Culture

How to Start Remote Work at Your Company

Paula Tena
March 17th 2020

Establish a Schedule

If this is your first time working from home, it’s best to first set some ground rules. To fully capitalize on your productivity, create a schedule and to-do lists for upcoming projects. Utilizing a scheduling tool like Google Calendar is an excellent way to manage your time. This tool is an efficient and easy way to keep team members on the same page. You can share your calendar with multiple teammates and have access to each other’s availability.
Another program worth considering is Trello. At Vincit, our team uses Trello to manage both individual and group work. Through Trello, you can organize tasks, make comments, attach documents, create checklists, assign new projects to team members and more.
In addition to this, it is also important to keep your working routine as intact as possible, which means take clear breaks! While some may argue that employees will slack off when they work remotely, it’s important to remember that breaks will happen and are necessary. Basecamp Co-founder Jason Fried argues that the “work itself [should be] the yardstick to judge someone’s performance.” To avoid burnout, take a fifteen minute walk every few hours around your backyard, stretch, or grab a light snack to help you recharge for your next task. It’s important to remember that what ultimately matters is the work that is produced, not how many brief moments you spent making coffee. If you're feeling stuck on a task, maybe a quick break is just what you need to release some new energy or creativity.

Create an Ideal Work Environment

Before you begin working, find a dedicated area in your home to replicate (or get close to) a traditional office experience.
  1. Find a space that is well lit and away from noise and distraction.
  2. Make sure you have all the proper technical equipment set up: a computer, reliable WiFi, docking devices, monitors, chargers, video conferencing programs, printers, and etc. Office essentials should stay close by for easy accessibility.
  3. Set up an ergonomically correct workstation. If you like to sit for the majority of your work day, find a comfortable chair and adjust your desk to elbow height. Your thighs and lower legs should rest at a ninety degree angle. If you prefer to stand, adjust the top of the monitor at eye level, use a standing mat, and wear comfortable shoes to avoid discomfort.
  4. Get comfortable...but not too comfortable. As tempting as it is, try not to work from bed. Not only is it bad for your posture, but it could hamper productivity and can affect work-life balance by disrupting the boundaries between work and rest. Work attire also seems to be a hot topic of debate for remote workers. I guess it all boils down to that famous philosophical saying: “If I wear pajamas while answering emails and no one sees it, did I even wear pajamas?” I’m kidding of course but in all seriousness, it’s a good habit to “dress for work” and gear up for the day ahead.
  5. Communicate expectations to anyone living in your home. Make sure roommates, spouses, friends or dogs (somewhat kidding) know that just because you are home doesn’t mean you are away from work. Set necessary boundaries and communicate what your work hours will be.

Actively Communicate with your Team

We’ve all said it, communication is key! When working alone, it’s hard to not get wrapped up in your own personal bubble and have an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Maintaining active communication and visibility with your team and clients should be a top priority. Encourage everyone to give feedback and have frequent conversations.
While emailing is a convenient and universal form of communication, you shouldn’t rely on this alone. Nowadays, there are newer (and some might even argue) better ways to connect.
  1. Slack - This simplified chat tool has been increasingly popular and used by several companies. Everything you love about email, text messaging, and instant messaging can all be found through this app. Have a quick question? You can ping individual team members or department specific channels without being tangled in multiple email threads. Throw in a meme or emoji every now and then for some added fun!
Someone forgot to caption me
  1. Video Conferencing - Sometimes text based communication can be misinterpreted or misunderstood. Written words can’t accurately convey emotional cues, intent, emotions, expressions, and gestures. Break the barrier by using video conferencing programs like Google Hangouts, Skype or Facetime.
  2. Phone Calls - If all else fails, a good old fashioned phone call is fast and simple!
As a remote employee, you should also try to schedule some time in your workday for “water cooler chats”. Getting to know your coworkers on a personal level creates a harmonious sense of community in the workplace and enhances company culture. Perhaps you can use this opportunity to get some good recommendations on shows to binge watch on Netflix.
My personal favorite: NBC’s The Office
My personal favorite: NBC’s The Office

Summary

Adjusting to a new way of “work” can take some time and initially seem daunting, especially if you work in an industry that hasn’t utilized or allowed for remote work in the past. However, don’t let these small challenges discourage you from having a successful telecommuting experience. By actively participating in discussions, staying organized, being accountable, and working strategically, anyone can make a smooth transition.

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