer so that you're not pulled back into work after hours.
Challenge #2: Internet connectivity issues
Be sure to have your email account so that every message gets delivered into your inbox. The internet connection at the office is super fast and zippy unlike the net connectivity at homes which is sluggish. Internet problems could be like unreliable Wi-Fi, insufficient bandwidth that may cause average speeds to dip down.
Pro Tips to overcome the challenge of Internet connectivity issues
- One of the best recommendations for most people to overcome internet issues is to invest in mesh Wi-Fi systems that will help you connect multiple wireless access points to blanket your home with a good internet connection. Some of the best mesh systems are Google Wi-Fi and Amazon Eero which can serve the purpose. If you have no aforementioned options, you can also go with the up-gradation of your network for faster broadband options for the best prices.
- It is always advisable to have an internet backup option. When speed problems arise, you can resort to a hotspot feature in your smartphone that turns the smartphone's cellular connection to a miniature Wi-Fi network. Cellular networks are designed to help handle larger amounts of users, so your smartphone’s data connection will be faster when you have home network issues. But be mindful of cellular data limits to avoid surpassing the limits.
- Let your family members understand that you have got to work on the high-speed internet to finish your work and that they do not overuse the internet for gaming or entertainment during your work hours.
Challenge# 3:Establishing communication method and remote collaboration
Screen sharing is a prerequisite while telecommuting. High-quality video conferences and strong messaging history are very essential when you are working remotely. Connectivity issues can occur when you are in an online conversation with your teammates who are on the other side of the world. In an office environment, you always share facetime with your colleague, but remotely you can’t do that. This is why video communication tools come into play to let you share a screen with your teammates.
Pro Tips to establish communication and remote collaboration
- The good news is that you can use communication tools with the best features such as Skype for business, Google meets, Zoom, appear.in. Having accounts with these video conferencing applications can meet your requirements.
- You can create whiteboards to sketch your ideas, put together wide frames. Skype can help you greatly in doing so. You can also use Evernote to take screenshots.
- Creating Articles, spreadsheets, presentations in a cloud-based tool will allow your teammates to contribute and review them in real-time. So you avoid back and forth emails with many versions of the same document.
- Google docs are one of the most popular choices for online document creation and editing where it allows your other team members to write, edit, spot errors, leave comments or praise your work all on a real-time basis. Hundreds of existing software options to make your remote collaboration a breeze with Add-ons with the Online version of Microsoft, MacBook, Adobe reader also comes with features for editing and leaving comments too.
Challenge#4: Organising your tasks in the team
If you are working with a team, most of them must have already had a tool to organize their tasks. Every day you get many tasks to accomplish, so you will have to learn about the platforms and features to get the most out of these apps to organize your tasks.
Pro Tips to Organising your tasks properly
- To organize tasks and projects you can use google calendar. If you have dozens of tasks all piled up in a single column, then google calendar is just what you need to make your work easier and find the task organization methods that best suits you. There are also to-do lists that are simple tasks that don’t need much explanation and even for personal tasks.
- There is a detailed task list for work-related projects that gives you details on where you did more than just the task name, priority, and deadlines.
- One of the best benefits of working online is that you always have the list with so many calendar tools, notifications, email and you can also set due date reminders for any of your tasks to be notified a couple of days before its deadline.
Challenge# 5. To keep everything secured
There are always cybersecurity issues and one must never ignore it. Sure, none of us want to click on a spam email link and discover that the next day all of the company’s data is out. It can happen many days. SO how to keep your data secured.
Pro Tips to keep everything secured
- Protect all devices with strong passwords with the right mix of upper case, lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Do not use the same passwords for all the accounts.
- Use a password manager like the last pass for strong password suggestions and strong additional security reasons.
- Do not download software from unsafe websites or unauthenticated platforms.
- Make sure to connect to VPN services to keep internet traffic encrypted.
- Don’t access your work accounts from free Wi-Fi connectivity. It can be very dangerous.
Challenge #6: Interruptions you face at home
Nothing can be more challenging than having work and personal life under the same roof.
Pro Tips to do work from home better
- Create a dedicated office for yourself and make sure you are not interrupted as long as you are working.
- It is always good to avoid working where the kids are around.
- Explain to your family members why is it important to avoid interruptions.
- Set up a signal when you are on a conference call and leave a note outside your room that you should not be disturbed while at work. This is a good habit to make your kids know that you are working.
- Keep consistent work hours and stipulated short breaks.
Challenge# 7: Unhealthy habits
Just because we are now telecommuting and have restricted ourselves from moving out, it does not mean we slip into bad habits. When telecommuting, most tend to relax more and do not adhere to our daily active mode. But to have a peace of mind, we must never ignore having a healthy lifestyle.
Pro Tips to leave Unhealthy habits
- Avoid overeating. Generally, when at home we eat a little more than what we eat regularly. SO be sure of the calories taken and the number of calories you burnt.
- Take short breaks from your work desk and walk for 10-15minutes. This will help you stretch yourself and relax.
- Exercise daily for at least 30minutes indoors or have a brisk walk in your garden.
- Switch to eating more fruits over high-calorie foods.
- Have a reminder to go and fill your water bottle every 2-3hours. Stay hydrated.