"Persistence – the ability to keep moving forward in spite of difficulties."
In the wake of COVID-19, most companies are requiring or recommending that employees work from home for the foreseeable future. This mandate can be stressful when you're used to working in a bustling office or visiting with clients face to face. If you don't often work from home, it's helpful to have a grasp on how to stay focused, engaged and productive.
In this issue, we share some advice from Patrick Lucas Austin, a technology columnist for TIME, on how to succeed at working remotely.
Location, location, location. Try to find yourself a dedicated and comfortable spot to work that you can associate with your job and leave when you're off the clock, recommends Austin. This means getting off the couch and definitely out of bed. Try to set up a dedicated home office where you can close the door and shut out distractions. To prevent spreading COVID-19, avoid working from public places such as coffee shops.
Find a buddy. Just because you must work remotely doesn't mean you must be socially disconnected. Austin points out that social interactions — even with coworkers via Slack — can alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness. Find a colleague you can talk to or text when you're feeling the need to chat with someone. Alternatively, buddy up with a friend who works elsewhere and is going through the same experience. It's also helpful to hop on a social video call.
Have a plan. When working alone, it's critical to keep a more structured daily schedule than usual. When you go into an office, the structure of your day is influenced by other people. Austin encourages professionals who are working from home to schedule multiple breaks into their day, whether it's playing with their dog or pausing to grab the day's mail.
Consider how you're communicating. For clear communication, go beyond email and use other digital tools that can better replicate the in-person office experience. Look to tools such as videoconferencing services, Slack or Zoom. You can also explore screen sharing to ensure members of your team are on the same page. Austin also recommends boosting camaraderie and bringing a smile during these difficult days with a remote lunch date. Invite everyone on your team to enjoy a meal together via videoconferencing. It's a way to connect with colleagues and help everyone still feel like part of the team.
Remember everyone works differently. Managers should remember that not every employee wants to work from home, which can make for a stressful switch. Austin recommends that leaders communicate as much as possible and help employees struggling with the change.
If you're not used to working remotely, it can be a big adjustment—for you and for your team. If you're grappling with the new remote reality, it helps by making sure you have a dedicated spot to perform your job and connect with your clients and team members. Then, be sure to stay connected and have a plan for your day. Remember that it's a process. Give yourself—and your team—some grace.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Patrick Lucas Austin is a technology columnist at TIME. His work has also appeared in Complex, Gizmodo, The Wirecutter, Consumer Reports and others.