Bonus: Tips for Working Remote
At Pace, most of the work we execute for clients is remote. Although we have the pleasure of meeting with a number of local clients in-person, we have a lot of practice serving clients all over the country. Our team has compiled our top tips for working remotely to help your teams if working remotely is new to them!
Routine is important. We all form habits and I’m sure you had some habits or routines for when you went into the office. Perhaps you stopped at a coffee shop on the way, or always checked in with a co-worker right when you arrived. Now that you are working from home, do NOT abandon a routine. You will need to adjust the routine to accommodate your new work environment. Take a little time to map out what kind of routine will help you start your work-from-home day off well so you can be productive the rest of the day.
Dress like you’re going to work. One of the first things I hear from people when they discover they will work from home is, “I get to work in my pjs!” Don’t do it. Our brains make associations with clothing, the textures, how they make us feel and level of comfort they bring us. We are wired to be relaxed if we are in pajamas, not productive. Dress like you would want to be seen if you were going into the office to help boost your mental state and your productivity.
Choose a dedicated location. Working from home can make the separation between work and home a lot harder, especially if you do not have a dedicated workspace. If you do not have a home office or spare room that can act as an office, choose a location in your home that will help you stay productive.
Use a timer. This will help you stay focused on important projects and also remind you to take breaks to stretch your legs. Setting a timer can help keep you motivated to stay focused on an activity for a given amount of time because you know there will be a break soon. Constraining the amount of time you give yourself to complete a task can actually help it go faster. Reverse engineer Parkinson’s law so you do not allow your work to expand to “fill the time available for its completion.”
Take breaks physically away from your computer. Mentioned briefly in the above point, it is important to move your body. I personally do this better in an office setting with trips to the kitchen to refill my water or tea, or a walk around the block. Do the same at home. Take a 10-20-minute brain break every 50-90 minutes. During this break, stay away from your screen, use a different area of your brain and relax.
Video conferencing: It is easier than ever to move your meetings to video conferencing and there is a plethora of options available to do so. Our team utilizes Zoom for video conferencing to collaborate on projects, host client meetings and currently for a virtual break room!
File sharing: Most of the companies we work with today already have a file sharing system in place. Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive and other platforms will allow your teams to share and collaborate on documents without passing multiple versions back and forth through email.
Project Management tool: This is absolutely essential for our team as we are typically coordinating over 100 projects at any given time. A project management tool like Asana, LiquidPlanner or TaskRay (lives within the Salesforce platform), will allow you to build out projects for your teams and assign specific tasks to team members. Many of those tools also allow you to communicate directly within the platform so you can keep all internal communications tied to that project.
Internal communication tool: Email can get messy, especially when managing several messages about internal projects. One digital best practice is to implement an internal communication platform such as Slack or the Chatter feature within Salesforce. This will allow teams to communicate and collaborate within one platform and keep emails down to a minimum. It is also trackable and searchable, making it easy to look back when needed.
“Coffee breaks”: Set up a virtual break room for your team so they can have the time they need to socialize and bond as a team. We have done this through Zoom by setting up a recurring meeting and sharing the link to that meeting with all of our team members. When someone is going to take a break, they will tag the team in our internal communication tool saying they welcome company on their break away from their desk. Since Zoom includes a mobile app, they are able to take this break away from their desk while still having a video feature that allows them to see each other face-to-face.
Phone calls: Pick up the phone! We have so many ways to talk to each other without actually talking to each other that it would be easy to go through a work-from-home day without using our voice. Be intentional about picking up the phone and talking to your coworkers from time to time to stay connected. Your emails, messages and chats do not capture your voice, tone or inflections, so it is important to connect by voice to build comradery and caring within the team.
Creative bonding: Use your internal communication tools to play some games with the team. It could be something as small as everyone sending a photo of their work-from-home set up or creating a poll for your team to interact with. There are also some online games that allow for collaboration. I recently saw a social media post where a friend’s work team was Quiplash via Zoom. Our team has not tried that yet, but we will!
Even if you are a seasoned work-from-home pro, I hope these tips help you be productive and stay connected to your team members. Ultimately it is about making progress, which we cannot do in isolation. Visit us on Facebook to let us know some of your favorite work-from-home tips!