How to be a Remote Work Allstar
Secrets of success in the #WFH lifestyle
COVID-19 has forced many people to work from home. While this concept is new to some and there has been a learning curve of understanding how to be productive and balance your day, the work from home life has been on the rise for others.
I've been a proponent for telecommuting for years when I was in-house for companies and then living out the remote life as a consultant. While there are some perks and visions of remote workers lounging around wrapped in a blanket (fact: I do some of my best writing when I'm comfortable), there are some helpful ways to transition to working from home when you are used to a traditional office environment. The designated 9-to-5, sit at your desk does not necessarily equate to value production. You can work from your home office, in a coffee shop, or on a beach where you can deliver the best performance and don’t have to spend extra time commuting to a physical workspace every day.
While being forced to work from home abruptly due to a crisis and when the rest of the world is on lockdown is not ideal, imagine choosing or being able to work from home once things get back to normal. You can start the day being productive instead of fighting with traffic.
The Difference Between Traditional and Remote Jobs The sole mantra of success to any business comes from having a workforce with exceptional communication and collaboration skills, along with maintaining their work productivity. Keeping this in view, let's elaborate on these touchpoints to explain the difference between the traditional and a remote work job experience. Things happen quite differently during remote work as compared to the mainstream working style. When working in a traditional office, you are designated either a cubicle or office to decorate with a few pictures and belongings. You eat lunch with the same people and options of where to eat are limited. When you work remotely, you can actually handpick your workplace -- do you want to stay at your house in an office or do you want to work from your couch, perhaps you want to get out of the house and go to a coffee shop or public place to not be isolated.
Another key difference in shifting to remote work is becoming a self-starter and more disciplined. Not having someone look over your shoulder or pop into your office at random whims could persuade some people to be more lax in their routine. If you're not rushing to get something done because you have to get out of the office by a certain time to beat traffic, you may be likely to have less urgency. It's important to know your priorities for the day and week, set and make deadlines, and realize what potential distractions you may need to conquer.
Communication in a Remote Team
If you’re in a 9-to-5 corporate scenario, then communication is quite easy. If you had any doubt, you’ll just walk up to your colleague’s desk and ask away. But when you are working remotely, things might be different. In a remote work environment, all the communication happens in written form and mostly over a cloud-based tool. And if you do not have any designated tool, things can get really cluttered. For instance, if you need an urgent piece of information from someone, you are most likely to send an email. But the reply cannot be expected within a few minutes. The result? Your work gets delayed! So it becomes imperative to set clear communication guidelines when working in a remote team.
Platforms like Slack allow for chatting and instant replies to questions that teams may have. My one client limits internal emails to things that need to be saved for the future or are of high importance. They have reduced their internal email traffic by 90% but because it's so infrequent, opens and replies are quicker.
Collaboration in a Remote Team How do you collaborate while working remotely? How do you conduct virtual meetings? Are the tools to achieve remote success difficult to use? These are a few questions you might be asking as you navigate remote life.
Some suggestions for tools based on your needs are:
Project management: if you have many functions and teams who need to collaborate on a deadline and project, Trello can help keep everyone and thing on task.
Document storage: I use Google for my email and so do my tech clients. Google Suite allows us to easily share, collaborate, and store files.
Videos: Zoom can help you record meetings, video chats, and webinars.
Password sharing: 1Password allows all team members shared access to logins as well as personal settings for their own passwords.
Chatting: As mentioned under collaboration, Slack can be used to have team or topic specific channels and even video calls. You can also connect your CRM and other platforms to send you messages via Slack.
Work Productivity in a Remote Team
Remote workers can be more productive than traditional office employees as they don’t have to spend time in office politics, dodge their boss, or count down the hours until it's quitting time just for the sake of staying until 5 pm. Remote workers also tend to be less stressed as they don’t spend time commuting and can choose their own workspace and time schedule. But it doesn’t mean that there will be no distractions. Remote workers have to stay self-motivated along with maintaining their productivity. It’s challenging but not impossible.
Remote work is not a simple or ongoing trend. It has been on the rise, but the coronavirus has escalated its importance. It is a revolution in the work culture, and people choose it for a reason. It brings in flexibility to work like never before and has a lot in store for organizations, individuals, and teams. Once the pandemic shifts back and companies open up physical locations again, I wonder how many will offer remote work as an option?
If you are passionate about the concept of remote work, looking for a remote job, how to build a remote team, or how to scale a remote company, check out the Remote Work Summit. They've been holding it for three years now and have a round-up of speakers. It's free to live-stream, or you can pay a fee to have access to the content forever.