1. Find your best space for video calls.
This space will look a little different for everyone, but there here are a couple things to strive for:
– If possible, sit in front of a window. This will be the best lighting for your calls. Your background will be dimmer than your face, which is exactly what you want.
– Have your background be as least distracting as possible. If you’re talking, you want your co-workers or peers to be looking at you, not your background.
– Be prepared. Have everything you need nearby, including a drink or snack, and anything you’ll need for the call.
– Try to make your space as quiet as possible by establishing working hours with those in your household.
Putting your best foot forward by taking these extra considerations during call can make you stand out among your peers or your team for taking this seriously and professionally.
2. Over-communicate with team members.
Often times, we feel like we are being clear when we aren’t. Right now, when working in a remote setting, more communication is always better than less. Without the benefit of picking up on tone and body language, here are some things you can do to communicate better:
– Ask clarifying questions. This is something I do whenever I’m assigned something new for my internship. I will take notes, then read action items back to the person who assigned them, saying something like, “so, if I’m understanding this correctly, you want me to do XYZ, then ABC?” This extra little clarification can prevent going down the wrong path and wasting time.
– When possible, call over email/text/slack. Oftentimes, conversations can be much shorter and easier to understand by having a simple call or video chat. Don’t be afraid to ask for a quick call with the person you’re communicating with; pretend like it’s the same thing as walking by their office and asking a quick question.
– Have regular check-ins. Go over priorities, deadlines, and questions on a regular basis. This may be daily, or every other day, or weekly depending on who you’re talking to.
These little extra steps will save time and frustration; it’s worth it to spend a little extra time to communicate.
3. Take advantage of your best working hours.
Depending on your work structure, you may find yourself having more flexibility in your schedule. This is a great opportunity to discover and utilize your best working hours. Some people are much more efficient during the early morning, and others late at night. If your work allows, try to lean into that tendency in yourself. See what happens. Do you find you’re more efficient? You feel better about your work? You have the time to do things you would rather be doing in your off-time?
The difficult thing about not going into an office is that you no longer have the physical boundary between work/school and home. So, make sure you’re not working more or less than you should by tracking your hours. I like to use calendar blocking to track.
4. Use focus-triggers.
This one is one of my favorites. Without that physical barrier I mentioned, we need to find some way to distinguish between focus time and relax time. I like to use what I call focus-triggers to let my body and my mind know that I’m entering a work state. Here are some of the focus triggers I use:
– Eucalyptus oils. I have strong smell-association, so dabbing this on my wrists and neck before each workflow helps me focus!
– Headphones. I’m talking big, clunky, noise-cancelling headphones. These help me block out any and all distractions so that I can work productively. It also signals to anyone around me that I’m trying to work, to minimize interruptions.
– Glasses. I like to use my Zari blue light blocking glasses while I’m in deep workflow since I’m looking at my computer screen a lot. Wearing these also acts as another trigger for me to get focused.
– Focus playlist on Spotify. If I’m doing work that allows me to listen to music, I’ll listen to this Deep Focus playlist on Spotify.
These are just a couple examples of some focus-triggers that you can use to get yourself out of “home” state and into “work” state.
5. Implement breaks and stop-times.
While it’s amazing that we have a little more flexibility in our schedules, for us workaholics that can mean that we may muddle things a bit too much. I recommend to build in breaks and work stop times into your daily routine to avoid over-working. When I realized that I can and will work nonstop (minus meals, ya girl has to eat) from 9AM to 9PM, I realized that I should probably set some boundaries. So, I have at least two longer breaks, and shorter breaks as-needed in my schedule. I also give myself a hard work stop time around 8PM (still working on that one) to establish some boundaries.
I hope these five tips help you grow stronger as a remote worker! I’ve been adjusting to taking all my classes online and doing my internship remotely, and it’s been quite a journey. Happy to help you with any of these things! Simply schedule a consultation here and we can meet.
Stay safe and healthy,