Making a Success of Remote Working for the Long Term

During the spring wave of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, almost half of all employees in the UK were working from home at least some of the time. Whilst this was, of course, a scary time for everyone, there was also a sense of banding together, battening down the hatches and maybe even a little excitement at being able to work from home for the first time. Many adapted well to this strange new set-up. Kitchen tables became digital business hubs and spare bedrooms make-shift Zoom boardrooms.  

But that was nearly 10 months ago, and the short-term shift to remote working has gradually become a more permanent, fundamental change in the way we work. And many are now realising the potential pitfalls.  

Driven partly by the resurgence of the virus following the summer, and also by shifting attitudes of employers who are now realising they can trust their people to get the job done and remain productive without their watchful eye, remote working is here to stay in some capacity. A recently released survey from KPMG showed how 68 percent of CEOs plan on downsizing their offices to reflect this shift, and it seems that what was the most popular employee benefit of the last decade has been fast-tracked some 20 years in the space of 10 months. 

That’s all well and good for those who have adjusted well or have properties large enough to accommodate a home office. But not everyone wants to be working from home. Some miss the buzz of the office and the social aspect of a workplace. Others may miss the ‘me time’ that a commute afforded them. Indeed, many new members of the work-from-home community may have contributed to the startling increase in divorce rates and break-ups.

 Maybe that open-plan family room wasn’t such a good idea after all. Regardless of which camp you’re in, remote working in some form is here to stay. So how can you make a success of it? Here are some pointers from someone who’s been a member of the work-from-home clan for more than two years now. 

Create a dedicated space. 

The biggest change that new work-from-homers will need to make as a short-term solution shifts into a permanent new reality is creating a space in their home that’s sole purpose is work.  

Kitchen tables, the sofa or cluttered box room just won’t cut it anymore. Even for organisations that switch to a 3-2-2 model or a variation of it (that’s three days in the office, two working remotely and two days off at the weekend), it’d be a struggle in terms of professional mindset to move from office to sofa and maintain the same attitude, output and productivity. 

A dedicated space helps create a more seamless transition between workplace and home working. It will induce a professional mindset when you enter and aid focus. This dedicated space should ideally be cut off in some way from distractions and general home noises.  

I don’t think I would have been nearly as productive over the last two years if every morning was a trip to the kitchen to turn the laptop on and there I stayed until 6 p.m. That close a proximity to the fridge certainly wouldn’t have helped things either! 

Play around with the ambience.  

One of the big benefits that many would have enjoyed when starting their first few remote workdays is having total control over the office environment. Radio station? Pick your favourite. Too warm? No need to negotiate opening a window with an always-cold coworker.  

For long-term remote working, it’s good to play around with the ambience of your home office to find what works best.  

As an example, I always find talk radio is a great backing track for the morning rush to clear the inbox and check on campaigns. But the post-lunch lull requires a lively Spotify playlist at full blast to maintain productivity.  

Others find that certain tasks, such as a blog or technical writing, can be easier to focus on with softer background noise such as rain sounds or even a YouTube video of general office background noise (I kid you not, and I’ve tried it, and it does work on occasion). 

Have a play around with lighting too. Natural light is always best for alertness and attention, whilst for those who like to work into the evenings, softer lamp light may be less harsh.  

Finally, have a think about the temperature of your room. Whilst it’s very tempting to create a snug office that’s always warm, research has found that we tend to lose focus and productivity in rooms that are too warm. After all, if you’re a bit tired after a long drive, you don’t whack the heating on – you open the window for some fresh air.  

Force yourself to stay connected.

Remote working presents a challenge to both extroverts and introverts.  

For the former, not being surrounded by co-workers, a lack of “real” conversations or office socialising are a real problem when it comes to working from home. They thrive on these interactions and, as such, working alone at home can become frustrating and isolating.  

On the flip side, for introverts who likely gravitate toward remote working more naturally, there is a danger of slipping into a mindset that starts to resent or even fear the Zoom or MS Teams call sound after a few hours of peace. For the more introverted, the office forced social interactions. Remote working can quickly see you start to actively avoid the group chats and digital socials.  

Whichever camp you may be in – and it can be a bit of both depending on your mood and how fatigued you are – forcing yourself to stay connected is critical for long-term remote working. 

And force yourself to stop working, too. 

This is probably the biggest problem for the WFH community. For a workforce that was increasingly becoming an ‘always-on’ workforce, working from home has exacerbated the problem – especially when the makeshift workspace was the kitchen table or living room armchair.  

But it’s critical for the long-term success of remote working to force yourself to STOP. If your organisation has still enforced a 9-5 or equivalent working hours – just work those hours then shut up shop for the day. If your employers are really forward-thinking and allow for both remote working and flexible hours too, then make sure you’re pacing yourself too.  

recent survey from The Office Group found that working longer hours was the biggest contributor to burnt-out millennials, alongside the inability to separate work and personal life.  

Remember, you’re no good to anyone if you burn out from overworking. And it’s detrimental to your physical and mental health. So take a break, try to switch off when your day is done and resist the late-night email check.  

The best ways I’ve found to deal with this is actually leaving the house when a particular working shift is done, either to walk the dog or a trip to the shop. It breaks the work mindset and helps you to switch off. Give it a try!  

By: Arthur Wilson Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Modus Create, Inc.

Modus Project Manager Samantha Park sits down with Co-Founder Jay Garcia to discuss how remote life differs at Modus from other organizations, share some of their techniques to make remote work easier, and talk about some of the challenges they’ve experienced working in a non-traditional environment. Ms. Park elaborates on the flexibility and independence that remote work provides, and discusses the expectation and reality of remote work, how to create a work-life balance, and tips for staying focused and on track. Modus is always on the lookout for people who want to work in an environment where they are challenged to grow and do great things with awesome people. Think you have what it takes to work with us? Check out our open positions at https://moduscreate.com/careers​ Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and turn on notifications! https://mdus.co/subscribe​ Sam on Social Media: Twitter – https://twitter.com/sparkps126​ LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/samantham…​ Blog – https://moduscreate.com/blog​ Timestamps: 0:24​ – Working remotely at Modus 0:50​ – Going fully-remote for the first time 1:38​ – Dealing with loneliness 2:08​ – Expectation vs. reality of remote work 2:33​ – Drawing a boundary between work and life 3:29​ – The flexibility of remote work 4:14​ – Building an office space at home 5:16​ – Leading Modus while remote Modus Create is a disruptive consulting firm based on the model of an open-source team dedicated to making the best software on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it. Together with our customers, we build products that empower people with breakthrough services and experience. Modus is always on the lookout for people who want to work in an environment where they are challenged to grow and do great things with awesome people. Think you have what it takes to work with us? Check us out at https://moduscreate.com/careers#workfromhome#remotework#employeeinterview#workculture#collaboration#collaborationtools#creativethinking

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COVID-19 Response: Why Life-Long Learning is the Way Forward

Being an all-remote company since the very beginning, Transformify Freelancer Management System was not negatively impacted by COVID-19 outbreak. Yet, many of our clients were caught by surprise. Business interruption and declining revenues inevitably resulted in massive layoffs across the globe. Highly skilled people were struggling to find jobs during the lockdown, and unfortunately, the situation has not improved much since.

Finding a solution for all those people became a mission for our team as we realized the power of the user data gathered over the years. 

Transferrable skills

Was there anything that could make people who have lost their jobs attractive to the hiring managers of companies operating in completely different industries?

Imagine flight attendants, chefs, waiters, travel agents, thousands of them, who have been laid off or furloughed at about the same time. Why would a hiring manager from Zoom, Amazon, Walmart or any other company out there that was thriving during these challenging times hire them instead of people who had experience within the same industry?

For some time, it seemed that hardly anything could be done when out of a sudden our powerful matching algorithm served the answer in front of our eyes—transferrable skills. All these people had some skills that were relevant to more than one company or industry that would allow them to be considered for completely different jobs to those they had before.

However, to take advantage of their transferrable skills, both the job seekers and hiring managers needed to be aware of these transferrable skills and take them into account during the hiring process. We realized that we were after something that could have a massive social impact in the years to come.

COVID-19 response: Sustainable remote jobs

As Transformify Freelancer Management System joined the Digital Skills & Jobs Coalition of the EU Commission back in 2016, we submitted a new pledge titled COVID-19 Response: Sustainable Remote Jobs tackling unemployment amid coronavirus outbreak. Travel has been restricted for a period of time making it hard for job seekers to relocate in search of a job elsewhere.

On top of that, most jobs have been transformed into remote jobs anyway making it a bit easier to apply for jobs with employers based elsewhere in the world. Leveraging our technology, we made it easy for the job seekers to outline their transferrable skills and for the hiring managers to consider candidates having experience in a completely different industry.

What about considering a travel agent for a customer support job with an e-commerce company? Or considering a hotel events manager as a key account manager with an online conferencing company? Strictly speaking, they have the skills that are required to make them successful with their new roles.

However, it was anything but easy to convince the hiring managers to consider them. After all, there were so many candidates having relevant experience within the same industry, why should they give a chance to anyone else?

It took months of constant communication, press releases and lots of online events to popularize the initiative but it was worth the effort. It’s a positive change that shifted the mindset of people, both hiring managers and job seekers, toward life-long learning.

Life-long learning

As a professor at Zigurat Business School, I have the privilege to teach very bright students who have already achieved a lot in life. Mostly, these are managers in the middle of their careers, looking for their next career step and eager to learn and develop their skills. Prior to the pandemic, people who constantly invested time and effort into learning new skills were in the minority.

Now a lot of job seekers have learned the hard way the importance of having relevant skills. From developing a side hustle, to securing an independent revenue stream, to acting as an independent consultant for a period of time, to taking on freelance gigs to make the ends meet while job hunting—it’s clear that developing new, in-demand skills is an investment that always delivers high returns.

Some time ago I had the pleasure to interview Shelley Osborne, VP of Learning at Udemy, and I could not agree more with her views on life-long learning:

“Learning to me is the future of work. With today’s rate of change, there is no longer a way for us to exist without infusing growth and learning into our daily lives. We have to break down those traditional thoughts of just achieving a diploma or getting through a company training ‘because someone told me that I had to.’ Instead, it’s a mindset that persists and prevails and should instead be thought of as lifelong learning.

When I was thinking about writing, ‘The Upskilling Imperative: 5 Ways to Make Learning Core to the Way We Work‘, I knew I wanted to convey that upskilling is imperative and provide a roadmap on how we can create this culture of learning where continuous learning is the norm. The need to learn something new will always be there. It’s impossible to know what will be critical to learn in five, ten years from now so we must develop ‘learning agility’ – the idea that we are open to learning new skills, whatever those skills might be.

Life-long learning is the way forward but how do leaders predict which skills will be high in-demand in the foreseeable future?

Although there is no single answer, the best way to learn and develop new skills is to ask yourself “What am I good at?” as it is hardly possible to excel as a data scientist if you dislike math and statistics—no matter how much such skills are demanded on the market. A single Google search using keywords like “the most demanded skills”, “jobs of the future”, “the future of work” will deliver lots of relevant results.

Visiting popular job boards and filtering based on the number of posted jobs by category also provides an idea of which skills are in demand. Last but not least, visiting online learning portals and checking which courses have been trending over a period of time is also a good starting point.

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11 Best Practices for Working Remotely

1

There isn’t much mystery when it comes to working in an office. Every day, you: Get dressed in company-appropriate attire. Commute to work. Join a few meetings. Take coffee breaks. Indulge in hallway conversations and lunches with coworkers. Go see a client. Commute home.

Remote work is completely different.

There’s no one-size-fits-all formula. Everyone has different way of working. Different times at which they work. Different work locations. Different time zones.

Even though the rise of remote work isn’t a new trend, many people are still figuring out how to work remotely through trial and error, doing their best to stay happy and productive. The challenges exist both for those who are remote work veterans and people who are just getting started.

And it’s not just people, entire companies struggle at making remote work too.

What’s the key to getting remote work right?
At FYI, we wanted to understand everything we could about working remotely. Including its challenges, how people feel about it, and the best ways to work remotely. Plus people’s tips and best practices for working remotely.

So we surveyed almost 500 people about remote work and put our findings together in the Remote Work Report.

We had a hunch before we did the research that in spite of the challenges with remote work, people loved it. We were right, except we underestimated just how much people love remote work:

Why do people love remote work?

It’s the flexibility. The lack of commute. The reduction of distractions. The ability to travel and live anywhere, including outside of major cities. The increased productivity. And of course the ability to be closer to one’s family.

But even though most people love working remotely, remote work has a lot of challenges. It’s easy to fall into many of the traps of remote work, especially if you’re new to it.

remote work challenges

We asked people “What is your #1 challenge with remote work?”

  • Communication topped the list, with 27% of people mentioning it as their #1 challenge. Remote work makes it harder to read body language, hear what people are saying, ask follow up questions in the hallway, or quickly ask a coworker for clarification at their desk.
  • Lacking social opportunities was the second largest challenge cited by participants. Office culture doesn’t exist when there’s no office. That’s why people struggle with the lack of social opportunities, like grabbing drinks with coworkers.
  • Loneliness and isolation was the third most-cited challenge. Sitting at home alone day after day can leave you sapped of energy and feeling down. A few survey participants even mentioned not quite feeling like they were part of the company.

How to thrive as a remote worker

With some consistent effort, you can overcome the challenges of remote work and create a healthy, happy, productive environment for yourself and for your team.

Here are 11 ways to ensure you succeed at remote work in spite of its challenges based on everything we learned. You’ll find tips and best practices from people who are working remotely, plus personal advice from my co-founder Hiten and I.

remote work best practices

  1. Practice good meeting etiquette
  2. Experiment with what makes you most productive
  3. Prioritize documentation and clear communication
  4. Create boundaries between work and life
  5. Make yourself visible at work
  6. Schedule time for socializing
  7. Connect with your teammates
  8. Do postmortems on key projects
  9. Build in accountability
  10. Define your and the team’s responsibilities
  11. Focus on your health

1) Practice good meeting etiquette

In person, it’s easy to see if someone is checked out during a meeting. They fiddle with their pen, start reading emails, maybe even begin to doze off. But when calls happen remotely, it’s much more difficult to see the telltale signs of disinterest.

Without video, people could be doing anything on the other end of a call – from making lunch to petting their dog to working on something else. That’s one reason why having cameras on for all remote calls will help keep you and everyone else on the call alert and engaged.

Be sure to setup a free account with GoToMeeting if you don’t already have a video conferencing service.

good remote meetings

That’s the #1 key to having good remote meetings: simply turn on your camera.

“Always use video in conference calls. People tune out when it’s an audio-only call.”
Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork

remote work cartoon

Since your video will be on, make sure to wear a shirt and pants. It may sound ridiculous to call this out, but there are too many embarrassing remote work stories about people showing up to meetings on video without enough on, like this one from our report:

“Meeting with a client who shows up on the Zoom call in the bathroom – not wearing much…. 😩”

Having video on doesn’t just connect you with the team (and show everyone what you’re wearing), it keeps you on good behavior and paying attention.

Do your best to avoid working on other things or fiddling with your cellphone when you’re on a video call. Hearing someone typing during a call or seeing them stare at another project on their screen can feel disappointing for everyone else on the call. Plus the person is probably missing what’s going on.

“Have your video on even during even casual/simple meetings. Enabling video goes such a long way to help everyone feel more together, communicate better, and trust each other (even when you’ve mastered remote communication).”
Nikhil Nik Kundra, Co-founder & CEO of Partender

How should we handle video calls with teams that have an office and remote folks?

If one person is remote, everyone is remote.

A team with some people in a single location and others who are remote should treat meetings as if everyone is remote. That means everyone should call in from seperate rooms/spaces.

“Even if people are in the same physical space (e.g. conf room) do all the meetings through the same video chat (we use Zoom). Why? Equalizes the experience — no muffled voices because the speaker is too far, or off camera banter that leaves out the remote person.”
Everett Harper, CEO & Co-founder of Truss

Source: Truss
And make sure to follow standard meeting best practices too. Create and share meeting agendas before the meeting starts. And take down notes, action items and follow ups, plus share them with the team afterwards.

2) Experiment with what makes you most productive

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you should be able to sit down at your home office desk in the morning and seamlessly crank out work until nightfall. But without the built-in discipline and natural breaks of an office, things can easily fall apart.

It’s up to you to build the best way for yourself to work remotely.

When we work in an office, we take walks to get snacks, chat with coworkers, take coffee and tea breaks, and make time to have lunch away from our desks. But at home, somehow these natural things start to feel as if we’re cheating or slacking off.

Suddenly, people are working more hours with fewer breaks, all from the same exact place every day. This is almost certainly a recipe for disaster and burnout.

remote work experiments

The best way to escape this trap is to experiment to find the best way that you work. Give yourself permission to try different start times, work from different places, and wear different types of clothing.

“Experiment to find what works best for you. Home office, nomad, music, silent, dress up or PJs, we all work differently. The beautiful thing about remote work is you have the flexibility to find your perfect set up.”
Sarah Betts, Customer Champion at Olark

Things like the temperature of your work space, your audio setup (headphones, earbuds, microphone), the comfort level of your chair, and the desk you use can all mean the difference between productivity and distraction.

You should also consider the times when you are most productive and want to do independent work, and when you should do less intellectually stimulating work.

“Splitting the day in deep and shallow work. I usually spend my mornings doing deep work, and I spend the rest of the day doing shallow work.”
Amir Salihefendić, Founder of Doist

If you know you’re more productive after taking a long walk with your dog halfway through the day, you should do that.

Try different ways of working, different break times, and working from different places to learn what’s best for you.

3) Prioritize documentation and clear communication

Communication dynamics for remote workers are totally different than those for people who are together in an office.

The days of walking over to someone’s desk anytime you want to clarify something are over. Suddenly you’re dealing with multiple time zones, and communication over Slack and video. Not to mention poor video and audio connections, which is the #1 challenge people have with remote meetings.

improve remote communication

Remote work requires purposeful and planned communication. Otherwise things can get misunderstood, or never communicated in the first place.

Make sure to document more than you would normally. For example, create documents to outline your ideas and align on next steps. Those documents will make sure that everyone is on the same page.

“Document more. Use asynchronous collaboration tools whenever possible (e.g. Jira, not Slack).”
Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork

Write down as much as you can when it comes to your work. You’ll have a much happier time as a remote worker.

At FYI, my co-founder Hiten and I create more documents than we can count. All to ensure that our ideas and what we’re working on are communicated properly to one another and to the rest of the team. We also have the added benefit of using our product to keep them organized too 🙂

“Overcommunicate on Slack/email and record as many meetings as you can (and share those on Slack for others to consume). Disseminating information is a major contribution in a remote environment. Remote teams which write clearly, succinctly and with enough context can minimize back and forth while maximizing understanding.”
Ben Erez, Product Manager at Abstract

It’s important to go beyond simply documenting. Make sure you share what you’ve written and discuss it with your team, either in your team’s chat app or on calls.

If you feel drawn to, try collaborating using virtual white boards. They’ll help you collaborate in real time in a much more visual way than with a regular document. One tool that can help you do this is virtual whiteboarding product Miro.

It’s also important to communicate how you’re feeling. It’s easy for people to see you in an office and notice that something is going really well, or really poorly. But working remotely makes it difficult to spot when something is off. That’s why it’s essential that you speak up. And if you’re a manager, ask the team how they are doing often.

4) Create boundaries between work and life

Boundaries between work and life get blurred for remote workers. Since many of us work from home, suddenly the work environment and the home/life environment merge into one never-ending entity. Wake up, check your email, sit down for breakfast while working, keep working throughout the day, suddenly it’s 10pm and we’re still working.

I’m personally guilty of this remote work sin. As is my co-founder (don’t ask him when his last true vacation was).

This can be extremely unhealthy.

Unplugging is important. To do this, as a remote worker you’ll need to create boundaries that help separate work from regular life. Or else, potentially pay the price of burn out, social isolation, even depression.

remote work boundaries

Decide when you’re working, and stop once your day is done. That way, you won’t work from sunup to sundown.

One way to create boundaries as a remote worker is by creating a special work space that you can physically walk out of. For people who live in cities with limited apartment space this can be difficult, but if possible, having a separate office with a door that closes can help tremendously in creating boundaries.

“Having a completely different room/area that is a designated ‘work zone’ that you know if (a) you are in it, then you are 100% committed to working and (b) if you are outside it, then you switch off completely and do ‘real life’ stuff.”
Devan Sabaratnam, Creator & Co-founder of HR Partner

Another hack is getting distance from your work electronics. Turn off your phone and computer work-related notifications in the evening and on weekends. Even put your work devices out of reach. I also have much more about this tactic in a post I wrote about Marie Kondoing your digital life.

“I recommend turning off notifications on your phone, keeping your laptop in an office, and overall creating rules that work with your life so that you can still relax at home and avoid feeling like you’re always working.”
Hailley Griffis, Head of Public Relations at Buffer

You can also use a physical object to help your brain realize that work is done for the day. Like a work hat or work shoes (or fuzzy slippers).

“Have a special pair of “work shoes” that help literally and figuratively signify when you’re working and when you are not to help with boundaries.”
Max Lind, Manager Field Marketing / Designer Evangelist at Abstract

Or, you can go even more out of the box and literally walk out of your house and walk back in when it’s time to start work. Then do it again when you are done with your work day. Anything to trick your brain into separating work and regular life.

There is another side to boundaries that’s worth mentioning. Since you work from home, sometimes family and friends think that means you are always available. If this is the case, you may need to set boundaries with them too by explaining your availability to them.

5) Make yourself visible at work

When you have an office, you’re constantly visible to others. This can be bad (you’ve got a hangover, you weren’t able to get any sleep) but typically, it’s quite good.

Your boss sees you on the regular and asks what you’re working on. You’re on people’s minds because they bump into you all the time, so they invite you to meetings and set up time to chat. People drop by your desk and say hello. You run into the CEO and give her a quick elevator pitch of what you’re working on.

Remote doesn’t have this luxury.

Outside of meetings, we’re reduced to a name on a Slack sidebar. Unless we take action to become visible.

remote worker visibility

A simple but highly effective way to stay visible is to let people know what you’re working on. It’s natural for your teammates – and even your manager – to get caught up in their own day to day. So it’s up to you to remind them about what you’re doing (and frankly, your existence).

“Be prompt when someone asks you questions. Even if you’re busy with something else, reply to them and let them know you’ll get back to them within a certain time, so that they’re not just waiting around unknowingly, instead they have clarity on when you’ll be getting back to them.”
Ritika Bhagya, Founder & UX Director at PT. Studio Flolab

Being responsive as quickly as you can is another form of visibility. If someone asks you a question, whether it’s in Slack, Microsoft Teams, or in a comment in a document tool, the faster you get back, the more visible you can seem. That’s not to say you should constantly be available at all hours and be open to interruptions, but quick responses can help people see that you’re hard at work.

There are lots of ways to stay visible virtually, like being active in Slack, setting up meetings with people on your team, even sharing documents before and after meetings (like notes and agendas). All of these things keep you top of mind to others on your team.

“Although you have a job definition and goals, you do not have the luxury of working in an office and getting a ‘feel’ for if you are achieving the right objectives. Be sure to check in with your manager and if you’re managing direct reports be sure to ask “Are you getting what you need from me?” This will foster a conversation around objectives and ensure both the employee and employer are getting what they need!”
Tiffany Heimpel, Director of Sales at Dribbble

Getting feedback on your work is another form of visibility. And it can be tougher to come by for remote workers since you have to explicitly ask for it much of the time. So ask for feedback, early and often.

6) Schedule time for socializing

Alone at home. Working all day. Wearing fuzzy remote work slippers. Sipping tea while petting your dog (or cat). All these things lend themselves to not going out once your work is done. You’re so comfortable, why disturb the peace by leaving the house?

remote dog

When you work remotely, you miss out on the built-in social benefits of an office, and can easily descend into madness.

Unless you purposely create a social agenda and time to connect with other human beings in person. Like your friends.

This is especially true since, contrary to popular belief, most remote workers are not introverts.

remote work social time

“Keep a regular social calendar. I play poker with the guys twice a month and I do a happy hour with friends once a month. You need to get out and interact.”
Greg Digneo, Writer at Time Doctor

You can also create a faux office culture by connecting with other remote workers in person.

“Being remote might mean that you don’t have work friends to share that after-work drink with. Find other remote workers to build your own in-person community. Co-working spaces, meetups, and slack groups are great places to make friends.”
Vivian M. Chen, Founder & CEO of Rise

Whatever activities you choose, whether it’s time with friends, gym classes, meetups, coffees with people from your co-working space, make sure to actually do them. Put them into your schedule. Ask people to hang out. Ditch the slippers and force yourself to get out of the house.

“You must be proactive in setting aside time to see people! When you’re remote, you have to be the one to schedule coffees and lunches! Weird at first but get out there!”
Sibi M., Startup Advisor

remote digital nomad

7) Connect with your teammates

Getting to know your teammates beyond just work will help you feel connected, be more productive and feel happier at work. Even if you mostly work alone, feeling connected to the team will help you enjoy the work you do.

Without connection to your team, you can begin to feel isolated, alone, even unhappy.

remote work connection

If you’re able, don’t just rush into work when you get on a call. Spend at least a few minutes catching up and see how everyone is doing. The more you can learn about your teammates, the happier you’ll be that you’re working with them.

“Start all meetings with personal check-ins. We do rose, bud, thorn; red, yellow, green; and others. Building personal relationships remotely can be hard, but mutual trust and care are essential to high-performing teams. There’s no “watercooler,” so you have to make one.”
Jeff Whitlock, Founder & CEO of Unbird

You can also dedicate entire meetings to getting to know one another and catching up on things outside of work. Virtual teas/coffees or drinks can work well for this.

Another way to get to know one another is through photos. For example, you can share family photos with the team when you are inspired. Photos from your vacations. And of course, your pets. Plus the things you love doing outside of work.

Here are a few that our team recently shared in Slack:

remote work slack

As always, try to get facetime over video so you can see each other’s faces when you’re connecting.

8) Do postmortems on key projects

Postmortems are my secret weapon on a remote team. It’s how we complete projects so that we’re ready to do even better on whatever is next. Postmortems also directly address the biggest challenge with remote work: Communication and documentation.

fyi postmortems

A postmortem is a written assessment that gets completed once a project is done to help assess how it went and what should happen differently next time.

Whenever a project at FYI is complete, we run through a postmortem. It could be anything from a new feature we built, a marketing initiative, or a serious bug.

Whoever was in charge of the initiative owns filling out the postmortem template with all the pertinent details of a project, and then getting insights from the rest of the team. Here’s what we include in our template:

Postmortem Report Sections

I like to focus on filling out all the nitty gritty details of exactly what happened and why we chose to do the initiative. Once I have a good feel for that, I dive into the results of the initiative. What were the outcomes of the initiative? What went wrong along the way? Next, I go into what we should improve next time, and make sure to add action items with names of team members for each one.

Here’s what we always add to the top of our postmortems to help inspire us to be honest and open about what happened:

postmortem guidelines

Once the template is filled out, I make sure to go over the postmortem during a meeting with the key team members who were involved to make sure we didn’t miss anything.

For remote teams, since there aren’t any hallway conversations about how a project went, postmortems help us get everything down on paper and discussed.

Our aim in doing postmortems is to celebrate what we did, understand the results, and do even better next time. They are one of my favorite tools to use as a remote team and are great for colocated teams as well.

9) Build in accountability

Years ago when I had an office job, a manager used to come by my desk to say hello. Before he announced his presence, he’d stand behind me for a few seconds (probably much more) and scope out what I was working on. Sadly, sometimes it was Hangouts chat or Facebook Messenger. And I was caught red handed. The fear of being caught kept me from slacking off most of the time.

That’s why remote work is great. You can chat with whoever you want, whenever you want. Instead of working you can wash the dishes you forgot to wash the night before. Even do your laundry while you’re on a call, as long as you keep the video off.

remote work laundry

Except… socializing or doing household chores when you’re supposed to be working is a recipe for reduced productivity, longer hours, and work-induced woes.

It’s easy to fall into these traps as a remote worker. Distractions loom ominously close. And there’s no one to regulate you but yourself.

remote work accountability

But have no fear, there are plenty of tactics you can use to become more accountable.

The first: timebox each task you’re doing. Decide how long something will take and dedicate yourself to working on it during that time.

You can also use a time tracker or alarms to help keep you on track.

Or, block your calendar off so you know when to focus on what and to prevent people from scheduling meetings at that time.

“Set a schedule, including breaks, and hold yourself accountable. Personally, I use alarms on my phone to remind me when to stop. I block time in the calendar to prevent meetings from being booked during those times that I know I need a break (lunch, gym, etc.). And, I try to make a list of what I need to accomplish each day to feel like my day has been a ‘success’.”
Heather-Mae Pusztai, Customer Engagement at Buffer

Standard task lists can help you know what you’re working on for the day and check it off as you go along. Hiten and I have a shared daily checklist we each add to every day which helps us add in an extra level of accountability since someone else is seeing it.

“A lot of people struggle with accountability with remote work. I publicly commit (in Slack) to what I’m working on and when I plan to get it done. If I say something publicly, I’m more likely to get it done when I say I will.”
Melissa Bierly, Product manager at Parse.ly

Sharing what you’re planning to do in Slack will help build accountability in for you and your team. If you’ve said what you’re doing, you’re much more likely to do it than face the specter of public judgement.

At FYI we do this through what we call daily updates. We share what we accomplished the day before and what we’re planning to do today. That way we can let everyone know what we’re up to, see what others are working on, and also keep ourselves accountable to our work.

daily updates remote work

10) Define your and the team’s responsibilities

How many times have you done something, only to realize that someone else did the same thing? Or, you finished up a project and delivered it to your manager, only to hear that you didn’t do what was asked of you.

On remote teams – where communication is more challenging and things can get lost in translation – it’s important to be crystal clear about responsibilities. Otherwise communication mishaps can happen all the time.

remote work responsibilities

“Who is responsible for X should be obvious to everyone. When it’s not clear, you end up having more meetings, calls, emails, and conversations than you should. This is a recipe for disaster.”
David Fernández, Co-founder of Readsmart

If you find that people are confused, there are lots of unnecessary meetings happening, emails flying around, and lots of questions coming your way, it probably means responsibilities aren’t clear.

Start by defining responsibilities on a project. Then, write down who is responsible for what, and share it with the team. Getting it documented means way less confusion and wasted time.

If you’re suddenly not sure what you’re supposed to be doing, ask. Slack your manager, set up a call, make sure that you are clear about what’s expected of you. And if you’re a manager, check in with your team to find out if they understand their tasks.

“When there’s doubt about who should be working on what and what the responsibilities are, don’t try to coordinate with everyone individually. Instead, set a time to jump on a call and discuss so everyone’s on the same page. Literally ask: “does everyone understand or have any additional questions”. Often it’s your fault for not being as clear as you need to be, and saying it out loud forces you to clarify your own thoughts.”
Matt Hollingsworth, Head of Operations at We Work Remotely

11) Focus on your health

If you let it, working from home can sap your energy. I used to always go to the gym on my way home from the office. I had momentum, I had a routine, it was easy to fall into the good habit.

With remote, you’re home, so the momentum is to stay at home. It’s easiest to be in comfortable clothing, ordering take out and working around the clock. Especially when your pet is asleep on your lap.

This isn’t a trap everyone falls into. But it can happen to the best of us. And it’s easy to prevent.

remote work health

A routine can help you get into the groove of healthy activities. Once you do something a few times, you gain momentum to keep doing it. For example, taking time to go to the gym, hiking with your dog, going to a yoga class, or getting time in nature.

“Get outside every day, ensure a steady workout routine.”
Claire Atkin, Director at First Mountain

Make time for these activities, even if you take a break from the work day and finish working later.

Stay hydrated and make sure to get up from the computer every so often. Practice healthy eating habits if you can. And don’t forget about your mental health too. Make sure you celebrate wins and achievements and don’t drive yourself to exhaustion and burnout. If you need to take time for a therapist, do that. Whatever it takes for you to be healthy and happy.

“Being a workaholic, you often forget to be physically active throughout the day. I find it’s important to get up out of your desk every 30 minutes or so and just stretch and walk around a bit. Sometimes this is easier said than done because being a remote worker means there may not be anyone around to remind you to take a break once in a while. This drive often must come from within.” Will Mitbrodt, Engineering Lead at We Work Remotely

What’s next for remote work?
Remote work is nothing new. But figuring out exactly how to work remotely, that’s still cutting edge.

If you work remotely or have remote team members, these 11 best practices for working remotely should become second nature to you.

We also pulled together nearly 200 tips on remote working that you can explore. For even more remote content, we’ve put together a growing list of the best remote work resources we could find on the Internet. And, here’s a remote work statistics directory for when you want to dive deeper into remote work trends.

 

By: 

Source: https://usefyi.com

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I truly believe working remotely is the best way to take control of your time, but it can be a bit of a minefield. Whether you’re new to working remotely or been at it for a while, you are in the right place. I have 10 hard-earned tips for work remotely from home without getting depressed, anxious, or distracted. If I could go back in time to 2015 when I was a WFH beginner, this what I would tell myself. Thank you for watching my video! If you want to get the most out of your precious time here on this beautiful planet, join the Better Crew by subscribing.
▶️More videos like this in my playlists: http://bit.ly/BWPPlaylists
 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Power Move May Be The Biggest Game Changer For The Job Market

1

Facebook has a history of either copying or acquiring their competitors. This isn’t meant to be a slight; it’s smart. Facebook has the war chest, talent and billions of global visitors to its platforms. There’s no need for them to keep reinventing the wheel.

It didn’t come as a surprise when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg copied Jack Dorsey, the dual CEO of Twitter and Square. Dorsey previously announced that he’d allow his employees to continue working from home “forever.” Dorsey said, “We want employees to be able to work where they feel most creative and productive.”

On the heels of Dorsey’s announcement, Facebook said this week that it would permit its employees to work remotely too. Zuckerberg isn’t known for being warm and cuddly. He’s viewed as a brilliant and tough business person. He clearly sees the trend and benefits of allowing employees to work from home and jumped on the bandwagon. The massive, forced remote-work experiment made by major corporations, during the pandemic, proved a great success. The workers didn’t have to be subjected to long, time-wasting commutes. They were able to take care of and teach their children, as their schools closed, and available to help sick or needy family members.

Companies recognize that their costs will appreciably drop if they’re no longer required to lease pricy real estate in big, overcrowded cities that have high tax rates. They also understand, from a public relations standpoint, that less people driving or taking busses to and from work cuts down on pollution and saves the environment. We’ve all seen by now the before Covid-19 and after photos of cities showing the improvement of the air quality.

Zuckerberg anticipates that a large percentage of his people will work remotely and said, “We’re going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale.” While this sounds noble and magnanimous, there’s an underlying threat to workers.

At first blush, Facebook, Twitter, Square and other employees who’ve been offered the chance to work remotely will be delighted that they don’t have to commute, deal with annoying co-workers, endless in-person meetings and their bosses glaring at them.

Some will say that it’s not worthwhile to live in San Francisco, Silicon Valley or other cities where rentals and houses cost a fortune. The taxes and cost of living are also too high. Many will leave the cities and move to places that offer more affordable housing, along with a better quality and higher standard of living. This can be boom for many suburbs and warm, sunny low-tax states and a detriment to the cities that throngs of people escape from.

Here’s the Facebook catch: employees will have to tell their boss if they move to a different location. According to Zuckerberg, those who flee to lower-cost cities “may have their compensation adjusted based on their new locations.” He ominously added, “We’ll adjust salary to your location at that point. There’ll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this.”

It’s becoming clear that the “gift” of remote work may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Let’s face facts, Zuckerburg and Dorsey didn’t become multimillionaires because they’re nice. They are sharp, aggressive, genius wolves dressed in T-shirts, jeans and hoodies. They know that a person can work from home in San Francisco, North Dakota, Iowa, Utah, England or India. It’s been proven that the available technology, such as Zoom videos, Slack and other products, make it easy to work from anywhere in the world and seamlessly connect with co-workers and managers.

Zuckerberg can now scout for talent all over the country and world. This could be the worst trend for workers, as CEOs arbitrage the best, cheapest job seekers globally. Facebook will source job applicants who possess all of the right skills and experience and live in lower-cost places and pay them less money then they’d receive working in San Francisco. Dorsey was upfront about this stating, “We can get talent anywhere. There’s a lot of folks out there that do not want to move to San Francisco. They feel comfortable working in a much smaller office or just home.”

This will cause a ripple of serious repercussions. Salaries for workers in San Francisco and other large cities may fall due to the introduction of job seekers that weren’t previously considered. Compensation may also be suppressed due to the overhang of over 39 million Americans who are out of work.

It’s also telling that Facebook just launched a new group video chat product, Messenger Rooms.This looks like it’s specifically designed to compete against Zoom, Skype, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. Conveniently, Facebook’s own employees can create a video chat room and invite up to 50 people to join a video call. It will make it easier for their remote workers and also steal market share from Zoom, which has become the Covid-19 breakout success story.

A large number of companies, including Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Capital One, Amazon, Microsoft, Zillow and others have all announced that they’ll extend their work-from-home programs. They most likely will follow Zuckerberg and Dorsey’s lead by seeking out talent that live in lower-cost places, so they can bring down their costs. In light of the economic hit companies have taken due to the effects of Covid-19, saving money has become a top priority.

On the flip side, there is some positive news. Job seekers will have more opportunities—albeit along with greater competition—as they can apply to jobs anywhere in the United States. If you see a job advertisement for a position outside of where you reside, feel free to submit your résumé. The odds are that most companies will adopt this remote-work strategy and consider candidates from various locations. This trend will free you from being relegated to only applying to jobs within commuting distance.

This power move by Zuckerberg could be the biggest game changer for the job market coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I am a CEO, founder, and executive recruiter at one of the oldest and largest global search firms in my area of expertise, and have personally placed thousands of professionals with top-tier companies over the last 20-plus years. I am passionate about advocating for job seekers. In doing so, I have founded a start-up company, WeCruitr, where our mission is to make the job search more humane and enjoyable. As a proponent of career growth, I am excited to share my insider interviewing tips and career advancement secrets with you in an honest, straightforward, no-nonsense and entertaining manner. My career advice will cover everything you need to know, including helping you decide if you really should seek out a new opportunity, whether you are leaving for the wrong reasons, proven successful interviewing techniques, negotiating a salary and accepting an offer and a real-world understanding of how the hiring process actually works. My articles come from an experienced recruiter’s insider perspective.

Source: https://www.forbes.com

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he expects 50% of the company’s employees to work from home over the next five to 10 years. The social media giant will embrace remote work, even after coronavirus restrictions end, with Facebook limiting offices to 25% capacity when workers return in July. The company has 48,000 employees in 70 offices around the world Subscribe to The Guardian on YouTube ► http://is.gd/subscribeguardian Facebook expects half of employees to work remotely over next five to 10 years ► https://www.theguardian.com/technolog… Support the Guardian ► https://support.theguardian.com/contr… Today in Focus podcast ► https://www.theguardian.com/news/seri…
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