Remote work for beginners: Coronavirus edition

Remote work is what everyone does these days, regardless of their industry, preference, or possibilities. It has become a must this spring, and many are struggling to remain operational, with the whole team dispersed and out of the office.

The following article will help you set up for success and stay married and sane. And employed 🙂

Organizing work time

Work hours should be as similar to the regular office hours as possible. For the most part, it’s a matter of routine, and sticking to it will make everyone reachable within the same time box.

Make room for work

Claiming a room or a corner for work is what comes first. Conquer the territory and establish dominance. Having a nook for work is fundamental for two reasons: It will put you in the right state of mind and help you “leave the office” once you physically leave the room. This will also signal your family that you are “at work” and best not disturbed. It might take some time for your family members to realize that constant interruptions will have you work longer and take away from your family time, but your spouse can help immensely, provided he/she got used to it first.

No office hours

Work-life balance may be put to the test during this forced isolation, and you do not want to develop an impression or a habit of working around the clock.

It goes without saying that your family should get your undivided attention once the office hours are done.

Make sure you resist the urge to hop to the office “just to check that little something.” We all know this just-to-check-something monster will eat your day away and spit you out, useless for anything else. No one wins here, so write it down and put it on a fridge, or stick it to the door. You’ll do it tomorrow.

Your family will enjoy having you for themselves, and this time will enable you to unwind and recharge.

Dealing with distractions and interruptions

Let’s be honest, having small kids around the house, and working as if they’re not there is almost impossible. However, you can do a couple of things to make it work.

If your spouse is at home and not keeping the same work hours, then you’re quite lucky. While they do the parenting thing, you can do the working thing. A good headset is going to be a bonus here since you can cut off the noise and listen to some nice music. All guilt-free package. Make sure your partner gets the same treatment once you’re off work.

If both of you keep the same hours, or you’re a single parent, then some additional effort must be put into organizing things. In this case, kids should be assigned with some meaningful and fun tasks, and you should use this time for work. Frequent breaks are going to be a must, but once everyone settles into this routine, you’ll be able to have some deep-working time to do your job.

Try to organize the time for yourself

You need to prepare yourself both — mentally and physically every day. Keeping doing small things, like having a cold shower in the morning for 30–60 seconds, maybe meditating early in the morning while other family members are sleeping, and before going to bed, could help you to be stronger.

Organize some time so you can read books, try to learn new skills (playing the piano, the guitar, how to write a book, etc.). If you own a startup or a company, go back to foundations, try to review the last few months and the last year of your business, see what you can improve, how you can make things better. There is no better time to do that.

Communication

Working remotely is going to test your communication skills for sure. If you haven’t already been using some communication tools (like Trello, Slack, or even Viber or Skype), you’ll have to do it now.

It’s imperative to decide on just one tool for the whole organization (we are using Slack), and establish communication channels to make communication flow effortlessly and as if people sit side by side. What needs to be clear to everyone is that communication is the pillar that will keep you standing through this work-from-home time. It’s crucial to establish good practice, too: make it clear, short, and efficient. Define reporting channels, timing, and teams, provide collaboration space (create groups or channels for teams exclusively), and give it some time.

If you are hosting some education sessions for your team or online meetings and webinars, try to make it more interesting for you and your audience (below you will find my improvisation for one of the webinars I hosted).

Do not forget that office banter is the pulse of the company, and having a channel or a group for that is essential. It will help not only to maintain high spirits of the team but also with the forced isolation we’re in for the time being.

Now more than ever, we need to feel we’re connected, heard, and seen. Recognized for the team members, employees, friends, and human beings that we are.

So, be polite, understanding, and accommodating to your colleagues, to your family members, to yourself.

Nikola Obradovic

Previously published on Medium on April 30, 2020

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