Making the transition to remote work isn’t as easy as it may seem. For individuals or for companies. For the many professionals who have grown accustomed to the hustle and bustle of a daily commute, regular office chatter, or face-to-face meetings, it can be downright isolating. And (at times) painfully quiet, or, alternatively, louder than a house party.
Here are some top tips on making the transition to remote work:
- Humans were not designed to sit in front of a screen all day and, let’s be honest, usually aren’t very productive doing so. People new to Remote working are often in for a lot of surprises in the way life changes, but the challenges involved are manageable as long as you stick to some ground rules.
- Experiment with time and task management methodologies. Without any sort of default structure to your day, you have to take it to the next level. In an office, it’s easy to rely on the “normal routine” (get in at nine, take lunch at 12, leave at five). But now, you’re on your own. With incredible flexibility also comes incredible responsibility. Knowing the context of where you’ll be (home office, coffee shop, shared workspace) might also impact what you can get done.
- Find structure that works for you. This is critical in order to keep your work from taking over all of your waking hours. If you don’t have small children demanding your attention, find signals that keep you balanced.
- Set up short one-on-one meetings with your co-workers, even those you won’t interact with often. Find out what they do for the organization, ask them for advice on transitioning to remote work, and get to know them as people and not just a voice on the other end of a conference line. It’s the virtual equivalent of walking down the office hallway and introducing yourself to the people around you. Building those individual relationships is priceless.
- Get out of the 9-to-5 mindset as fast as possible. Before starting work for the day it is important to prioritize and focus on your top tasks – those that will drive your next project forward. Once your task list is complete, go home. Simple, right? Use whatever time savings you have to develop other professional skills, or simply to enjoy life.
- Focus on what adds value to your career and your life. Recognize that sometimes, tasks that add little value (and aren’t urgent) are unavoidable. It’s important that you try to only focus on what adds value.
- Get accustomed to over-communicating. For example, your colleagues in another location might come up with a new project idea during a lunch meeting, and the information might not get shared with you until well after the fact; they were so used to having you around that they’d forgotten you hadn’t been at lunch with them! This is a good reminder for all of us that deliberate, ongoing communication is vital to the success of remote teams.
- Set clear boundaries. This is incredibly important as when you’re around the house, there can be a natural assumption on the part of relatives, significant others, etc., that your physical presence equates with availability for conversation and other socialization. Gently help them understand that work time is off limits.
- Carve out a dedicated workspace.
- Project management systems are key. EVERYONE should be posting and communicating project updates via written channels and project management apps, such as Asana, Trello, Podio, Google Docs, etc. Regular video meetings and check-ins are also helpful to get that face-time you miss out on as a remote employee, and chat services like Slack can really help with team communication as well.
- Find a community around you. Once you’re working remotely and are no longer in the office, it can become REALLY lonely. You can’t just go grab lunch with your coworkers, you can’t yell across the room when you need something, you can’t crack jokes at the water cooler. It takes some time to get used to working by yourself; you do get the hang of it eventually, but there is a real hurdle to get over. Suggestion? Use the amazing Meetups App or any group activity that share your interests to get that connection with people. You can possibly find a co-working space in one of the many amazing new spaces popping up all over Ireland such as The Building Block in Sligo, the Porter Shed in Galway or the Republic of Work in Cork – these sites often also host events and online forums.
- Believe in what you’re becoming. Transitioning takes diligence, hustle, and consistency. It’s about being a student of your new chosen craft and devoting yourself to improvement. Perhaps the hardest part of the transition is believing you are this person you’re becoming and overcoming imposter syndrome.
There you have it; whether you’ve already begun designing your own remote adventure or are still somewhere in the process of determining exactly which remote worker profile suits you, you’ll have a head start with this hard-won advice on making the transition to remote work.