Remote working 101: 4 tips to help you succeed
Due to COVID-19, more companies are adopting a policy that allows employees to work remotely in an effort to curb the spread and infection. We foresee remote work being adopted by more and more companies before the situation gets better.
Working remotely is not common practice in Asia (at least from my observation). For example, my boss from a previous company was not a fan of remote work and doubted its advantages when I mentioned my experience of working remotely for 3 to 4 years.
Remote working at Tenten
Although we don’t primarily work remotely, at Tenten we have adopted many tools to organize projects and work efficiently with one another.
We utilize different tools for different purposes. We have Slack and Zoom for communication between the team and clients; Notion and Confluence for information management; Dropbox and OneDrive for documents; and ClickUp and Trello for project management. As for CRM, our marketing team utilizes HubSpot (by the way, we’re HubSpot Certified Gold Partners!). Figma and Jira are respectively adopted by the design team and development team and they are very helpful for agile development (check out Adopting Remote Working if you are interested in the tools we use!).
As a result, we are not interrupted by COVID-19 in any way. Because we are used to optimizing our use of digital tools, neither will our productivity and efficiency be affected.
How to work remotely and efficiently
I was a so-called “digital nomad,” which means someone who uses technology and the Internet to work without being in a fixed place. So, I am pretty familiar with remote working in a way.
I believe it could actually be more productive to work remotely than coming to the office if you have good discipline and time management.
Tip 1: Set your routine
The don’ts: Don’t wing it. Never do whatever you want whenever you want just because you get to arrange your time freely.
During my early stages of remote working, I slept till I woke up and that was usually in the afternoon. The problem with that is my family and friends would not know if I was still working when it was their time to work or get off work. As a result, I was easily distracted with family members doing their things or a message from a friend (well, this is probably on me, not them). This would cause me to take more time to get back into the work zone. Also, I sometimes ended up working for too long and be starving when it was almost midnight and restaurants were closed so I had to eat whatever would stop me from being hungry. Getting up late and going to bed late, I was basically living in a different time zone.
I then decided to have a routine: wake up at 8:30 am, work out for an hour, get breakfast and go to work. I gradually realized that I would concentrate the most in the afternoon after I had a set routine. I then arranged tasks which required more concentration in the afternoon. This not only increased my productivity and efficiency but also made me healthier because I got to work out and prepare my own meals.
Alternatively, a couple of hours of concentration at any time of the day is helpful too. For example, I would tell my colleagues who might need to reach out to me that I would switch on “do not disturb mode” for the next 3 to 4 hours when I needed to concentrate for a while. Comparatively, 3 hours of full concentration sounds almost impossible in an office when there is a lot going on or phones ringing.
Speaking from my experience, it is better to have a workday routine to stay productive, such as what time to wake up for breakfast, work, breaks and so on. That way, you are able to arrange your time, make good use of it, and set “work mode” for yourself to separate your life from work and keep yourself from overworking.
Tip 2: Prioritize your tasks and do it
I would recommend listing what you have to do every day and prioritize them, especially if you have a memory of a goldfish like myself. Use a to-do list app and add any task you think of so you won’t miss something.
Start the day with the most urgent tasks. What I do when I am getting distracted is pick some little things which may take less than 10 minutes to finish from the list and do it. That way, my momentum doesn’t get interrupted.
Tip 3: It’s the quality that matters not the hours you spend working
As a supervisor, you do not have to micromanage or constantly check upon employees to see if they are working. Instead, set the goals, objectives, and deadlines. The number of hours spent on a project would not matter if you have an output that exceeds your expectations, right?
It is actually a good thing if your employees are capable and can finish their tasks earlier to create some time for themselves, we are learning the importance of work-life balance more and more in today’s workforce. This may encourage employees to enhance themselves or seek ways to work more efficiently (a study shows that remote working would boost productivity).
As an employee, you do not have to feel guilty to take a walk or watch a video if you have already done your tasks for the day. Take a nap for an hour and finish your task later if you have to because you did not sleep well the night before. This may result in better output than trying to juggle working and staying awake.
In fact, successful companies like HubSpot allow their employees to have flexible working hours and unlimited vacation. The secret to success? The balance between life and work is one of them.
Tip 4: Go out (but only when the situation allows!)
I would suggest leaving your place and going out (only when the situation allows and be sure to practice social distancing during COVID-19). It does not matter if you are going out for food, doing grocery shopping to cook for yourself, or going to a convenience store that is not in your neighborhood.
Take at least 20 to 30 minutes to venture outside every day to let your brain rest and stretch your body, which could be helpful for your concentration.
Hanging out with your colleagues is also an option. It could be a good opportunity to bond with each other and keep the flow going. After all, you do not see each other often if you are working remotely.
Remote working is easier than it seems
As long as you have the right tools to help you and an effective way to communicate with your team, remote working may maximize output and keep the team productive and energetic.
Remote working is surely becoming trendy (not only as a measure to fight the COVID-19). I mean, after all, this is 2020, so make good use of the digital tools and technology!