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7 tips for remote work in a time of COVID19

· Business,Remote Work

COVID19 has led me to a surprising working revelation – as many people are being thrown into the benefits and perils of home working for the first time, I am basically already set up for continued working in an apocalypse. That is assuming that the internet and telephone infrastructures remain intact of course (in a time of zombies or war this is not guaranteed).

I have been remote working for years. For most of 2017 and 2018, this gave me the freedom to work from anywhere and meant I travelled a lot – both within the UK and abroad. When I accepted a full-time role at the beginning of 2019, one of the conditions was that even though it was mostly remote working I didn't move around too much. I needed to be within travelling distance of London for any meetings. I spent several months working from my sofa. Mid-2019 my housemate moved out and I converted her room into my home office, and I have never looked back.

When you first start remote working, it can be daunting to tackle but I believe it has many long-term benefits – I might do a post on these at a different point. First, let's help you get good at it!

Image: Mikayla Mallek/ Unsplash

If you are remote working for the first time, here are 7 tips for remote working:

  1. Get dressed, but only if you want to. Lots of home working advice columns start with 'dressing for your work day' as the 'top tip' for home working. If it helps you with keeping a routine great, but quite frankly I enjoy not having the pressure to rush around and dress for the rest of the world. I'd advise against working in your PJs, but I say having 'day homeworking clothes' is OK – bring out the holey leggings, jogging bottoms and comfy jumpers. My caveat would be that it is sensible to have a smart top on standby for any impromptu video calls. And make sure you still wash on a regular basis otherwise you are at risk of never being able to rejoin civilised society.
  2. Set up a dedicated working space. I don't have a big house and I used to work from my sofa. I got very good at working from my sofa... so good that I struggled to stop working from it and I found it really tough to switch off. If you have the option, set a space aside just for work or at least try to make sure its not the same place that you would usually relax. Now I have my home office, I still end up working extra hours but once I leave my desk I actually stop working and my brain switches out of 'work mode'. The difference is stark – and you won't realise how much it improves your work-life balance until you do it. 
  3. Work to your body clock. You might have strict working hours in place, but if you have any flexibility then make it work for you. I am far more productive in the morning, so I'll skew my day towards an early start and early finish.
  4. Plan your breaks. No one is going to remind you to take a break and when you first work from home it can feel really important to make sure that everyone knows you are working all the time and not just sat around watching Netflix. I have a dog who needs to be walked, so I know that at some point I will need to allocate an hour in the middle of the day to take him out. Without a dog, plan a visit to the local shop (for those essentials!), go for walk/run or do a home workout – also take regular breaks to make tea, get a glass of water or put on some washing. Your productivity will thank you – individuals who take regular breaks have been shown to be more productive than those who don't.
  5. Stock your cupboards mindfully. You know yourself, so stock your cupboards on your essentials shop with the food you want and need. You have a real opportunity to shape your diet without the temptation of the local coffee shop, but there is nothing as depressing as repeatedly checking the kitchen and having nothing you want in the house. It's also really important to make sure you take time away from your screen to eat.
  6. Utilise technology for work and play. Our team uses a mix of What's App, emails, calls and video call software to keep in touch during the working day. You are not going to just run into people for a chat when moving around the office, so be proactive and reach out to other members of your team. Advice is that having channels for non-work chat really helps with socialisation and connectivity for work teams, too, so as well as your Marketing and Finance team channels, set up spaces for general chat, lockdown film recommendations or non-human work colleague photo sharing. We've just introduced a video call 'Cocktail Hour' on a Friday. 
  7. Take advantage of the ability to focus. Depending on who else is at home with you (hello working parents, I see you!), you may have the opportunity to really deep dive into projects with your whole focus. If you need any motivation on why this is a hugely beneficial thing to do, I'd recommend reading Deep Work by Cal Newport. I have turned off all the sound and visual notifications on my laptop and most of them on my phone, hidden my laptop menubar and muted most of my What's App groups. When I really need to concentrate, I put my phone into 'Do Not Disturb' mode or use the Forest app, which allows you to grow a virtual tree that you kill (😱) if you use your phone before the allocated time is up. 

The way that we work is likely to be changed for the foreseeable future, so I hope that you've found these top tips helpful.

Do you have any top tips for remote working? Share them in the comments!

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