Five Tips for Success While Working Remotely

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Mid-July marks four months of working from home for many of us, with many office workers working from home indefinitely due to COVID-19. Some major companies, such as Shopify, have announced they are permanently moving to a work-from-home model.  While you may have established a routine by now, we have some tips to help you stay productive, happy and focused while working from home.

We hosted a free webinar all about how to get more out of working remotely. This webinar is part of a larger campaign to help residents of York Region adjust to the ‘new normal’ of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have webinars on cycling and the benefits of walking, as well as a design contest to challenge those who live or work in York Region to share their vision of how you hope to travel across the region. Learn more about our Design the New Normal campaign here.

Create the space

Here are some things you can do to improve your makeshift workspace if you don’t have a dedicated home office:

  • Invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones
  • Raise your laptop up on a stack of books to improve your posture or buy a laptop stand
  • Use an external keyboard and mouse

Establish a routine

Try going for a brief walk before work, and make sure to take breaks and incorporate movement into your day so you are not sitting for long periods of time.

Limit distraction during video calls

You may be finding that video calls are more tiring than in person meetings. This is because you have a lot more distractions (other browser tabs open, being able to see into your colleagues’ houses, plus video calls make you aware of your own facial expressions). A Harvard Business Review article about combatting ‘Zoom fatigue’ recommends the following:

  • Close all unnecessary tabs: Avoid the temptation to scroll through social media or browse news sites during your meeting.
  • Take breaks from looking at your video call by looking away from your screen or minimizing the window. Let your eyes rest for a few moments
  • Hide your view of your own face on video calls. This helps you focus on what is being said, rather than how you look!

Use office hours for better team collaboration

Working remotely can make it more difficult to stay connected to your coworkers.

Instead of increasing the number of meetings and emails which can reduce the amount of productive time in a day, try borrowing the concept of “office hours” from academia. In this system, you post regular times you are available for unscheduled calls or video conferences. If a colleague needs to talk through a problem, she can wait until your office hours instead of potentially interrupting you when you are focusing.

Have ground rules for your children

Here are some things you can do to make it a bit easier when working with kids at home. For more tips, check out this resource.

  • Establish ground rules: Make sure your kids know when they can and cannot interrupt you unless there is an emergency. For example, they know they cannot interrupt when your door is shut, or when your headphones are on. Let them know ahead of time when you have a meeting and can’t be interrupted.

  • Break up your day so you spend time together throughout the day. Spend time together at lunch and snack times and try to set aside shorter periods of time for uninterrupted work time.

  • Create a checklist so kids know what you expect them to do when you are working

The future of work

Remote work can require a change to the way we approach work and team collaboration. When you don’t see your colleagues, it can be easy to lose track of who is working on what, and how it’s going.

Web services such as Trello, Microsoft Flow and Asana can help teams stay organized and transparent by showing each task as a card on a digital bulletin board. This can avoid work overload and encourages a work culture where staff work deeply on a smaller number of tasks.

Our Design the New Normal campaign seeks to help those who live or work in York Region adjust to life during COVID-19 and beyond. This productivity webinar is the first in a series of webinars. Learn more about upcoming webinars here.

Photo by Mikey Harris on Unsplash

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