Going from working in the office to completely remote can be challenging, especially with relatively short notice. However, there are teams that have been working remotely for years, so it’s certainly not impossible. The skills and techniques required to effectively work remotely differ from those required to succeed in person, meaning that there can be a significant learning curve for those with little remote work experience.
One of the first things that changes when people work remotely is the lack of casual conversations at the office. Instead of accidentally meeting someone who is walking down the same hallway and having an impromptu conversation, remote workers must intentionally start communicating with someone electronically. While this might seem like a small thing, it can have significant effects on how well-connected teams are, as well as individuals’ networking abilities.
A good way to mitigate this problem is by creating or joining a company-wide or large team chat service, which allows for more casual conversations to occur naturally. Employees who are feeling isolated from their peers can join in a channel with their peers in the same impromptu fashion as at the office.
When working at home, you physically cannot have anyone breathing down your neck. For this reason, your motivation can’t solely come from others. To work effectively in the work-from-home environment, you must be good at setting your own goals. Procrastination is easier at home, so it requires more willpower to refrain unproductive activities during work hours.
Watch Your Hours
Generally, office jobs have a relatively set timetable every day. Employees are expected to be in the office for at least a certain amount of time per day so that they can get their work done. Some employers have relatively flexible schedules, but there’s almost always a few hours in which nearly everyone is in the office. On the other hand, when working remotely, hours cannot be enforced. For most employers, so long as employees are getting their work done and showing up for scheduled meetings, their total hours aren’t relevant.
Even if you can choose hours that work for you, it can be bad for your mental health to work longer than usual. While it might be tempting to answer a question on Slack at midnight, turning off work devices and taking a break from work when you aren’t actively working can be a good idea to improve work-life balance. Since there’s no longer a spatial distinction between work and rest, the two can get blurred together in a dangerous way. Setting boundaries is a good way to maintain productivity and get some quality rest.
Be Flexible and Patient
During the coronavirus crisis, there are a lot of valid reasons for people to be late to calls or have trouble meeting deadlines. For example, parents (especially those with young children) are now having to be much more involved in their children’s education. Flexibility is particularly important in maintaining good relationships with coworkers.
While working virtually can be no problem for some people, it’s a major challenge for others. Time management and motivation become far more important when you work from home. Similarly, communication requires more conscious effort. To avoid burnout, be sure to set reasonable boundaries between your “work” and “home” lives. In general, even if working from home is awkward, it can work well for both employees and employers after learning the skills required to do it effectively.