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Table Of Contents

Remote Work Survival Guide (Our Story)

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Table Of Contents

If you’ve just tuned in, we have actually written a remote work survival guide already.

Although, we didn’t call it a “survival guide” at the time, because we thought we had things under control. When we transitioned to remote work over two months ago, we all thought it would be temporary. It was even fun at first.

We didn’t need to get up early to commute to work. There was no need to get out of one’s pajamas or even brushing one’s teeth. The coffee and snacks were plentiful at home. It all sounded really great, at first.

In fact, in the first few weeks, even without following our own advice, we were able to be productive. We actually got work done. But slowly, things changed.

The routine set in. We stopped showering as frequently as before, the house was a mess, and we no longer felt motivated to do anything. We’ve surveyed different members of our team and have found that we were not alone. In fact, that’s what got us out of our rut: knowing that everyone out there was struggling!

Therefore, you are not alone! We wanted to take the time to share the ideas and feelings that our team has had over the last few weeks about remote work. Some are more positive than others…

This is our story. Here is our remote work survival guide. The purpose of this guide is to ensure that no one goes through this tough period alone. Talking about our issues to one another is important. That’s a big part of it, and we will get back to that point.

But first, let’s start with the basics.

Dealing with Work-Life Balance: Stop Multitasking

While working remotely, the lines between work and play are nearly completely blurred. No one is surveying you. You can easily be watching re-runs of The Office the entire day while you work. This sort of multitasking is ultra-common. But is it productive?

We’ve asked different members of our team to weigh in. Unsurprisingly, most agree that multitasking, while more fun, does make them much less productive. We also noticed that people who live and work alone tend to spend more time working than people who live with others. Turning your TV on while working might seem like a nice way to create background noise, but it might also slow down your productivity.

In general, people who multitask report spending more time working. A task that could easily be done in 15 minutes can stretch out and take a full hour, if you’re not careful. Therefore, to maintain work-life balance, members of our team have decided to avoid multitasking as much as possible.

How did we do it? We used a fun little productivity technique. 

Many members of our team are big fans of the Pomodoro technique. If you haven’t heard of it, you simply have to look it up. We like this little trick so much, we had to add it to your remote work survival guide!

The Pomodoro technique is a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo at the end of the 1980s. It might seem old and outdated, but in fact, it’s quite simple and even fun.

When working according to the Pomodoro technique, all you need is a timer. It could be a kitchen timer or just the timer function on your phone or any other device. Traditionally, the timer would be set to a 25-minute interval. This would be the interval in which work would be done without a pause. At the end of these 25 minutes, you can take a short break of 3 to 5 minutes. After 4 intervals of 25 minutes, a longer break can be taken, of up to 30 minutes. Working in increments like this still gives you the freedom to do other things during your breaks. However, it creates bursts of productivity where your concentration isn’t broken.

Keeping a Personal Schedule

Another great and useful way to maintain work-life balance is to plan all of your activities. Or at least the things that you know you need to do, such as exercise, grocery shopping, and talking to family and friends. You can’t always plan for every minute detail. And you might want to leave room for spontaneity. Nevertheless, as part of our remote working guide, we recommend planning your personal life. To start, just try planning your evenings out to ensure that you don’t spend your entire day working.

For our team members, when working from home, the flexibility of their schedules can be their downfall. During what should be a short lunch break, you might start cleaning your apartment. As you move through the motions, you might realize that you’ve spent way too much time on the task. Meanwhile, work emails are piling up. And the end of your days gets inevitably pushed out. Indeed, it’s very easy to lose track of time when you’re solely accountable for your own schedule. This is why keeping track of your personal activities is also important. Instead of undertaking long or redundant tasks when taking a break from work, try exercising or listening to a podcast. Keep yourself in work mode, and it will be easier to return to work and finish what you have to do.

Getting In Touch With Others

We mentioned it in the beginning, and we can’t stress this enough: talk to your friends about their remote working situations. You will either learn new coping techniques, or you might just find some solace in knowing that everyone struggles sometimes. You can also connect with your colleagues. Without face-to-face interactions in an office, we might be losing touch with people who were once our work pals. To avoid this on our team, we’ve tried many different ways of connecting. We occasionally have small group team lunches via Zoom. We’ve also replaced our usual Thursday post-work drinks with a group call.

One important tip: these online gatherings are completely optional! Mandatory online events are a drag. First of all, everyone is spending so much time on video conferences lately, that it’s easy to get Zoom fatigue. And secondly, with the weather getting nicer and nicer, some might want to spend their free time outdoors. Surely, some lucky folks with backyards or balconies, or simply with unlimited cellphone data, can take calls anywhere in the great outdoors.

In a nutshell, get in touch with people you care about, and maintain an active online social life. For members of our team, this is a key element in our remote work survival guide.

Actually Taking Some Time Off

Here at Vacation Tracker, we are really big fans of time off. We believe that a well-deserved day off from time to time can work miracles. It can help put things back in perspective. Even after just a day or two off from work, employees come back refreshed and rejuvenated. Productivity increases and so does morale.

Something companies seem to really struggle with is keeping track of PTO. Other holidays may be problematic too. Especially for an all-remote team, it’s hard to track who’s on Maternity leave, on vacation, at a conference, or taking a sick day. We were having trouble tracking leave in our own team! That’s why we came up with Vacation Tracker.

Vacation Tracker can be fully customized to reflect your company’s leave policies. Once everything is set up, all team members need to do is to request time off by entering /vacation into Slack. It’s automated, simple, and effective.

If you struggled to balance your work and personal life and feel like you need to make up for a lost time, then you may need to take that break. Don’t be shy to ask for it. And don’t be shy to give Vacation Tracker a try either.

All new users can benefit from our 7-day free trial. If you don’t find it beneficial to your team, we won’t hold it against you! You can cancel for free. No strings attached.

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The Vacation Tracker team just hopes that everyone makes the best of their remote work experience, for as little or as long as it lasts. This remote work survival guide is not extensive, but it’s helped us cope so far. If you have any feedback or ideas to share, we’re always here to listen. You can message us at: hello@vacationtracker.io

Kristina Ousmanova
Kristina Ousmanova

Kristina recently left behind fast-paced life of Human Resource Business Consulting to freelance as a Content Writer. A regular Vacation Tracker contributor, she can be found working remotely from her home in Montreal, usually while eating a variety of snacks.

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