Updated: Apr 23, 2020
With the spread of COVID-19, professionals everywhere need to know how best to work remotely, enjoy your work-from-home experience with our top tips from our experienced remote workers...
COVID-19 cases are on the rise. As of March 26, 2020: 13:10 GMT, there are 490,271 confirmed cases and 22,156 deaths from the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.
Why take action?
While this virus has not come anywhere close to the yearly mortality rate of Cancer, HIV, or even Influenza, it is still a global Pandemic that could wreak havoc upon Nations' National Health Service.
When a lot of people get sick with the same illness at the same time, requiring the same medical equipment to fix it - that puts an untenable strain on those in medical professions.
Those with existing health conditions or of older age are most at risk. Protect others by protecting yourself.
It is so important that the spread of the Virus is minimised.
Lockdown or Self-Quarantine?
Denmark is now the second European country to announce a 14 day lockdown, with Italy now dealing with over 10,000 infected residents, and the US having just announced a 30 day travel ban in and out of Europe (not including the UK).
Many Startups, Scaleups, Corporates, and Freelancers in the private sector are self-quarantined to help stem the effects of the virus.
Only 20% of companies currently allow for remote working, but 50% of jobs can be done remotely. Transitioning to a totally remote team does have its challenges, but once you are set up and know what to do it can be a great experience!
For everyone having to work remotely during COVID-19, here are our top 19 tips to help you stay productive, connected, safe, and healthy.
Seek Advice, Stay Healthy
First things first, if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 you must follow the advice from the WHO. Seek medical attention & testing and limit the spread of the disease.
"Maintain social distancing: at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease."
19 TIPS FOR REMOTE WORKERS DURING COVID-19
1. WORKING INTERNET
Well, you can't do much without it. Ensure you have a good working internet connection. To test it, try video calling family and friends in other locations, they'll soon tell you if something is wrong with the line! You can also run internet speed tests with Fast.com. If you do have an issue, contact your internet provider immediately and also make your clients, team-mates, and managers aware ASAP.
2. THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
Ensure you have the right equipment - a fast laptop/desktop, mouse, keyboard, computer stand, headphones. IMPORTANT: noise cancelling headphones are a god-send, we recommend wireless & comfortable, such as BOSE Quiet Comfortable (no we are not sponsored by Bose, we just love our headphones!)
3. SELECT YOUR WORKSPACE
Select your workspace and keep it clean & tidy, create a good atmosphere! Get your lighting right, and get your desk ergonomics right. Make sure your environment is conducive to professional work - that means your heating or cooling works, your washing machine isn’t on during a video call, your background is not too busy, your environment is not full of distractions. Not sure how? Mary Kwondo can help. And don't sit at your work space during your social time, keep the spaces as separated as possible.
4. STRUCTURE YOUR DAY
Routine is the key to a successful and productive remote life. You don't need to do the same thing every day, but you need to stick to your plans without getting distracted by your new environment. For a successful work day, the last thing you should do the day before, is make a plan, then break that plan down into smaller daily tasks that you can tick off as you complete them. There won't be anyone else around to give you praise, so, at the end of the day, look at your list and congratulate yourself on your accomplishments. Get into the habit of giving yourself small rewards for getting work done, such as an extra nice meal, doing some stretches, or finishing half an hour early the next day to take some time to treat yourself.
5. SET BOUNDARIES
Set boundaries with others at home with you - with everyone else on lockdown or self-quarantined, you don’t want your housemate/husband/daughter blaring music while you’re on a video call? Let each other know your schedules and set down some ground rules for what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.
6. SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Both for yourself and those you work with. Your clients, colleagues, or fellow freelancer team - sometimes it might take longer to complete work when getting used to a new situation. Try and figure out realistic timings - but you do have one thing on your side, remote workers are proven to be more productive than in-office so there is always a chance you may actually deliver earlier than you think!
Make time in your schedule to get outside, take a walk, make the most of good weather, and ensure you take your full breaks. Your gym may be closed but don't let that stop you! You can work out from home, and you can always go running. Solo sports are the best way to stay healthy and safe as the virus is transmitted through contact, but you can always have your friend on a call for motivation while you're running - it's a great time to catch up and stay motivated!
Over-communicate - engage on all platforms, working from home can be isolating, engage with your team and clients regularly to stay connected. If you or your company is not already set up on Slack, Trello, Asana, Monday, or the plethora of other digital communication platforms, suggest they do so immediately.
9. DON'T OVERWORK
Don’t overwork - avoid burnout by making sure you set strict end times for your day. Plan small social events after work so you know when to stop (events of less than 100 people during COVID-19 lockdowns!). Turn off and close your computer at the end of the day, good for the environment, good for your mental health. And don't let your work and social areas merge - see tip 1!
10. WHAT'S YOUR WORK-STYLE?
Self-awareness is super important with remote working. Get to know yourself better through honestly assessing your work style - are you happy in the morning? Make your client calls 9-12, need an afternoon pick-me-up? Schedule colleague chats or solo working time. You know what works for you and how to be your most productive, and that includes working smart.
11. MINIMISE DISTRACTIONS
Don't let your inner Cinderella strike! When a deadline looms, suddenly those dirty dishes look so enticing to clean - don't let procrastination win! Doing dishes is not that great. Have all the chores done the night before so you can minimise the need to clean. Minimise distractions - you can multi-task, but best not to. Do your laundry first thing in the morning or in the evening - not during the work day.
12. BE SYMPATHETIC
Remember, everyone is trying to adjust and probably most are finding at least one element tough - be empathetic towards others, this includes ensuring your online tone is on point. Sometimes emails and messages are read in a different tone to which they are written - if you need to say something sensitive or that could be taken in a different way to that with which it was intended, jump on a call instead.
13. FURRY FRIEND
Loneliness is one of the biggest epidemics in the world today, with 28% of adults saying they have experienced loneliness on a regular basis. And for freelancers and remote workers this number only goes up. If you are considering making working from home a permanent option, then consider a fluffy sidekick to keep you company. You can boost your serotonin levels and have a constantly cheery colleague! Not to mention, it has recently been proven that living with dogs as a baby boosts your immune system. Cats, rabbits, snakes, whichever animal you choose, check your local shelter first to see if there is a little friend that needs your love.
14. SNACK RUN
Get healthy food ready for snacks - you will get snacky and you are allowed to eat- whatever you want! Try to make sure that you have good brain foods available, this is easy to do if you have a fridge full of healthy greens & fruits, you could even consider pre-making lunch the night before. What is important is not to panic buy or stockpile any items. This reduces important goods available for others who may not have the mobility, health, or resources to traipse around multiple shops looking for supplies
15. LOG OUT!
Unless required for your work, try to minimise time spent on social media to lunch times & breaks - there are plenty of apps to prevent you scrolling, but you don't need them, simply log out of your accounts and log back in later. If you have an app like Lastpass that stores all of your passwords for you, you won't need to remember them to log back in. And remember to turn your social notifications off too!
16. BROWSER HACK
If you use one computer for personal and work, then consider using two different browsers, e.g. Chrome and Firefox, one for personal and one for business. If you don't, your browser will constantly suggests videos similar to those you watch in your leisure time and this will be very distracting. Consider downloading a new browser for your work. so you can stay on task.
17. IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING, GET HELP
There are a number of remote online counseling services to help during a self-quarantine, BetterHelp is a great example. You are important to this world, so take care of your mental and physical wellbeing.
18. IF YOU ARE SICK - DO NOT WORK
You need to rest. Do not turn on your computer, do not check your emails. Rest, sleep, relax, watch tv. DO NOT WORK, if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 then immediately seek medical help.
19. TRY TO ENJOY THE PERKS!
With so many stressful things going on around us, remote working can seem like a daunting endeavour - but if you do the preparation, stay focussed, and take care of yourself, you will be able to relax and enjoy all the perks of working remotely. Live on your own schedule, enjoy more time with your family, spend the day with your pets, listen to your own music, eat your own food - the choice is yours!
We hope this helps you make your remote working experience a good one, if you enjoyed this article please share with a friend, you never know who may need to read it.
Do you have a tip to share with the JOLT_ community? We'd love to hear it! Simply share in the comment section below...
Stay healthy people Xx