Shifting from an in-office to a remote model could have seriously good consequences for your company. But it has to be done right. Recently, big-name companies like Reddit and IBM have eliminated remote work and recalled their employees back in the office because they couldn’t “collaborate and coordinate effectively.”
Of course, remote work can be extremely successful for companies. Studies show that remote workers are more productive and happier than their in-office counterparts. Remote work also helps attract top global talent and promotes healthier models of work-life balance. Many companies have even gone 100% remote, with positive impacts for employees and their bottom line.
The key to transitioning to remote work is to plan specifically for this model and put processes in place for powerful communication. If you want to change to remote working and not die trying, here's what you need to know to make it happen:
Set up Your Workstation for Success
Your workstation should have everything you need and be comfortable. Make sure you’ve got a home set-up with reliable internet and a good webcam for video calls. You may consider investing in a large monitor, high-quality keyboard and an ergonomic chair. You know what’s best for your success.
Get Access to the Information You Need
It’s important that you have all the information you need to perform well. Your access to files, programs and people shouldn’t be affected by going remote. Find ways to create easy-access file sharing and download the programs and software you need on your computer. You should also define communication methods so that you can reach your team members easily and effectively.
Make a (Flexible) Schedule.
Try to create a start time and an end time for your work. Overachievers these days have a hard time logging off when they’re at home. To avoid burnout, it’s best to define a schedule and then create flexible pockets when you need or want to. In addition, be intentional about when you’re using personal vs. professional time. Definitely take advantage of being at home by popping in a load of laundry, but avoid the limbo of kind of working, kind of not.
Eat Meals and Take Breaks Like Normal
It’s easy to eat meals at your desk and stay glued to your screen 24/7. Ideally, you’ll eat meals and take breaks like normal. It’s not healthy to be working without stopping. Eating lunch and taking an afternoon walk are great ways to signal changes between activities. Make the most of them.
Know Your Tools
Collaboration is key when it comes to remote work. Make sure you and your distributed team members are equipped with the best collaborative tools and update your systems with high-quality communication platforms like Slack or Zoom. You should be able to share screens, brainstorm on whiteboards and share files easily.
Keeping up with new tools is also important if your company deals with asynchronous communication. Try to find the right project management platform so that communication is easily recorded, so team members can respond across time zones and working schedules.
Schedule One-on-Ones With Team Members
Since you’ll no longer see your team members getting coffee in the morning, it’s important to build casual conversation into your workday. Schedule one-on-ones with distributed team members to catch up on personal and professional issues, and make sure to create opportunities for teams to chat and build relationships. Some companies even open chat room or Slack channels to encourage connections among team members.
Prepare Your Management Team
Good management is always crucial, but in the remote model, it’s your life force. Having talented managers who are equipped with tools and training will make everything run smoothly. Give your management team the right tools (Trello, Asana, Basecamp, etc.) to follow up with workers and communicate transparently about how projects are going. Prepare them for success by training them on ways to communicate effectively online and build a virtual office where managers can easily see what’s being completed and when. By boosting your management team, you’ll be sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Stay Connected Socially
Don’t become a hermit at home. At some point, you’re going to need human interaction. Sometimes virtual office spaces can help you feel connected. But you should also hop on video chats with team members, go to coworking spaces to get work done, schedule in-person meetings (where applicable) and leave the house during your breaks. Stay social when working remote is definitely possible, but you’ll need to be more intentional about it.
Take Advantage of Working Remotely
Remember that you’re working remotely and should be enjoying the benefits of it! Don’t just act like you’re in the office. Think about why you wanted to work remotely in the first place and spend your time accordingly - whether enjoying family time, doing hobbies or using your flexible time as you wish. Take advantage of working remotely by fitting these aspects into your flexible schedule.
At the end of the day, you can make a smooth transition between the office to remote work, as long as you plan accordingly. Set yourself up for success by considering working space, time, habits, tools, training and your social life. By looking ahead at these potential sticky points, you’ll be working remotely and successfully before you know it.
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