Tips on How to Master Working Remotely
Millions of workers are now setting up their work stations at home. While some of them have found that this is a pretty easy transition, others may find that things will take some getting used to. Another group of people may find that transitioning to this is chaotic and harder to manage than they ever imagined!
Don't worry, though; no matter what group you find yourself in, there are tons of tools and tips to help you get things back in line and working like a well-oiled machine. In this article, we'll be talking about how you can work with your team while staying both productive and within your comfort zone. We'll also go over some of the best collaboration tools available for remote workers and groups.
Tips for Working Remotely
Whether you're new to working remotely or not, there's always room for some improvement. Here are some things you'll want to address to make sure you're setting yourself and your team up for success without the stress.
1: Focus on your goals
As people learn how to master working from home, everyone will vary in how they get projects done and how much time they spend on tasks. Whether you're managing an entire team or just managing yourself, you'll want to focus more on the end goals and less on the path taken to reach those goals.
This is to leave a little leeway when it comes to finding out what works best for each person as they transition. While things might seem to be going slower at first, everyone will begin to thrive with different habits and techniques. It's best to let people figure out what works for themselves if you want to ultimately increase your team's efficiency and productivity.
However, you will want to make sure people are following the information laid out in your playbooks (more on that below). Still, it's ok to leave some wiggle room to accommodate your team's different personalities and lifestyles.
2: Keep everyone on the same page
As you and your team start working on and creating new things or using new tools, make sure you document them in playbooks. Write everything down and save it in a location that is easily accessible to everyone on the team. This can be done either in a fancy project management system or something as simple as docs and sheets in Google Drive.
When you have everything written down, clearly explained, and organized in these playbooks, you and your team will have an easier time being proactive. This means rather than continually frantically asking questions and then waiting for them to be resolved, your team members can just look through the documents for the information they need, leading to maximum efficiency.
You can create as many playbooks as you want, and you'll want to document as much as possible, including information such as:
- The role or person who is handling specific projects, issues, and tasks
- Detailed instructions on how projects and tasks are completed, delivered, and reported.
- What to do when specific issues arise. Make sure you document problems as they come up and how you're able to handle them internally.
- What to do when you need to address urgent problems, such as technical issues.
You don't need to be super strict about everything being done perfectly. Still, you'll want to make sure everything is laid out in clear, easily understandable detail, so it can help those who need it when they need it.
3: Make a workspace that's right for you
Working from home can have its advantages and disadvantages. For one, yay! You won't have to make a 25-minute commute to the office. Now you just have to walk a few feet from your bed over to your desk.
But if you've never worked remotely before, you might not have the things you need to set up a comfortable and productive workspace. Rather than working in a private office, now you might find yourself sitting at the kitchen table. Instead of having the nice swivel office chair provided by your company, you may have to sit on a backless barstool.
Even if it's not ideal, you can still find ways to improve your workspace, therefore enhancing your comfort and productivity. Here are a few tips for making a comfortable workspace to suit your needs:
- You don't want to have too much stuff sitting around on your desk. Clear the table from any distractions – it's surprisingly helpful!
- If you have neck problems, or your neck hurts from looking down too much, try propping your laptop up on some books or buying an inexpensive laptop stand.
- If you have back problems, place a pillow in your chair for lumbar support at your lower back. Or you can try setting up a makeshift standing desk, so you're not sitting down all day.
4: It's ok to overcommunicate in the beginning
When you first begin working from home, there are a lot of things that will need to be clarified for your team – especially if there are multiple people who need to find a group flow along with their personal flow. You'll also have to address new needs that pop up that you've never expected before.
Work together with your team and come up with solutions that ensure the overall success of everyone. If you don't know who will be sending out the meeting recap email, ask your team. If you're worried your kids (who are now schooling from home!) may interrupt a morning meeting, tell your boss and figure out a workaround or another solution. Having an issue setting up specific software? Don't be afraid to ask for help!
More than likely, there will be more issues that start popping up than you'd first expect. But, by being proactive, you'll be in a much better position to handle these things and make sure everything goes smoothly for you and your team.
5: Create a sense of community
At most companies, there comes a time of the day when people spend time socializing about things other than work. This is a time when coworkers take a mental break from the day's tasks and can chat and laugh.
If you like socializing with your coworkers or team, you'll want to make sure you can all still have time for team building. You can catch up via video chat on Zoom or Skype, or you can make a channel in Slack specifically for sharing articles, memes, and other fun things that aren't part of the job.
Things like this can help maintain a sense of camaraderie and allows the team to take their mind off work for a few minutes every now and then to get some much-needed social interaction.
Tools for Remote Workers
If you're working for a company, more than likely, they've already laid out some groundwork for the tools you and your team will be using, many of which are just an extension of what you used during your time in the office.
However, if you're responsible for managing a team, or you just want to boost your efficiency with the people and clients you work with on a regular basis, here are some tools that can really make a difference!
1: Project Management Tools
Working from home might mean that you need to change the way your managing your projects and tasks so everything stays organized and everyone is accountable for their share. Otherwise, essential tasks may be forgotten and left incomplete.
This is where your project management tools come in. They allow you to break big projects down into small building blocks and assign them to your team members with due dates and all the details and attachments they need.
There are some intricate project management tools out there (mainly for big, international corporations), but these are not always necessary to get the job done.
Here are a few less complicated project management tools to check out:
2: Chat Tools
Best practices for remote work say to be wary of unnecessary calls, which is why having a real-time chat application is one of the best collaboration tools for remote team workers. These chat tools allow you to handle issues as they arise without interrupting each other's schedule or concentration.
Chat tools can help ensure that a 5-minute issue doesn't become a 30-minute call – which I'm sure you may have experienced before! Here are some of the best chat tools available:
While these tools are undoubtedly advantageous, you don't want to reach the point where they aren't anymore. Some people aren't bothered by others chatting them up all day long while they're getting their work done. However, most people aren't like this.
Check to see if the chat tool comes with a "Do Not Disturb" functionality that turns off your team's ability to prod you. They'll see that you're unavailable, and you'll be able to see those messages and answer them when it works well for you.
3: Video conferencing Tools
If you're used to having regular in-person meetings, it might be tough to just stop doing that, which is where video conferencing tools come in. Video conferencing applications are some of the best collaboration tools for remote teams, as they help you maintain a sense of collaboration and cooperation, even from the comfort of your own homes.
Many video conferencing tools include features such as screen sharing, video recording, integrations with your calendar, and virtual backgrounds (in case your home workspace isn't the most ideal!). Here are some popular video conferencing tools that may be helpful to you and your team:
4: Time Tracking Tools
Time trackers can help you and members of your team remain productive, even while figuring out how to juggle a bunch of different things in both personal and work life. You can use either a simple timer or one that's more in-depth, which can log time for various projects or track the entire team's output.
Tip: When working remotely, set a timer for 30-minute increments, and take five- to ten-minute breaks in between. When you break up a long day into smaller chunks of time, you can stay super focused on the task at hand, rather than trying to do too many things at once or signing into social media!
Here are some excellent time tracking tools that can be used by either groups or individuals:
Be Patient with Transition
Working from home is entirely different from working in the office. For many people, it will definitely take some getting used to. It's completely normal to be overwhelmed or frustrated while trying to figure out your groove, and remember, you're not alone in this!
The biggest thing to remember is that this transition will take time. You'll have to keep trying until you figure out the best practices, guidelines, and tools that work well for you and your team.
And if you feel like you're not as efficient or productive as you we're hoping to be by now, that's perfectly normal as well. It's not always easy to be thrown into such a drastic transition such as this, especially if you also have a huge list of personal things to take care of on top of it all. But just give it all some time, and hopefully, with the help of these tips and tools, you'll be back to maximum efficiency in no time!
Here are some more articles that might be helpful…
Let's bring the spotlight to your business today.
From brainstorming to implementation, AnoLogix has successfully designed, created, developed and implemented websites for people and businesses since 2000.
With AnoLogix your business can skyrocket. Do you want to learn how we can help?