May 14th, 2017 / Tech & Product

How to work remotely

Maybe you’re new to remote work. Maybe your boss just gave you the green light on WFH a few days a week.

In most workplaces, working remote is a privilege and not a given. It’s up to you to adapt to your company’s work style, meetings, and not the other way around. Here are some tips for how you can best set yourself up to be successful.

Set expectations

  • Send an email to anyone you anticipate working with and let them know where you’ll be and when. Setting expectations goes a long way.
  • Review your week’s calendar with timezones in mind. Adjust if need be.
  • Ensure all upcoming meetings are video-ready. You don’t want to be the person holding the team back.
  • Plan to have access to wifi. If you’re at home, that’s probably fine. But if you plan to be at your Mom’s remote cottage in Northern Ontario, you should arrange to dial in via phone or to make other arrangements.
  • Ensure you’ve got the proper PTO/Slack status/email responder etc. These small details help.
  • If you absolutely can’t make a meeting, give a heads and explain why.
  • Offer to send in your notes in advance and/or record a short vlog style video update and distribute it with your updates. These are fun to make and appreciated.

While you’re remote

  • Actually work. Let your family and friends know you’re unavailable during X time and ask them to respect that.
  • Don’t be shy to introduce roommates, partners, kids, etc. They WILL get in the way. You are integrating work/life and you need to look for harmony rather than strict boundaries.
  • Be specific with your Slack status
  • Overshare. every. day. Use all communication channels available.
  • Never say no to a video call (try to enable your camera at least for the beginning of the call)
  • Ensure you’re visible (in meetings, docs, email threads)
  • Get to know all your video conference software intimately. If typing, mute yourself please!

Tools for the job

Leading while remote

Speak with your team and ask them to share their best work conditions and communication styles. Set expectations with the team on how they’ll/you’ll work while remote. Set up syncs for the team to regroup and reconnect, morning kickoffs to check the team pulse and have some water cooler talk.

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For yourself — Be considerate of everyone’s situation. Some have families, elderly relatives, children, etc. Be early to meetings. Have agendas prepared. Email end-of-week recaps to your team and stakeholders. This isn’t comprehensive but should give you enough of an idea to adapt to your situation.

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For fun

Setup shared playlists, have pet video calls, share your setups, coffee chats, beer o’clock, whatever works for your team and culture.

For your health

Don’t forget to take a walk once in a while. Take some time to make a lunch. Now that you have all this free time, why not start that fitness routine? Start that meditation practice you’ve always wanted but never had the time for.

Conquering loneliness

Being in your pyjamas every day can get old fast, and you’ll appreciate some time away from your computer. Buffer has a guide to conquering remote work loneliness which is super helpful.

“Going on walks in new cities or enjoying a slow morning at a coffee shop before I begin working for the day help me feel connected to my environment.”

— Jacqueline Jensen, Buffer and 7in7 communities

Find community

Working remote or from home can be socially isolating. There are small things you can implement into your routine to find community, like listening along to livestreams while working, or joining public Slack groups like Design Social Club.

Places to work from

If working from home isn’t possible, you might consider working from a coffee shop. In major cities these can be congested and difficult to focus in. Some other options are:

  • Hotel lobbies
  • Public libraries
  • Co-working spaces

Additional resources

I hope this is helpful for some of you. Happy remote working!