Managing Your Business

Tips From Remote Frontline Veterans

Are you finding adjusting to remote work difficult? Swyft Filings reached out to one of its partner companies who has utilized a fully remote team to get tips from the frontline employees who have been doing it every day for years. Here are some of the tips they offered:

1. Be deliberate about your workspace as best you can.

Jake has been doing remote work for more than ten years. He advises:  

"Designate a specific work area that allows you to keep your work and home separate. It doesn't have to be physical, it can even just be your setup. For example, I have a rolling desk that I use only for work. Make sure to step away from it on breaks and lunches."

Tiffany added that she sets up her workspace before she starts her day.

"Also, easy as it is to not, try to keep your work area at least tidy as you can throughout the day.  Sometimes it's easy to hyper-focus and forget to get the space clean and you end up with an unorganized mess."

2. Take breaks as you would in an office setting, but make the most of it.

If you take a break in an office setting, you may be able to grab a coffee and socialize with your co-workers. The remote veterans say you should treat your breaks the same way. Megan suggested:

"Taking a quick 'stand up and stretch' break can be very beneficial for your ability to focus when you are doing repetitive tasks."

Her teammate added that even if you can’t be social with other humans, put the work aside, get up and play with your pet, go outside, or call a family member. Don’t spend the 15-minute break in the same chair surfing social media.  Sky suggests:

"Take advantage of being remote. Incorporate a yoga session into your lunch break. Go walk your dog. If you take advantage of the perks, you won't feel the same claustrophobia as you would sitting at the same desk every day - whether that desk is at the office or at home."

3. Stay social with your co-works

Just because you don’t sit to someone does not mean you can’t continue to build social bonds.  Andie says:

"Staying in touch with your coworkers. Just because they're not right next to you doesn't mean they can't answer a question."

Sky likes that her team intentionally adds a social aspect to virtual meetings and communications.

"Set aside time in team meetings for everyone to socialize with each other. As a remote team, we do a lot of video calls. Something that has benefited our culture a lot is to spend the first or last ten minutes of these meetings not talking about work. For example, our customer service team starts out team meetings by recommending a song they've been loving that week. We add everyone's recommendations to a Spotify playlist that is shared with the whole team, and we bond over a shared nostalgic fondness for 90s R&B and making fun of one of our teammates for loving Rage Against The Machine."

4. Develop a routine and productive habits

The biggest hurdle for many newly remote employees is getting into a groove. You probably have already read that you should get up at the same time, dress for work and treat it the same as you would if you were going into the office. Jake offers:

"Set up routines. daily checklists, order of operations, something that creates a habit."

TIffany, who has worked remotely at both small companies and enterprises like Apple, says:

"Keep doing point checks on stuff you normally need to touch on helps (like for us buddy trackers, etc.)  The /remind me function in Slack is a GODSEND as well.  Also, enjoy dressing comfy, set alarms on phones for breaks and lunches if you need as it helps."

5. For those that like it, play the music or podcast

Just like studying, there are those that work better with music or background and those that don’t. Regardless of your preference, embrace it. Tiffany provided:

"Keep something going in the background - a show, music, podcast. If it's just outright silence, with no one to talk to verbally it can be really easy to space out a bit, so having something to the side helps."  

6. Overcommunicate, but be smart about it.

Sky manages the remote team and offers:

"Every team has its defined set of tools they use - tools to communicate with their team, to track productivity, to share documents, to host video conferences, etc. Not only is it imperative to have the right tools, but it is also important to establish ground rules for which tools to use depending on what you're communicating and its urgency. For example, do you have a project update that is not time-sensitive? Pinging people in chat may be distracting and unnecessary - instead, add a comment to your project management platform. Do you have information that is time-sensitive? Go to chat."

Sky sums it up nicely:

"If you think you are overcommunicating, you are probably communicating just enough."

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