Tips for remote work from Rise, a fully remote company
Working from home for the long term is different from working from home for a day—and it can be downright overwhelming. We know because we’ve been there ourselves: unsure of how to structure our day or when to actually step away from work.
Here at Rise, we’re fully remote—everyone on our team works from home. As a human-centric organization, we believe that remote work nurtures a happy, productive, and diverse workforce. And we have leadership (also working remotely) who give us the tools and support we need to do it right.
Consequently, we’ve become quite proficient as a remote organization. So, we’ve put together some tips from our team that can help your team better adjust to this new norm of working.
Above all, communicate and stay flexible: What works for one person might not work for others.
- Take a few minutes first thing in the morning to set goals for what you want to accomplish. Make them small and achievable. Write them down and check them off as you complete them. This helps keep yourself accountable and provides a rewarding sense of accomplishment as you tick items off the list.
- For projects that require heavy concentration, use an app like Freedom to help stay focused. Set the timer, choose the websites (or all online activity), and voila! Unless you turn off your computer, you can’t access those sites until the time is up.
- Leave your phone out of arms’ reach. The flexibility of working remotely can sometimes form bad habits, like answering the phone when friends call during the workday.
- Remember that every time you create structure, you limit flexibility and creativity. Always err on the side of enabling people to do what’s best for them.
- Get ready for work. Have you heard the phrase, “Look good. Feel Good. Do good?” In short, the way you feel impacts the way you approach tasks. I’ve found that I feel most successful when I get dressed for the day, even if that means throwing on workout clothes so that I’m prepared for a post-work sweat session!
- Put work “away” and don’t come back to it until the next day. Make liberal use of Slack’s Do Not Disturb hours, so you don’t get pinged!
- Keep a regular schedule, even if your employer doesn’t require it. Your schedule might not be a standard 9-5 workday, but like getting dressed, having a schedule helps get you into the “I’m at work” mindset. Changing clothes at the day’s end also helps release you into the “I’m at home” mindset after work.
- You will not be able to attend every online meeting—and that’s okay, especially if it helps you focus on a certain task. Constantly context-switching between your current work, Slack messages, and Zoom meetings will leave you mentally exhausted. It’s okay to prioritize your own work and mental well-being. Don’t be a hero. You can’t do everything.
- Make it hard to work after hours. If you talk to anyone who works from home, they’ll tell you it’s hard to separate yourself from your work—after all, the commute time is just seconds.
- Find a sign or create one yourself so that your kids and partner know when to enter your workspace—and when to stay away.
- Distractions are the new normal. Whether it’s kids walking into your office or your cat sending a “oiau987asdf97askdfj” message to the whole company, just brush it off and move on. It’s not embarrassing or a cause for concern. Just acknowledge that these things will happen and set the expectation that distractions are inevitable.
- Another idea is to purchase an “On Air” illuminated sign for your office door, connect it to Wi-Fi, and set your computer to detect when the camera is enabled for an automatic turn-on.
Organizing your workspace
- Designate a space for work, and it can’t be the couch in your living room! Take the time to find a designated space to work, whether it’s from your dining room table, a spare bedroom, or a corner in your living room. Set it up with a desk, comfy chair, storage, and even encouraging quotes. If possible, use this space for work only; pay your bills somewhere else in the house.
- Chances are you’ll be on video calls quite a bit, so take the time to “style” the space behind your screen. It doesn’t have to be decorative, but it should be non-distracting. Some video conferencing apps also include virtual backdrops or a blurred background feature.
- Leaving the house is super helpful, even if it’s for a short walk with the dog or a partner. It resets your brain so that you’ll be more productive after.
- Be honest with your coworkers about your availability, such as if your work mornings are slow to start because of family obligations. When you know what you need to do on any given day, you’ll be more apt to get it done and not feel guilty about taking the time you need for family.
- Start and end your day with a routine. Perhaps before, you listened to a podcast on the way to and from work. Now, maybe you can adapt your routine to taking a short walk or finishing breakfast with your partner. And when it’s time to end the day, close the blinds and laptop, and even close the door to your office if you have one.
- Put your health and wellness first. Build in a morning run or workout into your schedule and stick to it. It’s so easy to stay glued to the computer throughout the day without the normal social prompts that we have in a co-located office.
- Take a few minutes to transition from work life back to home life at the end of the day. When you’re working at home, it’s normal for work to bleed into home and vice versa. By taking a few minutes at the end of your day to tidy up loose ends and mentally shift back into home/family life, you’re doing yourself, your family, and maybe even your coworkers, a big favor.
- When in online meetings, allow people to mute themselves or turn off their cameras. Don’t force participation; some people are more private than others. The goal is to create an environment that people are comfortable in.
- Lean in on your community. Take time to connect with your direct team and explore ways to build personal relationships with peers. At Articulate, we have a channel for almost every topic of interest—music, food, wellness, and finance, to name a few. Taking a few minutes out of the day to have access to safe spaces to discuss topics unrelated to work is refreshing.
- If you’re using instant messaging tools like Slack or Skype, remove the expectation that responses will be instant. Your coworkers are busy and thoughtful and will need time to hone their replies. Some of them will use playful language, while others are more professional, like in an email. And that’s totally okay. As you continue to use these tools, your organization will naturally establish and evolve a tone that fits your culture.
- When you don’t work face-to-face, ask more questions, give more context and details, and put yourself in others’ shoes. Nuance and tone can get missed over typing, so practicing and assuming positive intent is key.
- The watercooler is gone, but that doesn’t mean casual conversations and social interaction are missing in action as well. Actively participate in Slack rooms and engage in private conversations. You will be surprised at how much better you get to know your coworkers when you can dive into deep conversations rather than the surface-level, “How is your family doing?”
- Find the setting to enable joining video conferencing meetings muted by default. This is usually not enabled, and you’ll join meetings without knowing your microphone is hot!
- Krisp.ai has been a lifesaver for meetings in that it helps cut down on background noise and makes meetings far more pleasant overall.
- Advocate for good technology that makes it easy to collaborate online. G Suite, Slack, Zoom, and GitHub are some of the tools used at Articulate. We also use Rise, an all-in-one training system which makes it easy to create training that employees can take from anywhere.
- For anyone working on a computer for long periods of time, remember to take a break and rest your eyes! Walking away from the computer or looking out the window gives your eyes a chance to relax.
- Even if you’re the only one at home and you never join a video call, get dressed and make yourself presentable, as if you’re going to work in the corporate office. Doing so helps shift your mentality from “I’m hanging around the house relaxing” to “I’m in the office getting work done.”
These tips are meant to give you ideas for how to be a successful remote worker. New ways of doing old tasks can take some getting used to, but once you’ve created a workspace and developed a new routine, you might find that remote work can be even more engaging and productive than going to an office.