In hopes of containing the Coronavirus and keeping the global economy as stable as possible, many businesses are working remotely and doing their part to limit unnecessary person-to-person interactions by social distancing. While employees may feel less anxious about contracting the virus or even excited to cut out their commutes, adjusting to working remotely after working in an office is not an easy transition, even if it’s only for a brief period. Just like in most disruptions to routines, productivity can be a problem as individuals figure out what works best for them in their new set ups.
The good thing is since the rise of incredible internet apps like Whatsapp, Facebook and Vectera, remote work is made possible and very efficient. Many people have transitioned to working remotely before and have come out productively on the other side. We know a little bit about working remotely as all our designers work remotely all over the world, whether that be in their homes or at co-working spaces, cafes or even on the road. Here are some of our best #remotelife tips on tackling the most common problems…
The problem: Isolation
Siree Telley, arcadia.design’s lead graphic designer said that starting at the company was a drastic transition for her, especially as her previous jobs were at high-touch, shoulder-to-shoulder environments that rely upon a kind of physical “mind-meld.” In offices, employees shape their creative problem-solving muscles by arguing, commiserating, and celebrating together. Even seemingly non-work activities like grabbing coffee or lunch or going on an impromptu karaoke outing together can help develop non-verbal unique communication skills between coworkers.
However, when workers go remote, these daily opportunities are gone. And since the onus is on the individual, it’s likely they’ll choose to focus their time on “work” rather than relationship building, meaning they often feel disconnected from coworkers and spend more time communicating and aligning than they would in an office.
Solution: Digital tools for connection
To help push past a sense of isolation while working remotly, Siree says explicit time and attention must be given to creating and maintaining meaningful relationships and communication skills. Connection to colleagues can start in small ways, like live chatting throughout the day to see how people are doing, hopping on Vectera to say hello, and sharing stupid memes and stories. Instead of “mind melding” in a conference room, employees will need to over communicate transparently, so nothing falls through the cracks.
Problem: Lack of structure
Karyn Ketone, lead web designer at arcadia.design, says that impromptu sessions in a co-located office help maintain a sense of constant ideation and space for alignment, tackling issues as they arise. However, these are few and far between in a distributed workforce.
Solution: Regularly scheduled check-ins with flexible agendas
Working remotely, Karyn found that putting standing one-on-ones on the calendar allowed informal chats to happen on a more regular cadence. While not everything may be shared during this meeting, it also opens the line of communication for sporadic messages throughout the week. For these updates, she recommends creating a live chat group or DM with your colleagues to document issues as they arise. “If needed, teammates initiate a call and others can jump on,” Karyn says.
The problem: Burnout
For Ann Suri, arcadia.design’s head of customer support, one of the biggest shifts for working remotely was actually the lack of disruptions through the day. “From when I log on in the morning to when I sign off at night, I am super focused on getting things done.” she says. And while that may seem like a benefit, it also leads to less than ideal outcomes like forgetting to eat, being sedentary all day, or working late into the night; all things that heighten the risk of burnout.
The solution: Time-blocking
Ann found that, to be productive working remotely, building time into her calendar to get up, walk around, go outside, ensures that she has some time away from the screen that allows her mind to wander. “When I honor that time, I always feel refreshed and recharged.” she says.
Ultimately, when it comes down to it, the secret to working remotely is treating it like you would at your office. That can mean things as small and significant as getting showered and dressed before signing on, to bigger actions like frequently asking your manager for formal and informal feedback (and giving it back to them, too). While your work from home situation may be temporary, good habits and discipline practiced while at home can translate to making strides in your career when you’re back at the office.
Remote work resources from around the web.
The future of remote work in the wake of Coronavirus. Read more
How to work from home with your kids during the coronavirus outbreak. Read more
The Art Of Working Remotely: How To Ensure Productivity. Read more