With mandatory stay at home and shelter in place policies to protect people from the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses and employees have made the rapid shift to remote work. At RH Strategic, we’ve been leveraging these technologies for years, and some of our employees have been working remotely for over a decade.
Given the current public health crisis, we made the decision to temporarily shut down our offices in Seattle and Washington, D.C., and to do all our work remotely. Thanks to all our existing experience with remote work, this has been a painless transition overall, and we’re enjoying the opportunity to share our knowledge with our clients and keep projects moving in this difficult time. We thought it would be beneficial to gather up the insights and tips we’ve been discussing internally and share them with our readers, so we put together this list of the top seven tips from our years of remote work:
- Distinguish between WFH and remote work. Working from home is meant to be a short-term arrangement, something that’s best leveraged when an employee is sick, traveling, or experiencing personal difficulties, like a sudden shift in childcare. On the other hand, remote work is a long-term arrangement, necessitating the establishment of a productive work environment at home.
- Create a dedicated workspace within your home. This could be a home office, a desk in a spare room or even a kitchen table. It doesn’t have to be a formal office space, but it needs to be a productive area where you can conduct video calls with minimal interruptions and consistently get work done.
- Establish and maintain a normal work routine. If remote work is new to you, you’ll have to adjust to the fact that you no longer have a commute – and the downtime in which to read, collect your thoughts, play games or just chat with friends. We need that downtime to be effective at work. Make sure to build in alternate opportunities for these activities to ensure your mental acuity.
- Treat your workday just as you would at the office. This means taking regular breaks, getting lunch and, to the extent possible with client deadlines, preserving normal office hours. It can be helpful to make deals with yourself, i.e. “If I finish reviewing this award submission, I will go get a snack or take the dog for a walk around the block or unload the dishwasher.”
- Be clear with your family or roommates about your availability. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you’re available. This can take a certain amount of education and boundary-setting, which is much easier when you have a dedicated workspace where you can put on headphones, shut the door or otherwise indicate that you should not be disturbed.
- Block your calendar when you’re away from your computer. If you plan to be offline for a period of more than just a few minutes, block your calendar or change your status within tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. For example, if you plan to make lunch and will be away for half an hour, write “Lunch – offline.” If you know a team member may need to contact you, send them a message and let them know to text/call if urgent.
- Build in time for collaboration and team discussion. Working remotely limits spontaneous interaction, making it so you can’t just get up and ask someone a question. Use software like Slack or RingCentral to chat with coworkers or set up quick calls. It can be helpful to set up regular stand-up meetings for teammates to check in, chat about issues, work on projects or brainstorm new ideas.
RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based communications firm with a nationwide presence and additional global reach via membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. We provide strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, government and healthcare markets.