The past couple of months have been mostly defined by uncertainty, but one thing is abundantly clear: for many office workers, remote work is here to stay. Since COVID-19 took the world by storm, weeks of work from home turned into months turned into forever as employers and employees alike observed the surprising feasibility of such a fundamental shift in the way white-collar workers operate in 2020. Although in many ways the shift has been successful, it has also brought on its own set of new and unfamiliar workplace challenges. A few tips for working remotely could definitely help us all out.
Top Tips for Working Remotely
Employees working from home long-term need sustainable strategies and tips for working remotely to ensure that they’re able to produce work of the same (or better) quality as they did pre-pandemic. That means leveraging psychology’s best productivity hacks and working to refine strategies for success when working remotely.
If you’re the leader of a remote workforce, this article will help you support your team in working from home more effectively. These five tips were curated with an eye on sustainability, meaning they’re meant to prevent burnout via benefits that build over time. Take a moment to understand how a few simple practices can transform the quality of the work from home experience, and then share the insights as a team.
Technically, this first tip isn’t directly related to work but the indirect impact it has on employees’ ability to do great work is massive.
Anyone who’s faced significant challenges with mental health or physical wellbeing knows how difficult it is to focus on work when you’re unwell. Ideally, you should support employee wellness through preventative measures, which often look like minor lifestyle changes but can cumulatively amount to a big difference in health. These small changes are far preferable to the more dramatic repercussions of a major health crisis.
- Encourage employees to get plenty of movement and nourish their bodies with whole, nutritious foods.
- Mentally, support employees to keep a pulse on their emotional wellbeing and implement practices like meditation or therapy to support mental health to whatever extent they need.
Staying healthy doesn’t come with a one-size-fits-all how-to guide, but as a leader, you should let your employees know you support their endeavors to take care of themselves. Depending on your position, it might make sense to do this through a company-sponsored wellness program. Remember, good health is an important baseline for great work.
Have a Designated Work Area
Work and home have suddenly merged, and for many people so have the boundaries between their personal and professional lives.
While many employees have historically found success with intentional work-life integration, accidental blurring of work and leisure is not at all the same and in fact can be a fast course towards burnout. One of the best ways to combat this is by literally separating the areas where employees work versus the areas where they relax — even if both of those are within the same home.
While some people will be equipped to set up home offices, others might be making do with a desk in the corner of their small living space. Encourage employees to work with what they have and if you can, consider offering a small stipend to help them set up a more comfortable work environment whether by purchasing ergonomic equipment, office supplies, or any other amenities that can make their home office feel more comfortable.
Work in Short Bursts
Based originally on Frances Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique, working in short bursts can be an extremely effective way to ramp up productivity, especially on days when employees are dragging their feet to get moving. The traditional Pomodoro Technique prescribes working in 25-minute intervals (the amount of time it theoretically takes to make Pomodoro pasta, hence the name) with short breaks between intervals, during which you entirely disconnect from the work at hand.
For some people, 25-minute intervals are just right while for others, 40 or 50 minutes might make more sense. Encourage employees to experiment and find what’s right for them. Whatever it is, the logic that underlies the Pomodoro Technique will hold: it’s mentally a lot easier to commit to working for 25 or 40 minutes than it is to sit down and swallow the daunting goal of completing an entire project.
One of the most notable adjustments when transitioning from in-office to remote work is a decrease in the level of visibility. Whereas in the office, employees know their managers see them typing furiously through the day with unbroken focus, at home there are no witnesses.
Even if your team still communicates plenty and regularly reviews one another’s projects, remote work still tends to leave employees feeling hungry for acknowledgment.
One of the best ways to combat this is by formally implementing practices that make it easy for your team to celebrate success through a company-wide social recognition program. Employee recognition programs make it easy for team members to celebrate one another’s success, and messages of appreciation are displayed in a public social feed so that other employees can chime in with appreciation and revel in the joy of a win.
Adopt a Growth Mindset
Our final recommendation is an important lesson not only for work but for life in general. Studies on the growth mindset show that people who conceptualize talent and other abilities as fixed traits are much less likely to progress and improve compared to people who believe skills can be developed.
The logic is pretty obvious — if you believe there’s no room to improve, why would you try? On the other hand, if you believe your skills can be developed and strengthened, you’re much more likely to seek opportunities for improvement and invest the effort needed to turn those opportunities into growth.
The effects of a growth mindset apply to almost everything in life.
Specifically for working remotely, having a growth mindset means that employees shouldn’t let a couple of off-days or even weeks discourage them from continually working to refine the efficacy of their remote work situation. Some strategies will help, others won’t, and there will almost certainly be challenges along the way — but if you can encourage your team to keep an eye on improvement and hold fast to the belief that they can always continue to grow, you can be much better equipped for success.
Are you ready to implement these sustainable Tips for Remote Work?
The recommendations provided in this article focus on empowering employees to develop sustainable habits that make long-term remote work more successful. While all of these are relatively minor adjustments to the way employees may already be working from home, when using these tips for remote working together they can make a very big impact on the quality and success of the employee experience. Other tips on security, communication, and managing remote workers can be found in our article on Managing Remote Staff and The Perfect Teleworking Balance.
About the Author
Katerina Mery is a marketing specialist at Fond, a rewards and recognition company dedicated to building places where employees love to work. She authors articles about how to leverage recognition programs to drive company success. Learn more at www.fond.co.