Remote Work 101
Are you making the most out of working remotely? Learn about what you can do to improve your work-life balance and your team's performance.
With the pandemic many things changed, one of those was the exponential increase in the number of companies allowing their employees to work from home (or elsewhere). In this article, I will be writing about how to make the most out of working remotely.
Remote-friendly is not remote-first
Is your company remote-friendly or remote-first? Well, they are not the same. The latter is a company that works mainly remotely and all its processes account for this fact. The former is an in-office company that is trying to adapt to modern times or the employees' needs. A remote-friendly company will not be as prepared or organized to operate remotely as one that was built on a remote basis.
In the former, there is the option to work remotely some days. The latter can either be fully remote with no office possibility or flexible allowing you to join the office whenever you feel like it.
Whilst some companies had to learn to transition to this new paradigm, some were born and molded in it. Either way, if your company is going remote it is good to think as a remote team, not a badly prepared adaptation.
So how can you make sure your company is ready to work remotely?
Autonomy and trust are key factors for the success of a remote team. Employees should be allowed to work when and where they want. Flexibility to leave and come back whenever you need as long as you get things done and are not missing meetings is a big plus. At the end of the day what we all want is for the team to be happy, learn, and build amazing products.
Connection, engagement, and appreciation are essential for the employees to feel valued and part of the team. Make sure everyone is well integrated and is being heard. Everyone’s hard work should be appreciated, not only by the project responsible and team leaders but also by each other inside the team. Creating a connection with the people you work with will go a long way.
Teamwork on a remote company
Remote doesn’t mean alone. You should still build strong relationships with the people you work closely with and talk to them probably every day. Hopefully also being able to see them personally at least a couple of times a month will help build a strong team morale.
Synchronous and asynchronous communication
To keep up with the team, communication methods have to be aligned. What is recommended is that your whole team has a time where their schedules meet the “normal working hours”.
For example — If the standard work schedule is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. then it would be reasonable to ask employees to be available for 4 of these hours, and during the rest of the time allowing them to work outside the regular schedule. Of course, this is just an example and it would depend on the meetings you have scheduled, the specifics of your job, and what is going on at the moment. The important thing is that both parties are reasonable and flexible enough.
On the time that people aren’t available at the same time, asynchronous communication methods are key. I would probably opt for a more direct work-related messaging service like Slack rather than email for this.
Useful remote tools
Communication is key, and as such, here are the main tools that facilitate it remotely: Microsoft Teams, Google Meets, Zoom, Slack, Discord, or a combination of them.
File management and sharing come next: Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive are some options.
Note sharing might also be important. Although some might keep notes in Google Drive or similar, you might want to use a note-sharing system like Notion or EverNote to keep everything tidy and accessible.
Let’s not forget about managing tasks with your team. For this, we can use some platform with a Kanban board for the modern Agile methodologies. Trello, JIRA, and ProofHub are some examples.
Improve your mental game
Because it is not only about the team but also about yourself and your day-to-day life. Here are some tips that might help you improve your work environment at home.
Differentiate your home environment from your working environment
So you just worked the whole day and are going to watch a bit of Netflix to relax. Totally fine, we don't judge. However, try to either change the place, maybe go to the sofa or just change your desk a bit. Make sure your brain recognizes the difference between “workplace” and “relax place”.
Have some respect for your free time
Just because you are working from the same place you relax doesn’t mean that you should be available 12 hours a day to work. Make sure you know your schedule for the day. You don’t have to plan a week ahead, but at the end of each day try to have a plan for the next one.
Go for a walk
When you are working remotely some days can get hectic and you will feel like you didn’t even have time to leave the house. Make sure you get some sun in the morning or at lunchtime. It will help you relax and be more productive after.
Take breaks, lots of them
Keep your mind energized. Stand up and go for a fresh glass of water. The time you take will be paid back two-fold in the productivity level of the next 30 minutes.
How is your remote experience?
Each person has their own ways of working. If something works for you, then keep at it! What are the things that you love and that make you productive while working remotely?