The Complete Guide on Remote Work
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Has your workplace suddenly or gradually transited to remote work? Remote work has been a trending topic lately. In fact, you might already be reading this article from your brand-new remote office. Or maybe your company has allowed remote work for years, and it’s just business as usual for you and your team!
In any case, one thing is for sure: remote work can cause serious cabin fever and can have multiple downsides. However, when done correctly, it offers flexibility and other tangible and intangible benefits.
Of course, remote work isn’t a new idea by any means. Remote work has been around for a very long time. We’ve previously written up articles about remote working trends in 2020, and about some top tools for managers who want to get the most out of their remote working teams.
You could say that we are remote work experts! So, if you are new to remote work, you’ve come to the right place. As you get settled into a new way of life and deal with the issues that come with it, this article will help you get acquainted with the ins and outs of remote work.
In this article, we will go through the top tips to make remote work tolerable and even enjoyable for all!
Take Heed: Remote Work Is Not Ideal For Everyone
As it stands, March has turned out to be a rather particular month in the workplace. As many employees have transitioned to remote work, they have also realized the challenges that come with working remotely. Many companies have strongly encouraged, or maybe even forced, their staff to work from home. Some of these companies were not well prepared to make the switch.
For others, it might be a necessity, as a lot of school-aged children have had their classes canceled. Therefore, parents need to work from home to watch their kids.
For all the right reasons, workers are hunkering down and settling into a new way of life, away from the hustle and bustle of the office. Unless they have partners and/or children, they are no longer exposed to other humans. They don’t have to interact with anyone face to face.
This might be the ideal scenario of an introvert, but it might be the worst nightmare for someone more outgoing. The quiet of a remote work situation might unnerve an extravert, used to working in busy and loud environments.
Therefore, take heed. If you know yourself, and know that you can easily get cabin fever, figure out another work-from-home scenario that might work for you. For example, perhaps your ideal WFH scenario involves taking a mid-day walk, or working super early in the morning.
While We’re On The Topic: How About A Few Remote Work Hacks?
For our top remote work hacks, check out our article filled with the best remote work tips and tricks. Tips that sound simple, but make all the difference, such as “Shower and get dressed for work. It makes you feel like you’re going into a regular office. Therefore, you are much more inclined to be productive.
Remote Work Rule #1: Set Up A Dedicated Office Space
Maybe you have always envied your friends that were able to work from home whenever they felt like it. You might have envied their flexibility and their ability to work in a bathrobe.
However, if you go about it the wrong way, you might find that remote work has a lot of downsides. Therefore, we are sharing the first and immutable rule of remote work: keep your workspace separate from your living and entertainment space.
When you are in an office environment, there is a clear line that is formed between your place of comfort and your workplace. At home, this line is completely blurred. In fact, there just is no line, unless you draw one. And trust us, you will want to draw this line right away, because if it is not drawn from the beginning, it is much harder to do so later on.
Of course, setting up your workspace exactly how you want it is an intrinsic benefit of working from home. You can make it as comfortable and ergonomic as you wish. You have complete control over this space, which is not exactly true in a traditional office environment.
Finally, studies have shown that people that work from home tend to work longer hours. Again, when the lines between home and work life are blurred, working from home makes it difficult for some to find a proper work-life balance.
Remote Work Rule #2: Beware of Distractions
Mr. Mullenweg, CEO of the software company that owns WordPress – the blogging platform you are currently reading this article on – stated recently that forced remote work is a silver lining of the coronavirus epidemic. Indeed, it might help larger and more traditional companies get acquainted with this way of working.
Remote work has been the hallmark of many startups and software companies for decades. Yet not every company has yet taken the leap to try this method out. We suppose that Mr. Mullenweg expects the trend to catch on, and become more prevalent in the traditional workplaces of the world, after March 2020.
However, for people new to this way of working, there is still a lot to learn. One important lesson is to avoid distractions. It’s easy to want to flip on the radio, or the TV while working remotely. In fact, we do this because we are lonely and the sound of a human voice provides comfort and company. In reality, it may actually be quite distracting.
Then there are human distractions, such as children, a partner, and family responsibilities in general. These are often unavoidable in a remote work scenario. Therefore, one option is to do your work in lumped periods of time. This way, you can take breaks. For instance, every 2 hours, you can take a 30-minute break to dedicate to your family. Just make sure to time yourself and get back to your work.
Remote Work Rule #3: Team Communication is Key
To survive your time as a remote worker, you need to communicate well. If you want to be productive as a team, then communication becomes even more crucial.
Then, if you are the manager of a remote team, you really have to change the way you do certain things. Even if the forced-remote work trend lasts longer than expected, you may not get to master managing this type of work arrangement. Nevertheless, you can at least give it a try!
If your team is a team of doers, and of people you trust, then transitioning to working remotely should be a breeze. However, if you have new team members, team members who are not familiar with the team culture, or new hires that you are onboarding, then it’s more of a challenge.
In an office environment, a lot of information is shared face-to-face. Managers hold various meetings, and people meet and chat in the hallways. In a remote work setting, things need to be shared through written communication, or via scheduled calls. Therefore, it’s important to communicate often and with intention. It becomes more critical than ever to be a good writer.
Finally, in a remote work environment, you want to clearly communicate when you are available and when you are “out of office”. If you are working remotely and actually fall ill, how will your team be notified?
Different solutions are out there, and we will cover them in the next section. However, one great way to keep track of your sick days is through Vacation Tracker. It’s a one-stop shop for all vacation tracking needs and a perfect ally for managers of remote teams!
Remote Work Rule #4: Have The Right Tools
What’s one thing that pretty much every remote working company has in common?
They all have a virtual office space.
We just spoke about how important communication was to the remote workplace. Well, it’s not just important to communicate. It’s important to do so in a collaborative and fluid way. That’s why many organizations have turned to Slack. Slack replaced the office hallways and meeting rooms.
Indeed, managers of remote teams have turned to Slack, and to a handful of other tools, to create a sense of office culture at a distance. For example, some encourage their remote workers to schedule “virtual coffee breaks” with other team members. This breaks the perceived isolation that could set in as people are quarantined in their homes. Yet, it’s also just a great practice any time, so that remote workers can get to know one another.
Slack is the perfect tool for remote workers because even in its freemium version, team members have access to video conferencing. Yet, it’s also a great tool because it has a bunch of useful integrations that are ideal for remote teams.
Get Slack-Based HR Tools Like Vacation Tracker
Vacation Tracker is a Slack integration that allows teams of any size to book their leaves or sick days directly on Slack. It’s not only convenient; it also saves time and resources.
It’s got great features to keep remote teams on the same page. A user-friendly Dashboard helps to track when employees are out of office. Moreover, notifications can be set up to inform teams of upcoming leaves. This insures that proper planning happens and that leaves never have to affect a remote team’s productivity.
The reported pros of this app are its excellent customer service and its flexibility. It can easily be adapted to any organization’s leave policy. Moreover, their customer service team is constantly listening to and acting on customer feedback.
Use A Slack-Based Task Manager Like Trello
Trello is the ideal project management app for a remote team working on a complex deliverable. It’s among the top team management apps because it really helps to organize any kind of project.
Trello can be used independently in a browser also, but it is particularly useful as an app. Indeed, it’s another great way to view and prioritize tasks right inside Slack. Trello has the added benefit of being flexible and fun to use.
Try Todoist For All Your List-Making Needs
Todoist is more of a smart to-do list than a project management app. But for remote workers seeking simplicity, it can double as a project management tool rather nicely.
Tasks that need to get done can be added to Todoist. Things like due dates, priority levels and comments can then be added to each task. The app even gives users the ability to assign work to others. Once a task has been added to Todoist, it can be viewed on any device with the app.
Todoist definitely works as a project management app. But it also excels as a personal organizer. You can use it to better manage both your professional and personal life!
Losing Track Of Time? Try Toggl!
If you’re not familiar with Toggl, it’s “Simple time tracking. Powerful reporting.” In a nutshell, Toggle allows users to track the time they spend on projects and analyze the results for future optimization. The tool can be used on desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
In regard to remote work, Toggl can benefit two kinds of remote professionals: hourly employees who need to track their hours to get paid, and those seeking to boost productivity.
Hourly Workers: If you’re paid hourly rather than on salary, Toggl’s time tracking software is the easiest way to make sure every minute you work is accurately logged.
Productivity Seekers: Perhaps you’re just looking for a way to get more done in less time. Toggle can help! By tracking the time you spend on work-related activities, you’ll be able to see where you can improve your time management skills the most.
If you fall into either of these two camps, we recommend taking a look at Toggle to see if it can help make your life as a remote professional easier.
A Few Last Words On Remote Work
Maybe for many of you remote work will just be a short-lived experience. Nevertheless, we hope you learned something here and that you will equip yourself with the right tools and the right mindset to make your remote working days productive and enjoyable.
And remember that you are never truly alone. We are always here to help.
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.