The COVID-19 outbreak has forced companies across the nation to practice social distancing and many employees are now required to work from home. For those who are not used to working remote, there can be concern around keeping operations aligned and productivity at the forefront.
For us at KORTX, working remote is not necessarily a new concept. From Detroit to D.C., many of our employees are spread out across the country. We understand how to connect from an internal standpoint and how to support our clients externally. We have structured our processes in a way that have prepared us for situations such as COVID-19 where each and every one of us is required to work remote.
We have all been confronted with an issue of enormous scale and are currently dealing with disruptions in our day-to-day operations. To create a little clarity and comfort during a time of crisis, we wanted to share a few tips and tricks we've learned as a remote organization throughout the years.
Rely on your calendar and plan out your day ahead of time. This will help keep you on track and allow you to check things off your to-do list. What are you going to accomplish in the morning? When are you going to eat lunch? When will you stop working? Having a set schedule can help you avoid distractions and set you up for success.
Define your routine and stick to it. If you're someone who goes to bed early, keep doing that so you're able to wake up at your usual time. Schedule time for your morning workouts, your morning coffee, your morning walk with your dog as you normally would. Avoid sleeping in or lingering over breakfast and get to work.
If you're someone who has a difficult time getting in the 'working' mindset while at home, create a workspace that looks and feels like your office. For some, this might mean de-cluttering your space, lighting a candle, setting up an extra monitor or turning off the morning news. While you might be drawn to the idea of staying in bed with your laptop, we suggest steering away from this as you might end up wanting to cuddle up for a nap instead. It's important to set yourself up in a comfortable and stress-free space that allows you to concentrate and remain productive.
From Google Hangouts to Zoom, there are many screen-share and videoconferencing platforms. Whether you're checking in with a colleague or conducting a sales call with a potential client, it's crucial to follow best practices. Make sure to mute yourself when you're not speaking. Use a headset if there is a lot of noise behind you. Make sure your background is not distracting such as a bright window giving off a harsh glare. Remember proper etiquette and dress appropriately. Videoconferences can help when you feel isolated as they offer somewhat of a human connection. Learn to embrace the webcam, just make sure you're following protocol!
Since your colleague is no longer sitting right next to you, it's important to have a digital platform that allows you to chat with team members instantly. Platforms such as Slack make instant-messaging easy and allow you to upload documents and other attachments. We at KORTX have a 'general' channel for easy communication between the entire organization.
It's also important to have a tool in place that organizes task lists for teams. We use Jira but there are other options in the marketplace such as Basecamp or Trello. These platforms are important as they allow team members to assign projects, add due dates and provide feedback all in one place. They provide visibility and help keep things organized that otherwise might get lost in email conversations. Don't be afraid to over-communicate with your colleagues to ensure everyone is aligned.
Take breaks. Get some fresh air if you're able to. Avoid cabin fever and go for a walk. Schedule time to eat lunch. It's important to break up the day as you normally would to avoid fatigue, anxiety or claustrophobia.
If you get distracted easily, get up and get ready for work every morning like you are actually going into the office. Take a shower and get dressed. Move your body and drink lots of water. Make sure you aren't just eating from your stocked pantry out of boredom. Don't let boredom or stress lead you to impulsive behaviors.
It's easy to shift working hours when you're home. Define the end of your day as you normally would. Don't expect people to respond to messages if you know you're sending them outside of normal working hours. Turn off notifications at the end of the day. Be respectful of other's time and expect them to do the same.
If your company has the right technology in place and you use these tools at your disposal, you should be in good shape when it comes to communicating digitally and working remote. If you're an organization trying to transition quickly in the wake of COVID-19, please feel free to reach out and we'll share some additional tools, tips and tricks for conquering the remote lifestyle.