#instantremote workers: Help your team be as effective from home as you were in the office

Many have suddenly found themselves #instantremote workers – and are wondering how they got here, and how they’ll ever possibly be as productive as they were in the office. Being intentional about your mindset, your collaborative work and the tools of the trade can go a long way.

Below are some tips that can get you and your team started off on the right foot. Use this as a guide for a discussion to agree on your new #instantremote worker norms.

BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT YOUR PHYSICAL WORK ENVIRONMENT

Pick your workspace: Choose a spot in your home, ideally a small room with a door or a corner where you have a good wireless connection, and limited distractions.
Get a noise-cancelling headset: Your ability to focus will rely on limiting distractions including the mailman, the dog barking, or your children’s dance party.
Establish ground rules with others in your space: Discuss with roommates, partners, spouses, friends and children your core working hours and conditions required for you to all be successful. Agree under what circumstances they may interrupt you, and how (do they text you? Slip a note under the closed door?)
Design your space for focus: Make anything you might need in a 2 hour window a part of your workspace, so you limit how many times you need to interrupt focused time for a glass of water or snack.  

DECIDE HOW YOU’LL USE THE VIRTUAL TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Plan your work and get focused: Make a list and block time on your calendar for the prioritized work you need to get done each day / week. Schedule time with co-workers for joint topics. Set a timer to timebox tasks and keep you on schedule.
Think before you text, instant message or email: Consider if your text or instant message will be an unnecessary distraction before you ping – can you find the answer on your own? Can you wait for an email response or do you need it immediately? Can you add to an existing meeting agenda? Also, before hitting “Reply all”, take a minute to confirm whether you are flooding inboxes when not needed.
Manage expectations with your supervisor and team: Discuss expectations about email responses. Just because someone emails outside core working hours may not mean they expect a response. For rare occasion items requiring immediate attention, agree to text or call each other.

SUCCEED AS A VIRTUAL TEAM

Human Connection: Use video as much as possible – it helps everyone stay focused and provides the human connection we all need.
Look for opportunities to create the virtual water cooler: Whenever possible, spend the first 5 minutes of meetings to catch up on non-work topics.
Plan ahead a weekly checkpoint or 1:1 call: You should have a set time with anyone you rely heavily on to guide or execute your work so you can align on priorities for the coming week.
Design meetings to maximize brain power: Productivity declines after 90 minutes, so plan breaks for people to stretch, breath, or just re-calibrate.
Understand how your team can work best across time zones: Discuss within your team how you’ll balance a schedule that works for you personally and as a team, with enough overlap for collaboration.
Gratitude goes a long way: Don’t forget to still appreciate each other – take time to recognize the contributions of others which often are ‘unseen’ now that they’re happening in isolation at home.

RECHARGING YOUR BATTERIES

Fuel your body: Food and hydration are critical to keep your body and mind in their best state – take a glass of water and a snack to your desk with you.

Sleep for Productivity: Prioritize sleeping at least 8 hours per night. Don’t expect to work outside our team hours and support sleep goals amongst your team members.
It’s the weekend: We all need to be recharged and refreshed to do our best work. We will not work on weekends except for special circumstances that are planned in advance or true emergencies.
Take the time: If you or a family member are unwell OR you have planned vacation time, step away to focus on your health or just take the downtime to recharge. Just because you can work from home and you’re homebound doesn’t mean you should work all the time.  
Self-care: During times of transition and upheaval like the current COVID-19 crisis, it’s easy to be hard on ourselves for not being ‘as productive.’ We WILL get there, but it may take a few weeks so be kind to yourself and others.

Need help with the discussion? Contact me – I’m happy to help.

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