Tips for First-Time Remote Workers
The Coronavirus has forced many companies and governments to turn to telework in an effort to flatten the curve and desperately stop the rapidly spreading virus that leads to the currently uncurable COVID-19. Telework, also known as remote work, also known as working from home, has been around for many years and recently has grown exponentially in the private sector.
Remote work has been heralded and preferred by many, especially millennials, for its convenience, flexibility and efficiency. It allows employees to lead nomadic lives, balance raising a family with providing for them, gives time back to those who work multiple jobs and keeps costs low for employers. I know a thing or two about working from home. My own mother worked remotely through much of my childhood while I was homeschooled, and I now work remotely for a non-profit.
Now that it’s essentially mandatory for some, it has a different feel to it completely. It’s crazy to think that this pandemic has now forced so many to make this decision, and while it’s the right move to make there are still so many concerns for those who are not used to or simply don’t like the idea of working from home.
Whether you are concerned about staying focused, combatting cabin fever, keeping your work separate from your life, or how to keep your kids (who are likely out of school) from interrupting a phone conference, I’ve got you covered. This 3-part series on remote work will help you stay sane, productive and safe while America fights to #FlattenTheCurve.
In this intro, I want to drive home a few ideas that are going be important for those engaging in telework in the coming weeks.
- Create a Workstation
- Set Boundaries
- Monitor Goals
Here’s some more insight into each of those things.
Because you’re no longer working in a dedicated environment, it’s crucial that you have a space in your home where work is going to occur, even if you’re using a laptop and are prone to wander through the halls talking into your headset, give yourself a “work station” that you can physically go to and know it’s time for business.
This could be a lot of areas: that old bedroom you haven’t used since the kids left, you’re nicely insulated garage, the dining room that’s growing dust, or a small corner of your single bedroom (NOT the bed). This doesn’t have to be anything special at all, I often work in my own bedroom, but it’s a dedicate place that’s not a part of my regular lounging and living.
The next thing you need to do, is set some hardcore boundaries. I mean it. The more relaxed of a person you are, the more you’re going to have to focus on this. Some people are super disciplined and can wake up with the sun, pour some coffee and get to their computers. Others lounge in bed and wonder if it’s really necessary to check their email right now. I feel you.
Regardless of which category you fall into, or whether you’re a mix of both, you need to set some boundaries for how you will work. Your job will most likely answer some of this for you. For example, if you’re working customer service you may have set hours that answer this for you. If you’re working a job that’s less about hours and more about production, you need to figure out how and when you will get things done.
This means set your own hours. It might be a straight 9 to 5 or an early morning sprint followed by time with the kids through midday and then finishing up until the evening. It might be a night owl situation. It might consist of no breaks or many breaks.
Either way, determine how you will work and if you live with other people, key them in on it so they know what to expect. There’s nothing worse than thinking you will knock some things out in the next 3 hours only to have children, uncles, roommates and all of Whoville knocking on your door. Which you should probably keep closed. Maybe locked. With a giant I’M WORKING sign. That’s up to you.
Understand what you’re trying to accomplish. Do you have a certain number of requests to fill out each day? are you managing a team? Getting out invoices? Make sure you know what you’re doing, Sometimes your job is exactly the way it is at the office and other times it’s a bit different once you bring it home. Knowing what’s expected of you will help you to see how your workday will function in this “new” environment.
Based on what your goals are, you might have to create a space where you can teleconference that’s quiet, or get a plain backdrop for video conferencing. You might need productivity tools to follow your adjusted workflow. You may need to learn programs like Google Suite or Docusign for the first time.
Understanding what you have to do will make it much easier to determine what tools will help you do your job better and what you do or don’t need in your space. Take stock of what’s important about your job at this time. What is harder now that you’re away from your beloved coworkers?
In the next blog, we’re going to discuss tools for productivity, online and in the App stores. We’ll be closing this series with answers to user-submitted questions, which is where you come in!
I’ll be hosting a FREE remote work webinar on IG live this Friday at (noon) EST.
Come with all of your remote work questions. I’ll be sharing more in-depth tips from beyond the blog that can help make this transition easier for you. Follow me on Instagram @aceisjoy to receive updates on the webinar. I can’t wait to see you there!