We’re two weeks into this new normal of everyone working remotely and dreaming of being able to just go back to our normal workday where we can complain about our daily commute and how Bob from IT always reheats fish in the office microwave. (P.S. Bob, no one should do that. Ever. Please stop.)
While we may still be a long way off from complaining about Bob and his fish, you can do five simple things that will help you rock the remote life and make your interactions throughout the day just a little bit easier.
Check in Regularly.
Tempted to cancel that standing meeting you have once a month with your coworker? Don’t do it. In fact, consider making it a more regular occurrence. While working remotely means you can work in your pajamas (although we don’t recommend it), it also means those casual hallway and water cooler conversations are no longer happening. And, like it or not, a lot of work happened in those informal chats.
If you are someone’s boss or you’re managing a project, check-ins are even more important. Make sure you are connecting with your employees daily and blocking out time in your meeting agenda to check-in on them as a human. Our jobs were stressful before but are even more so now that we’re dealing with a global pandemic, being trapped in the house with a spouse or roommate or kids climbing on us while we’re trying to get that TPS report completed. Make sure to check in on their well-being – help guide them to take care of themselves mentally, physically and emotionally. Then you can get to the work piece.
When we’re never really leaving the house, our days and our projects can start to blend into one giant, ongoing activity with no real end. And while that may drive most of us to want to open a bottle of wine, we suggest instead taking control and getting clear on what needs to be done. If you’re feeling unsupported, unclear about your work assignments or like your needs are not being met, speak up. It’s on you to bring it up to your manager so you can get the support and clarity you need. Set a meeting and ask for guidance and direct feedback. It’s okay to let them know you’re struggling and you need some support to be able to move forward.
While it may seem obvious, we all know that one of the biggest drivers of engagement is knowing what is expected of you at work. Turns out it’s really hard to be excited about what you’re doing if you’re not really sure of exactly what that is. It’s our responsibility to make sure we’re helping to set clear expectations for our coworkers and employees. If you’re running a project, don’t assume others know what you’re thinking. It’s okay and encouraged for you to take a more active role in assigning and fully explaining what you want each person to do. Remember to clarify scope of work, deadlines and resources.
Tell Someone They’re Doing a Good Job.
Recognition and affirmation are important to all of us, and when we’re working remotely, it’s easy to get into our own heads and question the quality of our work. Pick up the phone and let someone know they’re doing great – at work and/or at life. We’re all playing a balancing game right now and it’s our job to tell someone else when they’re crushing that game. We promise it will make you feel good, too.
Stop Powering Through and Take a Break.
We’ve covered this one before in previous articles, but it is even more pertinent today. Studies show we are far less productive when we try to just "power through" the work despite being tired or unfocused. Breaks are like a refreshing shower for your mind (also, make sure you’re taking a real shower, too) – they help you reset your focus, boost your energy and everyone will like you better afterward. Be sure to schedule two 15-minute breaks in your day to help you get refocused. Here’s how to win at the break-taking game:
Break with someone you like (on the phone or one of those tiny coworkers that might be at home with you.
Don’t talk about work on your break.
Go outside and MOVE. Moving breaks are always better than sitting. Make sure you’re following the rules and practicing social distancing (6 feet between you and others).
- Don’t take your phone if you can help it. At the very least, no Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or anything else from the World Wide Web. Just focus on you and the beautiful world around you.
Kara Albert is an independent consultant who is passionate about helping people succeed and who has spent more than 15 years helping people and organizations be their very best. She currently resides in Chicago and is an avid foodie and traveler.