Top Tips for Successful Remote Work

Thanks to COVID-19🦠 there are many out there who are suddenly having to transition to remote working or teleworking or pivot their businesses to more of an online model. I hope my experience can help and so I offer 4 top tips and tools for successful remote working.

13 years ago we started working remotely. It was the only way we could manage a blended family with 2 small kids, needing to be near an ex-spouse in semi-rural-suburban Harford County, with the only financially viable work options being 45 mins to 1.5 hours away. It became an even greater necessity when 2 babies came along. Suffice it to say that over these years we have seen the gamut of challenges and amazingness that comes from remote working. If there’s one silver lining in the disaster that is COVID-19🦠, it will be the demonstration of just how many jobs can (and maybe even should) be done remotely.

1️⃣FIRSTLY – Communicate

The single most important things about remote working are COMMUNICATION, VISIBILITY, and PERCEPTION. Stay in regular communication with your teams and not just about work either. Be reachable and accessible. I cannot stress this enough! This happens organically in an office environment—the water cooler truly is amazing for this! But you have to actively work at this when working remotely. It’s so easy to just put your head down and bang out tasks—you will find it far more efficient to work at home (no commute, no interrupting co-workers) *if* you can figure out what to do with your kids and to forget about the endless chores at home. Bosses will be grateful for this productivity but they will start doubting you anyway, especially when they are used to seeing your face and butts-in-seats every day—they know no other way to be. Try to recreate the camaraderie of an office remotely. Tools to use for this are:

🔹 phones
🔹 text / SMS / chat / instant messaging
🔹 email
🔹 video and video conferencing
🔹 project management

The specifics of the software you use for this will be determined by your company’s IT and Communication policies, but what we use specifically are the following…they are chosen because they are device-independent and available in the cloud, for true location independence.

👉 Phone
Call people. Yes, I know it’s odd in this day and age, but trust me, the only way we’re going get through this is to communicate with people. Don’t be shy; pick up the phone, call people and speak to them.

Phone, text, file transfer. Desktop and mobile app. GREAT for international communications because…FREE!

👉Facebook Messenger
Phone, text, file transfer. Desktop and mobile app. Not as great quality as WhatsApp and perceived lack of professionalism, but great as a standby.

Chat messaging and file transfer, good sorting mechanism. FREE!

👉Google Drive
Also Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc
Good for file storage, real-time collaboration, auto-save, version history, FREE!

Video conferencing and screen sharing. FREE for 1:1 meetings and 40-minute group meetings up to 100 people. Low cost thereafter. Google Hangouts is also an option for this. Consider a daily conference call, possibly at the beginning of the day to lay out the day.

Great for explainer videos and FREE! COVID-19 discounts for Pro version.

👉Project Management
Asana. FREE for basic functions. Integrates with Gmail and Slack.

💥Many software programs are starting to offer COVID-19 discounts. Watch email and news for these offers.

2️⃣SECONDLY – Deliver

The second most important thing about remote working is delivering. Actually, deliver what you say you’re going to deliver. I know, it sounds crazy, but have integrity. Also, it sounds like common sense, but without this piece, remote work will be an abject failure. In fact, perhaps even over-deliver! You will be loved for this. And people will see the awesomeness of remote working.

3️⃣THIRD – Setup

The third most important thing about remote working is your setup. If possible, hole yourself up somewhere with a door. Close the door. That door has amazing signaling powers to your family—you are off-limits while you are working.

In the absence of a door and office, educate your family about why you’re doing what you’re doing and how they are to leave you alone. Actually, even with an office, educate your family. Put the dogs, cats and noisy birds away. Wear noise-canceling headphones.

Anything to have quiet with no interruptions! It’s more professional and you will be taken more seriously.

4️⃣FOURTH – Balance

The fourth most important thing about remote working is balance. It is a hard thing to work from home and not just work all the hours, especially if you love what you’re doing (hmm..ask us how we know this!). But you HAVE to learn to schedule your day and your personal life. If you don’t do this, you will burn out and not be good for anyone or anything.

On the flip side of the balance coin, it can be hard to work from home if you hate what you’re doing and no one is actively watching you. It is SO VERY EASY to be distracted at home! Social media is so easy to access and can be a huge time suck. The only way we’ve found to handle this is task lists next to my laptop and my Asana project plans. We try to stay task-focused all the time, taking pre-planned breaks. Checking off those tasks is so very satisfying!

For extra productivity, check out our take on the Pomodoro Technique “Working in Chunks”.

Well, that’s if for now folks! We’re happy to chat more with anyone who wants help with any of this. We’re all in this together and we’ll get through it, if we give each other a helping hand.

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