The COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly thrown many workers from a traditional office environment into a remote situation with very little notice. While under normal circumstances, working from home can seem like a luxury, in reality it requires a certain amount of discipline, plus the right collaboration tools.
For businesses and individuals who aren’t used to it, there can be a learning curve even in the best of times. Today, we’re also juggling a constant stream of COVID-19-related news updates, texts from worried family and friends, children who are now home from school indefinitely, and a whole host of potential distractions everywhere.
Here are some straightforward tips for employees and business owners who are adjusting to #remotelife.
Ditch the PJs
For those of us who are going remote, the most important thing to do is establish a routine. When your desk is 20 feet from your bed, it can be very tempting to hit snooze, cuddle with the dog a little longer, and really let your morning slip away. But when you do that, you set the rest of your day off on the wrong foot.
Creating a routine and sticking to it is critical to remaining productive. Heed your alarm and get up at the same time every day. Don’t try to work from your bed; instead, treat the start of your day the same as you would if you were going into the office. Shower, change into a real outfit, and sit down at a designated workspace.
Even though you’re working solo in your home or apartment, it’s still vitally important that you remain in touch with your team virtually. This will help you to stay sane and focused, plus it ensures you still have a say in decisions, plans, and strategies.
You also want to over communicate about your own work. Of course, when you’re at home, your colleagues can’t see you. They don’t know when you’re diligently typing away at your desk, and they can’t see when you’ve gotten up to take a break, walk the dog, or to put the kids down for their nap. Sharing when you’ve finished a project or that you’re stepping away for 15-30 minutes manages your colleagues’ expectations and helps avoid frustrations.
Get the Right Tools
If you’re the boss, you have to do more than ensure you’re able to stay motivated at home. You need to make sure your team is set up for success! Here’s where to start when it comes to managing a remote team.
Ensure that everyone has the right tools to do their jobs. Every remote team needs a way to stay in touch—be it video chat like Zoom or a messaging and communication app like Slack.
It’s also helpful to have project tracking software that everyone can access remotely. Whether you prefer Monday, Trello, Asana, Milanote, or choose to use a modified version of the Google Suite, there are plenty of options for you to choose from. File-sharing tools are another standard need for remote teams.
For some teams, you’ll need additional tools that are specific to your industry. If security and privacy are major concerns, establishing a VPN is important. There are also tools like LastPass that allow you to share passwords and documents securely.
Finally, it’s important for you to keep company culture alive even when you’re not physically together at the company office. Make time for your team to gather together online and encourage a little levity and fun among the group. This is important for remote teams any time of year, but a little bit of kindness and community-building is especially welcome in this current situation.
About the Sterling Woods Group, LLC
The Sterling Woods Group’s mission is to help clients make sense of their data to predictably grow sales. We apply data science to help you optimize your sales funnel, improve your marketing ROI, launch new products successfully, and enter new markets profitably.
We use a hypothesis-driven, data-supported methodology to discover insights that no one else is paying attention to. Then, we help you assemble the right sales strategies, marketing plans, technologies, and resources to seize this opportunity.
About the Author
Rob Ristagno, founder and CEO of the Sterling Woods Group, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. Starting his career at McKinsey, his focus has always been on embracing digital technology and data science to spur strategic growth.
Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors and is a regular keynote speaker at conferences around the world. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and Digiday.
He holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.
Rob lives outside Boston, MA with his wife, Kate; daughter, Leni; and black lab, Royce.