Hi! It’s been a while between blog posts for me.
Given the current COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world and the high likely hood that a lot of people will be working from home in the next little while, I thought it was time to share some content that I’ve learnt and shared at various conferences and meetups over the past couple of years on remote working.
For a lot of people working remotely or at home will be a new experience so here are 10 tips that you might find helpful.
Start by planning your day and prepare like you’re going to the office
Set a schedule just like you would if you were going to be in the office.
- Do you have meetings?
- When is your focus time?
- Set some goals for the day – what do you want to get done?
If you’re working from home make it feel different to domestic life.
- Have a shower, get dressed and prepare just like you would if you had to commute to the office.
- Some people I know leave their house and go for a short walk to make it feel like they’re leaving for work.
Come together face to face as a team (virtual standup)
If you’re working in a team time spent together is important to build and maintain relationships.
- Not all teams start their day with a standup, however during a period where we are all working remote you could introduce it as a way to meet and start your day together.
- Keep the standup short (time box to it to 15 minutes).
- The standard format is asking each person – what do you plan to do today (your focus), what you achieved yesterday, do you need help.
- Avoid status updates such as I have this meeting and that meeting, or listing out what’s in your calendar.
- You could also use this as an opportunity to check-in and see that everyone is doing ok.
Be as visual as possible when in video calls (hangouts), meetings etc..
- Turn on your web camera – it helps build a better connection with others, in particular when you can’t be in the same room or location.
- Mute your microphone if you’re somewhere noisy. It’s also good practice in team meetings as it let’s others know that you want to speak (by un-muting).
Work out loud
Working out loud helps to break the feeling of isolation and also shares the progress you are making.
- Communicate your movements e.g. in your team’s slack or messenger channel, say hi and goodbye just like you would if you were in the office.
- Share your progress as you go – what are you working on, how are you going with it, do you need help, would you like someone to review something.
- If you are using Slack or another messenger app, try using presences (emojis) to create awareness about what’s happening for you at the moment e.g. are you in meetings, having focus time, at lunch, etc.
Avoid back to back meetings (where possible)
- You might find yourself sitting in the same place for hours on end.
- With no moving between meeting rooms or places to work you might experience very little time for a mental refresh.
- Try scheduling meetings for 5 past and close at 5 to the hour to allow for breaks e.g. if the meeting was meant to be an hour long.
If you’re facilitating a remote meeting or workshop, slow down.
- Give people space to answer and ask questions. They might need some time to think or unmute.
Do you need to update your team’s working agreements?
A working agreement is a social contract that teams use to define how they best work with each other.
- If everyone is remote does this change how we currently work and communicate with each other, do we need to be mindful of anything new?
- Here is a reference for creating team working agreements via Collaboration Superpowers
Virtual Water Cooler or place to hangout
If you’re working remotely and feel isolated try creating a virtual water cooler. Just like the kitchen in your office it’s a good place for a conversation with a team mate.
- If you’re using Slack or another messenger app setup a video conference link and place it in the topic of your teams channel, with the label virtual water cooler. Let your team mates know that this is a place they can come for an informal conversation if they need it. We use meet by Google which is pretty easy to navigate: https://meet.google.com/
Get an insight into your teammate’s world.
Working remotely is a great way to get to know people. If folks are open to it (never force it), ask them to:
- Show us where you live.
- Take us outside for a tour.
- Share photos of workspaces.
- Meet their family or pets.
- Play some icebreakers.
Know when to stop – don’t burn out.
Working long hours isn’t sustainable, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
- Take regular breaks.
- Get out of the house if you can for some fresh air.
- Get some excerise.
- Create a finish line for your day – just like you would if you’re planning to leave the office to commute home.
- When you’re done for the day put your laptop away so you’re not tempted to keep working.
Whether it’s your first time working remotely or you’re an experienced campaigner I hope you find these tips helpful.
If you have tips for remote working that you’d like to share I’d love to hear them either via a comment on this post or on twitter where you can find me @jhyett.
Thanks for reading and take care.