When it comes to work, I’m a people person. Problem that needs solving? Let’s sit down and hammer out a solution together. Give me a whiteboard and an enthusiastic team and I’m in. Bring on the sticky notes and brown paper. Work, for me, is about making new connections, challenging myself and feeling like I am making a difference.
One thing I thought for sure; working from home would never be my thing.
And yet here I am; in my second month of remote working and I am enjoying the new experience.
This is probably a good moment to explain that I had a choice to follow this path. Before the world turned, I took a job that would require remote working. I am grateful every day that my role in our business fits this naturally, given that is not the case for a lot of people at the moment.
So what has a people person like me learnt since taking on this new version of normal?
Create a routine. Take time to make a clear start, and even more importantly, end to your working day. Your body and mind will thank you for it. Routines can be anything: some exercise to start or round up the day, prepping some healthy snacks to grab later, tidying up your home, making a coffee or maybe meditating. Find whatever works for you, and stick to it.
Communicate. Make sure people know how to contact you and can see when you are available. Adjusting your tooling settings and your calendar availability can help with this. Try to use your webcam when you can. It is ok not to answer every instant message in real time. Your colleagues know you well enough to know that you are doing something else and will get back to them later. Communication tools should never be used to measure productivity or availability. Never. Say goodbye at the end of the day.
Lock up your laptop! Make a point to shut down your laptop at the end of the day and keep work apps to a minimum on your mobile. There are fewer physical boundaries between work and home life when remote working. The lines get blurry and there is a tendency to want to check one last thing when the link to your professional life is within grabbing distance 24/7.
Invest in your workspace. Take time to make it your own. We don’t all have the ability to have a dedicated room to call our home office, but try to find ways to define the space. Incorporate a way to let others know when you are working and can’t be disturbed. Buy a plant for your desk. Think about how to upgrade your set-up so that you are not hunched over a laptop all day. Find some wall space where you can hang up a piece of artwork, motivational messages or photos that make you happy.
Take. Time. Out. Don’t forget to introduce water cooler moments even if your water cooler is now the kitchen tap. Take lunch away from your desk. Set up some 15 minute check-ins with colleagues online, plan a quick call to a family member or friend. Talk to the dog. Or that new plant on your desk. Don’t feel guilty - these moments would occur naturally whilst in the office and are crucial for your mental wellbeing.
Use technology. Talk to your team about investing in tooling that will help with collaboration. This could be a laptop with a touch screen you can scribble on instead of a whiteboard, or a multi-directional microphone and camera so that you can join a meeting in a more dynamic and immersive way. Whatever you need, it is likely to be an investment that will pay for itself multiple times over in the end.
Don’t let technology use you. Take a moment to look at how you work digitally – cyber security is easy to overlook when not in the office. Are you in a shared house? If so, check that your devices are password protected and that your internet connection is safe. (Remove those default passwords!) Use VPN where possible. Use a password manager and lock your screen when away from your laptop. Keep your software up to date; this can often be covered off by shutting down at the end of the day. Updates are then automatically applied at start up.
I chose this new version of normal – so got a chance to adjust.
By taking these steps – and seeing the smiling faces of my team wherever possible – there are simple pleasures and new joys to be found for this newly remote people person.
Sue Wade is Head of Customer Success at Learn Amp – we are an Employee Experience Platform that helps to make work life, work better.
A digital learning platform can be a great way for your company to facilitate remote working and training, especially when all your content, pathways, performance management tools and more are within one system.