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Best Practices for Working Remotely

Man working from home

With the rapidly changing environment and concerns surrounding COVID-19, many organizations are making a shift to a fully remote workforce.  While remote work/telecommuting has become more mainstream, it is still very new to many companies who are learning how to handle this shift as it becomes a necessity.

7 tips to help you be successful while working remotely:

Telecommuting allows employees to successfully work from home or another alternate location and communicate with their employers electronically. The following best practices can help as you make the shift to remote work.

1.  Set a designated work area

Though this may seem trivial, choosing a spot in your home that is designated for working from home is an important step you can take to set yourself up for success. Choose a spot that you can work from every day that you are working from home. This could be spare bedroom that you’ve turned into a home office, a desk located in the corner of the living room or even the dining room table. However, you should try to stay away from working in your bed or on the couch, as these areas are associated with relaxation in your brain, which could negatively impact your productivity.

Make sure your workspace functions efficiently for you and your work style. Treat your home work area as you would an office cubicle. Make your workspace a place you enjoy going to each day, an area where you can focus and do your best work.

2. Plan and test communication

To ensure that you aren’t left out of the loop, make sure to schedule regular meetings and communications with your team, supervisors and managers. It can be easy to feel disconnected, so remaining engaged with your co-workers is key. Communications can include the following:

  • Virtual meetings
  • Phone calls
  • Instant messaging
  • Regular emails

3. Make sure your network and programs are protected

Telecommuting introduces another set of potential cyber security risks. Make sure you speak with your manager about cyber security and strategies you can use for mitigating the risk of a cyber attack while you are working from your home and have an up-to-date antivirus software.

4. Dress like you’re going to work in the office

The way you dress has been proven to affect you psychologically. This means that although it may sound like a great idea to work from home in your pajamas, in reality, it isn’t. While you do not need to dress up in business formal attire if you are working from home, you should take the time to shower, brush your teeth and get ready for the day. Aim to dress in casual attire.

5. Remember to take breaks when you need to

Just like you are encouraged to take breaks while you’re in the office, remember to allow yourself time throughout the day for quick breaks. If you need a short break to gather your thoughts, try walking around the house or down the street, stretching, or making a snack or meal.

Many families are home together without schooling or daycare during this time.  If you need to take a longer break, plan time in your schedule for this. A major advantage of working from home is having flexibility. Before you take an hour or two out of your day, though, make sure to communicate and check with your manager so that you remain compliant with your company’s policies. Taking breaks to spend time with family is very important, especially during these uncertain and stressful times.  Constant communication with your manager can be beneficial as parents and businesses learn how to navigate today’s new normal together.

6. Avoid distractions and stay on task

One big challenge of telecommuting is accountability. Without co-workers or managers nearby, it’s easy to become distracted and fall behind on work.  Stay focused on work throughout the day to maintain consistent productivity. Avoid online distractions such as personal email, social media and websites unrelated to work. Set a timer on your phone or computer if necessary.

7. Evaluate yourself periodically

To ensure that telecommuting is working for you, be sure to conduct self-assessments periodically. Things to include in your assessment could include the following:

  • What is working as far as your hours?
  • What are you accomplishing in the office versus out of the office?
  • Are you meeting all of your deadlines?
  • Are you feeling connected with your co-workers?

As we all navigate this challenging time and a new way of working to support our clients, constant communication is going to be the key to success.