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Making Remote Working Work For You

12 Mar 2020

Eileen Moloney

The key to successfully manage remote working is to make it work for you.

Remote working is nothing new. In fact, over the last few years employers have seen an increased demand for it from their employees, both current and potential new hires. Some employers offer a limited amount of days per week, other jobs lend themselves entirely to remote working while other jobs would be impossible to do if you’re not on site. However, the recent rapid spread of the COVID-19 has forced employers to make critical decisions about remote working that move this issue front and centre. While working from home may sound great, it does require a great deal of self-discipline. We’ve outlined some tips on how to make remote working work for you!

Get ready

Working from home still means you’re actually working. So commute not withstanding, do get ready to work at your normal time. Get dressed – you may not have to be totally suited and booted but wearing your comfiest set of PJs won’t get you into a productive mindset for work! It also means that if you are unexpectedly brought into a video call, you’re ready to go!

Structure your day

Don’t let your location dictate your schedule. Have set times for starting and finishing as you would have in the office. Know when to log off at the end of the day so that you don’t feel it’s encroaching on your normal home-life. Take time for your lunch and/or tea breaks but be disciplined about timings. Set your “to-do” list at the end of each day so you can launch into it immediately the following morning. Put tasks / reminders on your Google calendar and complete them by set times.

Set boundaries

Be very clear about setting times for team check-ins and phone calls. Just because someone is working from home doesn’t mean that they’re available for phone-calls after ordinary office times. Obviously if you’re working with a global team, you may need to make allowances for time-zones but otherwise, set availability times for phone calls and/or video conferences.

 Avoid distractions

If you’re working from home, it’s very easy to become your own distraction and procrastinate. First pick a specific working space whether it be in a spare room or at your kitchen table. Make sure it’s comfortable and an appropriate setting if you have to take a video call or Skype in for a conference.

Log out of notifications for your personal accounts, particularly if it’s social media. It’s very easy to get lost down the rabbit hole of Instagram or You-Tube so log out. If you’re using Chrome, then choose an “Incognito” browser so it doesn’t come up with previous searches that again would serve as distractions.

If there is anyone else in your home, family members / flatmates etc., do be clear about your space during work hours. You may be home but you’re not home for them! You are home to work so create clear boundaries where possible. It is quite hard if this involves small children as they don’t understand why their parents are right there but not available to play. Where possible, shut yourself away from common living areas in order to concentrate on your work.

 Technology is your friend

There is a vast array of apps and tools purely designed to help minimise distance so there is no excuse for not being contactable or being able to collaborate with colleagues. From Slack that manages team communication, Zoom that does video calls for groups and one-to-ones, Google Drive that allows for document creation, cloud storage, file sharing and collaboration to Chrome Remote Desktop which allows users to access their computer securely from any device and screenshare with colleagues, there is an app for nearly everything involved with remote working these days. 

Check your wifi, nearly every home now has access to fast broadband but in some rural areas, it’s still almost like living in a blackhole when it comes to technology. Do

You may have a laptop from work and access to all your files. If not, then obviously safety and GDPR regulations have to be considered and you may have limited access to information. Organisations who allow for remote working would have facilities in place. Others that don’t have remote working as a general option but are then forced by circumstances (eg weather related, public transport strikes, natural disasters etc) to offer remote working in order to keep the business going, then there may be limited resources such as laptops or remote access to systems available. In this case, there will be a list of people who have access to those systems and may be able to get you the information you need in order to complete your task. Ensure you have your contact list of numbers / email addresses up to date. Getting the right stack of support tools to fit both your own and the business’ requirements is vital so talk to your internal IT team and reporting line about what will work best and what is available for everyone.

Making it work for you

Remote working allows flexibility in your work habits. It can also increase your own productivity dramatically as you may find that you can get your tasks / projects done faster without stopping to take numerous phone calls or chat with your colleagues. Take the time to get tasks done that were constantly loitering at the bottom of your to-do list because they weren’t a priority. The key to successfully manage remote working is to make it work for you. Some people embrace the experience and others prefer the enforced discipline of working in an office environment. The trick is to find a balance that works for you.