Your company has announced that it will join the growing list of employers who have decided to allow employees to work from home for the remainder of this year. The benefits of working from home and the possibilities of improving your work/life balance are well documented when approached with the right mindset. How do you transition to become someone comfortable with working from home while maintaining the same levels of collaboration, communication, and productivity?
Before we start, let’s quickly summarize the three categories of remote work that companies fall under. Whether you’re a seasoned remote worker or new to it, one thing’s for sure. For remote working to truly work, it will take the right company culture that embraces this mindset so it’s good to understand where your company how it views itself.
Distributed company – In a fully distributed company, there is no physical office and every worker may be spread across different geographic locations and/or time zones. These workers may work from their homes or elsewhere such as coffee shops and co-working spaces.
Remote-friendly company – In a remote-friendly company (also known as a hybrid company), workers may be able to work from home partially and there could be multiple offices where they may be able to work out of. The company policies are flexible to accommodate where and when people can do their work and the option to be remote is considered a perk.
Remote-first company – In a remote-first company, their policies center around the remote worker. Even though there may be a physical office available to work from, everyone works remotely away from the office. All forms of communication, documentation, and collaboration are done via online tools and video applications.
According to Buffer’s recent State of Remote Work 2020 report, for the third year in a row, the biggest struggle while working remotely is figuring out an effective way to collaborate and communicate between remote employees. In today’s world, there seem to be hundreds of digital products and tools created just for collaboration and communication. So why does this still top the list as the biggest struggle? One possible reason is that many companies have yet to fully understand how to effectively collaborate between people in the office and those that are remote. Tools like Slack and Zoom are great to have when everyone is remote but could still be a struggle for those that are accustomed to meeting face to face in the office to bounce ideas around. This struggle becomes even greater when people need to collaborate with others in different time zones where asynchronous communication is mandatory.
Having the right tools in place and knowing how to fully utilize them is key. Spend time with those in your team that you notice are struggling with the applications and offer your best practices. Also, make the effort to set up a time with members who are proficient with the tools as well. Outreach will not only help your team move past the transition to remote work but also can help you get to know your fellow remote workers better.
One of the biggest perks of working from home is also the cause of one of the biggest drawbacks. Burnout is real and it will require a disciplined approach as you create and settle into your daily routine. Just as it is easy to walk away from work to take care of personal matters at home, it’s also easy to keep working without realizing that it’s time for dinner. Set boundaries on when work starts and ends.
Make it a point to start your day as you normally would if you were to go into the office and logoff when you typically would leave the office. Building in time to get up and move around and logging off to rest and recharge will help you stay focused and energized.
Just as burnout is a reality to working from home, so are the distractions that we face every day. Whether it’s having children at home to look after, constantly catching a glimpse of the to-do list, or even the anticipation of the arrival of your next Amazon order, it is hard to stay focus for long periods. The constant starts and stops during your day can break up any chance of productivity that you want to achieve.
Find a location in your home that limits your exposure to any distractions external to work. If you have children or other family members to look after, we advise that setting the expectation with your team in advance on follow-up. In today’s pandemic environment, people are more understanding of our limited time during the day,and working late at night could be the only option. If you and your partner are both working from home, set a daily or weekly cadence to plan and share your schedule with your partner to make sure that while one is in a meeting, the other can spend time with your children. Stress from having to choose between work and children is one of the quickest ways to lead to burnout.
Companies are still trying to understand how this shift away from the office will look from managing distributed teams to potentially removing or reducing physical office space. Take away the commute time and unnecessary meetings and employees are starting to realize that they’re just as productive, if not more, working from home. We don’t know how long this pandemic will last but one thing is certain. Remote working has never been as popular as it is now.