The ‘new normal’ is gearing up to be all about working from home. With keeping a distance from others proving to be one of the best ways to curb the transmission of the novel coronavirus, more and more companies are considering keeping the remote work setup they’ve adapted during the lockdowns. As the coast is still not clear and the results of the vaccines are still about to be determined, lots of workers can expect to stay home for much longer.
Those who aren’t working from home yet, are planning on switching jobs, or are just about to enter the workforce might have a hard time acclimatizing with the work from home setup. It may seem very simple but there are lots of challenges that come with this arrangement. The lack of structure tends to throw a lot of people off so it’s best to know how to handle the situation.
This is why this survival guide was created. In order to help those who want to handle remote working as a pro, here are some important tricks, techniques, and hacks that one should keep in mind.
Ultimate Guide for Working Remote
On Asking For Help
Anyone who is new to the Work From Home (WFH) setup will have a lot of questions on how to go about the system. Even if an employee is already a veteran in what they do, the transition to the remote arrangement can make everything feel like new again. Things are extra challenging for those who are just joining a team as the distance can be more disconcerting.
This is why it’s important to know where to ask and look for help. Don’t allow the feeling of being lost to set in as it can cause panic and unnecessary stress. There are quite a bit of quick and easy answers to employees’ questions that are related to the new arrangement.
For starters, look at the documentation. There should be a substantial amount of information about the policies, regulations, and processes involving the setup and the general operation of the company available.
This is especially necessary now that everyone is working from home as it’s just easier to look up a document instead of calling or emailing someone up to inquire about certain details. With time zone differences, unscheduled calls and emails might not get attended to right away.
This task will involve a lot of reading, however. It might take some time but it will help lay some good foundation and ground rules so it’s definitely worth the effort.
Communicating with teammates about the things they wish they knew when they were starting out will also provide useful information to those who are new. This can be done by setting up a call or create a group chat where one can get to know their new coworkers better.
Asking questions like what they wish they knew in their first week or what advice they can give their younger selves when they were starting out with the company would be of great help. This will help new team members to direct their information-gathering efforts and gear up for the challenges they may face.
Of course, touching base with one’s manager or supervisor will also be of help. Good leaders will be very helpful in easing their new team members into becoming a part of the group so do not hesitate to get in touch with them.
On Making Friends
Even those who work on-site found it hard to build friendly relationships with coworkers so what more now that people need to exert more effort to interact with each other? However, the whole thing is not impossible to do. There are a few tactics that can prove to be effective in making friends with remote coworkers.
For starters, proactively reaching out to others is always recommended. Since there are no more opportunities for coworkers to have some watercooler talk, some companies have their own methods to keep their people interacting.
Some places pair up employees to take some time to chat about anything at all – from their work to their personal lives – for a few minutes every now and then. They may be forced but it gets their people talking and trying to get to know each other. It helps ease the feeling of isolation and creates opportunities for coworkers to get to know others.
Other places just take additional time in their regular meetings and video conferences to catch up with each other. This helps keep teams updated with each other and fosters the spirit of being a part of a group. It can do wonders to keep the feeling of isolation at bay.
Of course, individuals can also take initiative in making friends. It’s always a nice gesture for someone to reach out to a new team member and newbies will most likely welcome the opportunity to get to know their new coworkers better.
Asking others to work while on a video conference can also be a good way to create a sense of togetherness among remote workers. It might be able to substitute the feeling of being around other people when working on-site or at the office.
For new hires, establishing their communication expectations with the team they are in is vital. Determining the times of availability of teammates and managers, especially when members are living in different time zones, should be done early on to ensure better communication lines.
On Having a Good Work-Life Balance
Having a good work-life balance has always been a problem for many. However, shifting to a WFH setup made things worse for many for lots of reasons.
Firstly, lots of folks tend to end up pushing themselves harder to prove that they’re actually working even without any supervision. It tends to assuage some people’s guilt about getting paid even by staying home that they’re working beyond their eight-hour workday.
Secondly, some people are bad at time management. Many tend to succumb to procrastination since they’re not used to being productive when they’re at home. This can lead to people spending their work hours dallying about and then doing their actual tasks at the last minute and until late in the evening.
Both of these are bad as it robs an individual the time they need for activities that are focused on their interests and enjoyment. It prevents them from having a good work-life balance.
The solution here is pretty straightforward, however. A person just really needs to learn how to prioritize and learn when to stop. These two things will help keep one productive during work hours and be confident enough that what they already churned out is enough.
Pick and choose which tasks need to be done first and aim to finish everything in a timely manner. Setting boundaries is necessary as well, especially for those who tend to overwork. Doing this will allow one to make time for other things and maybe have some fun or find something fulfilling to do.
On Setting a Personal Schedule
Unless work hours are noted in the contract, remote workers can set their own work schedules. This is one of the most attractive things about working from home. It allows one to get to work when they’re most productive and allows them to be as efficient as they can possibly be on their own terms.
However, this freedom can also be too much for some. Procrastination and distractions are always around to keep one from being productive so a lot of people might need more rigid structures to get stuff done. So to address such concerns, it’s best to set a personal schedule so parameters can still be set and adhered to.
In order to craft the perfect schedule, it’s crucial that one gets to know their work style first. Different kinds of people operate in various ways so it’s important to identify what one is before creating a work schedule.
For example, those who deem themselves as morning persons can find early mornings as the best time to get stuff done. Setting their schedule around that time will be beneficial for them. Others can be more productive in the afternoon so they might want to sleep in and finish their work later in the evening instead.
Once the schedule has been created, it’s now a matter of sticking to it. If an individual’s company cares more about the output instead of the hours put in by employees, having a fixed schedule may seem silly for some but it’s really helpful so make sure to still follow it. The routine will work wonders on one’s productivity.
On Dressing Up For The Job
Like the saying goes, dress for the job you want not the one you have. This is especially true for those who are working remotely as many tend to skip dressing up since they’ll just be at home anyway. Why try to look fancy when no one else will really see them?
The thing with dressing up, however, is that it can also put one in the right state of mind. It can help one get into the right mindset: that they’re going to start to work and they’re not going to lounge on the sofa.
While it’s not mandatory for one to get out of their PJs to start working, it would be great to dress up for work as it can promise better productivity. Slipping out of something worn for ultimate comfort might just give an individual the push they need to start getting stuff done.
Still not convinced that one should go all out when they’re just going to sit at home in front of their computer? Well, then, at least try to look a bit more polished. There are now lots of comfortable pieces of clothing that can help one look more dressed up but will not compromise one’s comfort, so opt for those instead.
On Staying In Shape
It’s way easier to stay sedentary when working at home so it’s important to exert an effort to get some exercise. Doing this can be tricky, especially for those who fail to budget their time properly as they will end up without any free time to do anything else. So those who want to stay in good shape despite not needing to move around too much, the first thing to do is to improve one’s schedule.
If scheduling is a challenge, another area that can be tweaked to help remote workers stay in better shape is their work area. It’s entirely possible to equip one’s workspace with a few items that can help in achieving fitness goals, so it’s definitely worth exploring.
Some got themselves a stationary bike work station so they can pedal as they work on their laptops. Others opted for an under desk bike pedal so they’ll stay in motion all throughout the workday. Switching to a standing desk can be ideal, too. Taking time to actually exercise and eat healthy is also highly recommended, of course.
On Not Turning Into a Recluse
Isolation is one of the concerns that come with working from home. Being away from other people can either cause people to retreat further into their own worlds or make them feel depressed. Either way, it should be resolved effectively.
For those who live in a shared space, spending time with housemates can easily fill up one’s socialization quota. However, those who live alone will need to exert more effort. Before the pandemic, lots of remote workers solve such issues by working at a coffee shop or local library from time to time. Nowadays, doing that is not so ideal anymore, so alternatives should be looked into.
One way to do so is by doing regular video calls with friends and loved ones. Meeting up with a friend for a meal or cup of coffee every now and then can help. Hitting the gym would be a good way to surround oneself with other people and it has the bonus of getting some exercise so it’s a win-win for everyone.
On Avoiding Distractions
Distractions also pose some of the biggest challenges for those who work from home. It’s so easy to choose to do a quick chore before working on something until one realizes that they’ve already spent hours on doing other things instead of their work tasks for the day.
According to experts, the best way to avoid distractions is by strengthening one’s willpower. It can really be hard to avoid the things that will draw one’s attention away from their tasks at hand so one has to be set to focus on work instead.
Procrastinating productively can also help. Instead of whiling time away, meditate, exercise, take a power nap, or make journal entries when the drive to work isn’t there yet. Scheduling breaks and adding purpose to them is also a good way to avoid distractions.
On Handling Tech Issues
Without an IT department to call when working from home, it’s crucial for remote workers to know some basic tech support so they can fix the issues they may experience from time to time. Researching on how to set up more secure connections is recommended. Having backups for power supply and internet connection should also be planned.
It’s said that working remotely helps improve employees’ quality of life significantly and it’s true. Those who were able to manage the arrangement effectively are able to enjoy its benefits to the fullest. It can be a bit rocky at first but once a newbie got the hang of things, but by learning the ropes, one can be guaranteed that they will be able to get a lot out of the situation.