Pajamas, slippers and a baseball cap may be your uniform of choice, but look professional when it matters. Set up video calls as much as possible. You can gain a lot from and contribute much more to a conversation face-to-face. Seeing and talking with everyone is a good way to have more social interaction (and kick loneliness to the curb), improve communication and deepen relationships. And you won’t be tempted to multitask.
Make your calendar visible and stay on your colleagues’ radar. In a remote work environment, it’s important to overcommunicate and inject all you write and say with more personality than you normally would so people can truly “see” you. Send and quickly reply to emails and participate as much as possible during meetings. Keep a to-do list and share it regularly with your team so they always know what you’re working on, and your progress. And be sure to set your work hours and tell your team. Having a set start time and end time can help you draw boundaries around your workday. Then once the day is through, mentally leave work behind, either by putting your laptop away or simply shutting your office door.
When you want to stop procrastinating and get more done, remember to eat the big frog first. Tell yourself to try a dreaded task for just 5 or 10 minutes. You’ll probably discover the hard part was simply starting, and you’ll more than likely push through until it’s done.
Are you an extrovert who likes to talk on the phone? An introvert who shudders at the thought and would rather a billion pings from messaging software? Tell your coworkers how you like to communicate and keep in close contact with them. And when cabin fever hits, stave it off, if possible, by working elsewhere – at a coffee shop or at a coworking space from time to time. A change in scenery may be all it takes to stoke your creativity and rev up your productivity.
Also, focus on team bonding to build comfort and trust. Our best advice? Take an hour or so each month to hop on a call and have a good time together as a team, without any thought of work. Play games (we like Drawsaurus, Family Feud and Kahoot!, to name a few), try some ice breakers or simply enjoy a virtual happy hour, whatever it takes to find the fun!
Weave together your personal responsibilities and your work obligations. Color-code your work and personal tasks on your calendar and sync it to your phone so you know at a glance what needs to get done. Block off time for lunch and breaks to stay sharp and productive. Need ideas for your downtime? Step back from your screens and rest your eyes. Cook. Knock out some housework while listening to your music playlist or audiobook. Exercise or catch up with family and friends. If work still calls, hop back on later to wrap up projects or knock out email.
In a remote environment, set clear expectations, communicate goals, aspirations and preferences. Keep track of your accomplishments and progress and have the courage to manage your boss, or your boss’s boss to improve your career prospects. Wondering how to go about this? Check out these insightful reads, Manage Your Manager, It’s OK To Manage Your Boss and Suddenly in Charge.