Learning To Cope With Remote Working

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It’s been a couple of hours since lunch. The delicious sandwich I ate is doing its thing – making my brain fog a little, body a bit lethargic, and raising the urge to get caffeine. All of this in my head while I still need to finish a presentation for the next meeting later in the day. As I make afternoon Indian-style Chai, I decide to take a peek at what’s going on in the Twitterverse. 45 minutes later, a calendar reminder breaks my “quick break.” Now, I gotta rush to be ready for that next meeting. Does this sound familiar?

We have all been here at one time or another. Not only can I relate, but I came up with ways to fix it for myself. I hope you find these relatable and easily adoptable.

Best Practices for Remote Working

Remote is helpful in many ways. To take full benefit requires focus and having a clear plan. Here are some steps to explore to stay productive and increase efficiency.

  • Morning Routine: Stick to your AM routine. Getting up at the same time, working out, and making coffee, etc. will help you get into the zone and do your best work. With the pressure to get ready and leave home to work at a particular time off, it is easy to give up on the morning rituals. But it is important to stick to the routine to start the morning in the right way.
  • Dedicated Space: Find a space that works best for you to work uninterrupted. It should have ample light and a comfortable sitting arrangement. It could be a corner in the bedroom, the breakfast area in the kitchen, or a part of the dining table in the living room. But have a dedicated spot that you ‘travel‘ to start your workday.
  • Structured Day:
    • Create a schedule: Have a schedule (ex: 8 AM -5 PM) and stick to it. Plan your work hours based on the needs of your team and work.
    • Group meetings: Meetings are a necessary evil. Whenever possible, group them in a day (only in the AM or PM). If your company culture allows, set up a no-meeting day or two. Make sure to communicate that to everyone who works with you. Ask for meeting agendas and, whenever possible, look to reduce meeting time.
    • Be Creative: If the meeting does not need you to be in front of a screen, take it over the phone. Audio-only meeting will allow you to get up and walk around. Keeping a count of steps in the day is a great way to motivate yourself and move around.
    • Focus Time: For many us, an activity won’t happen if it is not on our calendar. Depending upon your role, function, put a slot in your schedule to do focus work every day.
    • Take Breaks: You need to take breaks while working remotely. In the office, water/coffee breaks are part of the routine. The breaks help you break the continuous gaze from the screen and allow you to walk around. It would be best if you made a conscientious effort to that when working remotely. Better yet, schedule it on the calendar.
  • The new “Co-workers”: We often live with other people including significant others, roommates, and yes, kids. Working alongside these new “co-workers” requires planning and agreement. In general, communicate, set clear expectations, and provide continuous feedback.
    • Roommates: Choose times for common areas to be presentable and know who is going be where. Respect each other’s space and privacy.
    • Couples: Share a calendar and provide visibility to each other. Agree on how to resolve
      • clashing meeting times
      • who’s meeting takes priority
      • which meeting needs more focus and less noise
    • Families: Be flexible and adjust as needed. It is crucial to managing the schedule, especially with kids.

Companies/leadership teams must prevent fostering an ‘always-on‘ culture. Instead, they should allow and promote work-life integration. It leads to a healthy and focused workforce. For example, companies should normalize kids and pets to join the meetings. They should become part of your day, they are after all part of your life.

Build a culture that promotes work-life integration; be open for kids and pets to join the meetings and become part of your day, they are after all part of your life.

For a long time, we have taken work home; it is about time we also brought some home to work.

Common Pitfalls To Avoid While Working Remotely

  • Lack of structure
    • Inability to manage time and limit distractions
    • Ruthless prioritization of tasks
    • Know yourself (everyone works differently during a day; find your peaks and troughs, assign work accordingly)
    • Interruptions will happen; cut self-induced ones
    • Stop work at the designated time
  • Lack of infrastructure
    • A laptop that works – with audio and video
    • High-speed internet
    • A quiet area/place to focus
    • Appropriate seating and lighting

Besides reduced commute, remote work enables increased productivity and a healthier lifestyle. To avail the full benefit, you will need to create a plan, execute on it, and fine-tune based on learnings.

I would love to hear your hacks on being productive and efficient while working remotely.

You can listen to these and some more pointers covered in my chat on The Product Angle Show with the host Pradip Khakhar.

Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/@acreativegangster

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