Twelve tips for making remote working work.
Staying productive when you’re working from home takes effort. This is particularly true when you’re not used to it, or when you’re the outlier in an organisation that is mostly office based.
I live in Scotland but my organisation’s HQ is in London, and as a result I spend the majority of my time working either from home or on the road.
This has huge benefits for me and my family in terms of flexibility, but there’s no denying it makes collaboration and teamwork harder.
Over the years I’ve learned what I need to do to stay on top of things, and adopted some habits that help me and my teams work effectively.
Since those of us with office jobs are likely to be spending a lot more time working from home in the weeks ahead, here are my tips for making remote working work.
The first rule of remote working is demand equal treatment. Make it clear that if someone would ask something of you in the office, they should feel equally able to ask it of you when you’re working remotely.
The second rule of remote working is deliver equal commitment. If you’d do something for someone if you were in the office, you should be equally prepared to do it for them even if you’re working remotely.
Apart, perhaps, from making the tea.
Your office has proper desks and ergonomically designed chairs for a reason: back pain is not cool. If you have a desk at home then use it; if you have a monitor and keyboard for your laptop then use them too.
It’s your responsibility to make sure you can work effectively. Don’t be the one who requires a dial in for meetings and then shows up late because you can’t work your computer; if you need help from IT then ask for it.
Office 365 and G Suite both support live editing, history, comments and @mentions. It’s not quite the same as jamming together around a whiteboard, but it’s pretty close (and arguably sometimes better).
Someone needs to talk something over? Jump on a short call there and then if you can. If you’re using Zoom then your personal meeting room is always available, just keep the link handy and share it when required.
I guarantee your laptop’s microphone is terrible! Do other people a favour by making it possible for them to actually hear you. A spare pair of iPhone earbuds works great, an echo-cancelling speakerphone is even better.
The visual cues we send each other when we talk really matter. You wouldn’t sit round a boardroom table with a paper bag on your head, so if you’re on a video call don’t sit there with your camera off.
If you do a lot of video calls it’s better not to look like a ringwraith. If your background is very bright then use something to illuminate your face from the front. Bounce a desk lamp off a light surface, or get a selfie light.
An important part of being at work is talking about other stuff! Create opportunities for people to shoot the breeze – virtual cuppas included – and to discover things they wouldn’t otherwise encounter.
No commute: win. Indoors all day: massive fail. Make sure you find time to get out and stretch your legs. If you’re a runner, these guided runs from Headspace will help build your mental strength at the same time.
I’d love to hear your tips for remote working too! Message me @clry2