Thriving as a Remote Team
In the wake of the significant changes to our lives due to Covid-19 many of us are transitioning to working remotely from colleagues and teams. We believe that despite it being unfamiliar ground and possibly a daunting prospect for many, there are some opportunities as we learn to work more seamlessly without relying on physical presence.
From our experience working with remote teams we believe that here are a few key steps that individuals can take to make this a more rewarding and successful shift:
Planning and timing:
Without the familiar patterns of getting up, going to work, and returning home it can be hard to establish good boundaries between work and home. So:
- Create a structure for the day, ideally adopting as close to the same routine as before e.g. getting up and starting work at the same time
- Use what would have been commute time to read, listed to a podcast, learn something new, do some exercise, social media - though beware of getting too engaged
- Build in time for lunch and breaks
- Be strict about the end of the working day; shut the computer off, stop checking emails, and 'finish working' at the normal time
- Consider assigning time slots to tasks. When working at home alone, the time can really run away quite easily
- Set boundaries. There can be a tendency for other people to view "working from home" as "having a slow day", and so interrupt with non-work related issues. Maintain the 'working day' and handle these interruptions outside of that time
- Change out of pyjamas. It may seem silly, but getting dressed, even smart-casually, creates a shift in mindset!
- Take regular mini-breaks to get movement into the day - it can be surprising how much we move in a work environment
- Have a proper lunch break. Move to a different physical space, go outside....make a conscious break - more so than is often the case at work. Beware of idle snacking!
- Find creative ways to exercise / get some fresh air within the government guidelines
- Limit the frequency and length of time spent on radio / tv news - just enough to get the practical update and advice you need, and then switch off
Establish a designated work-space
- As far as possible, create a work-space, separated from the rest of the home. It's important to have some sort of physical boundary particularly away from bedrooms, kitchen and the TV
- Create explicit agreements at the start, with other members of the household, about the use of rooms, mealtimes, time on family activities and solo activities so that everyone gets what they need to thrive.
- Ensure other members of the family who may be at home - including children - are aware of the physical boundary...and the time boundaries! This may become even more important if more than one family member is working from home as schools close
Working from home can be lonely, and having no colleagues or teammates to talk to can be emotionally exhausting. In this novel environment it can be difficult to maintain the same level of focus as at a normal place of work, and being removed from other team members can make connection and collaboration more complex.
So, it may help to try and schedule at least one regular call or meeting with teammates, that is not about work, just to connect. Although you will speak about work-related issues in much of your day-to-day communication, the water-cooler or coffee moments will be lost. Talking often to others is important for positivity, productivity and wellbeing.
Working from home...even under the label of self-isolation....doesn't have to be lonely and isolating. With some careful planning, monitoring and good leadership it can be a rewarding and energising experience.
If you have any questions or need support with remote working please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With best wishes for your health and wellbeing...
The Eluminas Team