During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic many of us are facing the sudden imposition of remote work. For some people that also means being in isolation with partners, housemates, children, and parents, so it’s important to set some boundaries to enable you and those around you to get through the days effectively.
Without clear boundaries and routine to mark the start of your workday and the end, it’s very easy for remote workers to always be on the clock, to feel guilty that they should be or not know how to separate work from homelife.
As a successful digital marketing agency that has long championed working remotely here are a few tips we’ve learned along the way.
First things first, it’s important to implement a set work hours and stick to them. You know when you are most productive, so schedule your day around your most productive time. This could be through prioritising your most important tasks for when you are most productive.
Remember to add your work hours to your email signature too.
Depending on your company culture, you may find that people’s expectations of a response vary, so having that information on your signature alleviates the pressure you might feel to reply out of your work hours.
It’s a good idea to also manage expectations regarding your availability whilst working from home. Try to avoid “just nipping out to the shops” or “just watching one episode” etc. It’s important to maintain your focus as you would in the office so let others in your house know your set work hours too.
These actions can help you to differentiate between work time and home time.
Shared calendars are a great benefit to remote teams in order to see others' availability. Platforms such as Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook make this very easy but if you prefer, a simple spreadsheet will suffice.
Depending on what task management systems your company has in place, you can even use tools like Zapier to update employee’s Slack status based on Google Calendar entries and then report in Hubstaff. Other platforms have close integration built in for example, Microsoft Teams automatically integrates with Exchange calendars.
Remember to take regular breaks so that you’re not chained to the desk for the entire duration of the working day. Get up, walk around, and move your body. Working from it can be very easy to get sucked in to being more sedentary than usual as your working life and connections are all online.
We recommend starting your day as you mean to go and using your (former) commuting time as freed up time to exercise, if you can get outside for some fresh air then even better.
Working at home, naturally your steps are going to be fewer than if you were travelling to work, walking around the office or nipping to grab some lunch. A walk/bike ride/run or whatever form exercise you prefer is a great way to “bookend” the working day effectively, by providing a natural mental separation between home life and work life.
Remote working has been steadily growing in popularity, enabled by a whole host of digital tools of virtually every description, from Web conferencing and e-mail to mobile collaboration applications and virtual event platforms. So although remote working may be as a result of the pandemic, enjoy having the opportunity to be flexible and efficient in your work.