Rita Fitzgerald graduated from college at the very end of the 2008 recession. She was the youngest person at her first job, so they had her working on the digital side of the house, which led her to become a full-fledged marketer with a focus on digital marketing. When she was pregnant with her first child, she got the opportunity to start working remotely, and she’s been doing remote work ever since.
The Challenges of Working From Home
In the current environment, how comfortable you are working from home is directly linked to how prepared your employer was to make the transition to the work from home model. Not only is everyone trying to achieve high levels of productivity, but we’re also trying to survive a global pandemic.
Remember that the things we have to do right now are not normal, even for those of us that were previously working from home. Typically when working from home, you wouldn’t be trapped in your home, working with your spouse and trying to homeschool your children.
In the long term, working from home is going to teach you new skills and tactics to help yourself be productive during times of stress and traumatic events. Working from home wasn’t a choice for many people, but with this new skill set, it’s possible that the current situation can help you advance your career as you apply new strategies to be more productive in a less-than-ideal environment.
How to Do Remote Work Successfully
Different strategies work well for different people when it comes to creating an environment that you’re most productive in, although there are a few staples that can make or break your remote work experience.
Hyper-communication goes a long way when working with a remote distributed team. It’s best to over-communicate when your team is distributed to help ensure they understand what’s going on at any given time. Hyper-communication is also helpful in case someone on your remote team has to take time off due to unforeseen circumstances. The team can continue moving forward, and someone else can step in.
Time-tracking will also play an essential role in your success as a remote employee. Tracking your time doesn’t mean that your boss is going to be micromanaging you to make sure you’re getting work done. Instead, time-tracking helps you manage time better. Once you’ve tracked a particular task, you will have a better understanding of how long it will take you to complete similar tasks in the future, which will help you plan out your days more effectively.
Another critical aspect of working remotely is establishing boundaries. It’s easy for someone that’s a workaholic to use work as a distraction, especially during times of crisis like a national pandemic. It’s essential to take time whenever you can to disconnect from work and do other things you enjoy. Working long hours isn’t sustainable long-term.
Tips on Hyper-Communication
Practicing hyper-communication while doing remote work can be difficult, and even feel a little strange for individuals that are new to the concept.
The success in hyper-communication as a remote team can be attributed to communication silos. It’s best to have separate platforms for internal and external communication. Communications between your internal team have the potential to be extremely overwhelming for clients. There may be certain conversations you don’t want your clients to see. There should also be a space for your team to interact with each other to ask questions and build rapport.
Helpful Tools for Working Remotely
At Uhuru, we utilize platforms that help streamline the productivity of our remote team, and each tool has a specific function.
All of our client communications happen on a platform called Redbooth. The only communication that occurs over email is calendar invites—this is because emails can get lost easily.
Jira is similar to Redbooth, but we use this platform for all of our internal work. It’s a project management system that ensures our team has a good understanding of how the sprint will look. All of the internal communication that is task-specific that doesn’t require clients insight or input can be kept in Jira. Everything is organized in Jira by the project and task. You also have access to higher-level data that shows how future sprints can be optimized.
Slack is where most internal communication can happen—you can think of it as your “water cooler.” You can create public channels for work-related topics like client and grammar questions, and fun channels where your team can share memes and laugh with each other. The public channels are essential for hyper-communication because they keep the entire team in the loop about each client.
The G Suite is something that helps ensure everything is connected. Google Drive is great for making sure that things don’t get lost, and the right people always have access to the documents they need to do their job.
It’s a good idea to have several different virtual meeting tools. Many virtual meeting platforms are overwhelmed with many companies and schools using them during this time. GoToMeeting, Zoom, and Google Meet are all great options.
A few other platforms that are extremely helpful in a remote environment are LastPass and Loom. LastPass is an excellent tool for securely storing and sharing passwords amongst your team. Loom is a platform that allows you to screen record videos that you can share easily with a link—this is helpful when you’re trying to explain something you need help with to a team member or trying to teach a team member how to complete a specific task.
Common Mistakes People Make While Working From Home
There’s a common misconception that people who work from home are less productive, which typically isn’t the case.
Some people doing remote work can get into a trap of over-performing because they want to prove their value, resulting in people being a slave to their notifications. It’s easy to feel like you have to over-perform because you don’t see someone’s face each day.
A common downfall for distributed teams is constantly feeling the need to respond to notifications immediately. This leaves you with very little time to get your actual work completed, and it can be challenging to stay focused. It’s a good idea to block time at the beginning and end of each day to respond to notifications to ensure you’re staying on track, and nothing gets missed. If you’re managing a remote team, you may also want to schedule time midday to check your notifications as well.
Another pitfall people may run into is trying to duplicate someone else’s structure. Remember, what works well for someone else may not work for you. You may prefer to put on nice clothes and do your makeup each morning, while others would rather use that time to expand their knowledge. Whether you’re working from your home office, back porch, or your couch—do what works best for you.
Rita’s favorite author right now is Glennon Doyle she says her memoirs hit home for her. She’s currently reading Arguing with Zombies by Paul Krugman. It’s a non-fiction commentary about the lies that exist in the news and culture that have been proven but still persist within the public perception.
Want to Connect with Rita? Find Her Here
LinkedIn: Rita Fitzgerald