7 habits of a successful remote worker
The last few weeks have changed our normal workday routines very drastically and quickly due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. Some companies have mandated working remotely, which can be challenging and difficult for some. Being in the right mental headspace can not only affect an individual’s mood, but can also impact work performance. It’s essential for one’s wellbeing and their employment to follow the 7 habits outlined below to be successful as a remote worker:
Wake up consistently
Seems like a simple ask, but we often tend to become a little lazy when working from home. It can be easier to hit the ‘snooze’ button and tell ourselves to sleep in a bit longer when we do not have to shower, get ready and commute to an office. Consistency is key and it is highly encouraged to wake up and get out of bed Monday through Friday at the same time each day. When you went into the office or to a client site, you had the same routine, keep it up. If you woke up at 6:30 a.m., do the same, even if you’re only walking 15 feet to your computer.
Time to plan the day – create balance
Since you’re waking up at the same time, this gives you a few extra minutes to plan your day. Do not immediately open the computer and start working. Make your coffee or tea, have some breakfast, write out “to-do’s,” add items to your personal Kanban (physical or digital) or even read a book! This separates work from home.. This will allow you to have some personal time to wake up and get your day going before opening the laptop, checking emails and having meetings.
Hygiene & appearance
Yes…this may seem a little silly, but it is very important to get ready in the mornings especially in a virtual/remote working world. It is still pertinent to connect with coworkers or clients even if that means having to embrace the new virtual “face-to-face” communication. One easy and simple way to do so is to turn the video on during conference calls and in meetings. You’re more likely to turn the video on if you’re showered, dressed, looking and feeling your best!
Dedicated work space
How often have you worked from your bed or at the kitchen table when working remotely? Did you find working that way to be burdensome? Perhaps you also felt less motivation? It is critical to arrange a dedicated work station in your home similar to your office setup.
A dedicated workspace can mean many different things; try to replicate your typical work environment with a desk, dual monitors, keyboard/mouse and lighting (such as a lamp or near a window) as much as possible. Even if you need to put a desk in your room, rearrange the room to accommodate the space required to work efficiently. If your camera is on, make sure the background is appropriate and professional (do not show your coworkers or a client your unmade bed or pile of clothes on the floor).
Wayfair has many different desk options for a reasonable price and will deliver right to your house; same with Amazon and Ikea. I have had a standing desk for many years, specifically an Ikea standing desk that I would highly recommend. Ikea permits one to choose the size and color of your preference. When I do not feel like standing, I have a ball to sit on, which leads me to the next very important habit.
Get up and move! Whatever that means to you, make it a habit. If that means doing planks, wall ball-squats or ab exercises (maybe even with your office ball seat – dual purpose!), push-ups, running or going for a walk every couple hours, make it happen.
Stay visible and communicate often
Hopefully your company has tools in place to facilitate a seamless remote/virtual environment. Tools such as Teams, Slack, Zoom and WebEx have fun and productive ways to stay connected. For instance, Teams or Slack lets you create team channels for engagements/projects you’re working on, chat or tell jokes with others or to schedule virtual happy hours. When you’re on a video conference platform like Zoom or WebEx, make sure your video is on to stay engaged with face-to-face communication (why do you think you showered and are looking your best? To be seen by the world…aka coworkers).
Shut the work computer down
In my opinion, this is the most important habit to adhere to if none of the others. Let work time be work time and home time be home time. It does not create a sustainable work environment for yourself and others if you’re sending emails at 8p.m. or 11:30p.m. This sends a message that you do not respect the time of others because they will likely feel obligated to respond..
Imagine if your work computer, laptop or PC remained on your office desk each day and you did not have access to your work email on your smart phone. When you turned your computer off and left the office, that would be the end of your work day. You may commute home, listen to music, go to the gym, spend time with your family, go to a happy hour, make dinner, meal prep for the next day’s lunch and relax. Do the same thing with your virtual/remote environment. Unplug and enjoy work/life balance. You have to create this for yourself. You, your family and significant others will be much happier you did.
Stay healthy and remain optimistic it’s important we do so to persevere through this hard time.