Transitioning to Remote Work Successfully: What You Need to Know

As people all over the world make adjustments in the wake of the global crisis caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, workplaces have begun to look very different. Though working from home is not necessarily a new concept for many workers, countless others have never done it before. These individuals must make an extremely significant adjustment to their workplace approach.

It’s not always easy to work from home, especially when you have never tried. Successful remote work requires a unique blend of flexibility and focus that can be a challenge to master. Here are some tips on successfully making the transition from working in the office to working from home.

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Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Though it may seem tempting to simply take meetings from the comfort of your couch, the truth is that many remote workers struggle with focusing during the workday when they are in their home. Distractions abound, from dealing with your kids as they are transitioning to remote school to your pets interrupting your meetings, and it can be a challenge to stay on task. To solve that problem, many remote workers choose to designate an area of their home as a workstation or home office. Take a look at your home and choose an area that has good air circulation, is quiet, and has good lighting. You want those video meetings to be as clear as possible.

Though it may seem silly, you always want to spend some time making your home office feel inspiring and creative. You are going to be spending a significant amount of time in this space, so you should aim to feel comfortable and inspired. Add a few personal touches to your desk, just like you would at your workplace office — try adding an indoor plant or two and maybe some scented candles. Keep your clutter at a minimum and take the time to organize your desk. Not only does it make it easier for you to keep track of important materials, but it can help you feel more relaxed and focused.

Good time management is essential to successfully working from home. Make sure you plan out your calendar; too often, we let scheduled meetings and the needs of coworkers or managers take over our planned time. Sometimes, that can lead to having no actual time to get our work done.

If possible, plan out stretches of uninterrupted time for you to work on specific projects. If you, like many people around the world, are now sharing your time at home with your children, roommates, or significant other (who may also be working from home), you may need to sit down and discuss a schedule with everyone in the home.

Set some work hours for yourself just like you would if you were at the office. If you normally work 9 to 5, “leave” your home office at 5 just like you would any other day. Move on to your family life. This is an important consideration for your mental health during this strange time. The more structure you can build into your day, the better you will feel.

Though many managers may worry that employees will slack off and take advantage of being unsupervised, the reality is that most remote employees end up working significantly more hours than they did in the office. This can wreak havoc on your work-life balance, and it is important to pay attention to that as you switch to working from home.

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Photo by Agnieszka Boeske on Unsplash

One of the most common experiences new remote workers have when making the switch is a sense of loneliness and disconnection from their coworkers. Keep tabs on those feelings by making sure that you take the time to communicate outside of mandatory meetings. Many companies have implemented software that allows for a “virtual watercooler” experience, where coworkers can chat and share information uninvolved with work over a web chat or secure instant messaging platform, much like they might do in person at the office during a break. This type of communication, without a focus on work, is extremely important in keeping up employee morale.

Working from home can be isolating, and during the current pandemic, it can be doubly so. With stay-at-home orders in place in many areas, it isn’t possible to meet coworkers for dinner or even a cup of coffee, which can make that sense of isolation even more overwhelming. Combat this with virtual hangouts and group text chats with your coworkers. Everyone is feeling isolated right now, so though it might seem odd to have dinner or drinks with friends over video chat, even a little taste of your previous comradery can help.

As chief operating officer at Code and Theory, Larry Muller draws upon four decades of executive sales, entrepreneurship, and business management experience.

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