It's likely that you're working from home at the moment, and if you're not, you soon may be. It is a tough transition to make for many, but applying the right mindset, along with some self-discipline, will turn you into a successful remote worker.
A substantial percentage of our team at New Horizons has been working remotely for quite some time. For many of our team members, it's business as usual. We thought it would be helpful to offer some advice from some of our employees that have worked remotely for an extended period of time. You need to know what to do, and more importantly, what not to do, to make your transition a successful one.
“Add a bit of fun to your workday to help your team feel connected. Set up a group email or start a team OneNote page where you can start a topic, such as 'what are your big plans for the summer?' Or share a funny work-related meme.” – Eryne
“If you live alone, working from home can make you feel isolated. Be sure to reach out to your team or friends from work occasionally to catch up. It only takes a short IM or a quick conversation to reconnect and feel like you are part of the team. Staying in touch with co-workers can lift your spirits and make you feel energized.” - Debra
“Make sure to stay in touch with your employees, even when you’re not seeing them in person. Set up conference calls with the entire team and ask people to use their webcams; this will help them keep a sense of belonging.” – Eryne
Create a Routine
“Start a routine! Humans are creatures of habit, so whether it’s going to the gym at lunchtime or having mid-day coffee. A routine can be more powerful than a clock at helping you stay focused each day.” - Cindy
“Keep your work area tidy. Piles of papers and sticky notes everywhere can make your area seem chaotic and make you feel overwhelmed. Take 5 minutes at the end of each day to organize your desk. You’ll wake up the following morning ready to tackle the day with a smile.” – Debra
“Although it’s tempting to sleep as late as possible, don’t wake up a couple of minutes before you have to start working. You want your body to be prepared to start your day. Wake up, have some breakfast, get dressed, and then, start your workday.” - Jamie
“If it’s possible, you want to avoid working in a room where you normally relax (i.e. bedroom, living room). This will help you create a more clear divide between your work/home life, even when the two are closely intermingled. If you don’t, you will be more likely to check your email and get caught back up in work, during what should be your downtime.” - Jamie
“Working from home when the kids are not in school can be very challenging for parents. Have a family meeting and discuss what it means when you are working from home and set boundaries. You may have to allow a little flexibility with screen time or plan activities that they can do on their own. If you have kids between 7-12 years of age, have them make you a sign that is red on one side and green on the other to indicate when it is okay to come into your office.” - Tynan
“When working from home use your webcam. It will help you feel more connected to your colleagues. And will keep you focused on the meeting at hand.” - Anne
“When everyone in the organization is working remotely, we all communicate via chat, IM and text. Since this is different than looking to see if someone’s door is closed, or if they are working at their desks, we need to make sure we indicate this electronically. All the communication platforms have status indicators to let your colleagues know if you are busy, in a call, or away from your desk.
Here are a few tips on chat, IM and video calling:
- Check the status of your co-workers before dialing them for a call.
- Keep your own status updated: Away, Do Not Disturb, or Available – that way your co-workers will know if they can reach out.
- IM etiquette: send a short IM to see if your co-worker can talk before you call. This helps make sure they are free to take your call.” - Melissa
Use Your Time Wisely
“Don’t forget to take a little time for yourself each day. Get up and stretch every so often; you don’t have to feel like you’re chained to your desk. Take a walk at lunch time, or sit and relax for your break. This will help balance your day and help you feel refreshed - ready to take on your afternoon tasks!” - Debra
“Now that you’ve eliminated your commute time, use that time for something else. Take a few minutes in the morning to prepare a meal for the slow cooker. Once your workday is complete, dinner will be ready! You’ll have more time in the evening to relax and recharge for tomorrow.” – Debra
We’ll be back soon with more work-from-home tips. In the meantime, check out our free upcoming webinars as part of our Work From Home Training Program.