Remote working places challenges for many of us. As I have been working remotely for some time now, I know it is not always easy: many do not have an office room at home, let alone enough lockable space to cater for 2 home “officers” and several children of school age to do their work. We get interrupted and even mundane tasks as preparing lunch / dinner in time get into the way of a seemingly endless stream of conference calls. Most people I have been talking too during the last weeks have the impression they work even more than before, as the usual coffee break or travel time (esp. for consultants) or way to work no longer take place.
Based on my experience I have compiled a "Best of" addressing various facets of Remote Working: a) Finding Space b) Overcoming Tech. Emergencies c) Staying Motivated
If you are lucky and have an office room that can be locked just for yourself, you can skip this section. For the rest, some more creative approaches to solve this primary challenge:
👉 Buy a wifi repeater – a) it will increase stability of your online connections b) it allows you to explore more rooms / spaces in your home. E.g. we turned the homecraft table in our basement into a working desk in addition to using the desk in our bedroom
👉 Make a deal with your schoolkids: Use their room and their desk (if it is not height adjustable, try out a standing desk conversion kit – it is supposed to be good for your health, too) while they may move to the kitchen table (as their homework will probably not take up an entire day). Remember to include breaks so that they can get their stuff out of the room regularly.
👉 For phone conference calls take a walk & talk (if you are not on a complete lock-down). It will boost your mood and health if you combine a call with a walk outside, and kids cannot interrupt you.
👉 If there is really no quiet place at home, escape into your parked car (if you have one). You can put your phone on speaker and even have the laptop on your knees if needed, if you choose the passenger seat.
Overcoming Tech. Emergencies
If you are lucky and your online connection does not break down and you are the king or queen of online tools, you can skip this section. For the rest, these tips might be helpful in the case of tech. emergencies:
👉 Ask the presenter to send the presentation well in advance so you can display it on your own in case the video connection gets lost (ask also not to forget that they to always tell on which slide he/she is)
👉 If you did not get the presentation in advance and if it does not get through when sent during the call, ask a colleague via IM to do screenshots of key slides and send them in parallel to you
👉 Screenshots also work for online whiteboards: Then you know at least what the outcome of the discussion was.
👉 Send your input via chat/sms/email to a colleague and ask them to post it during the session on the whiteboard.
👉Some online collaboration tools allow for online recording of your session - if drop-outs / technical issues are likely, agree on recording the session. It is especially useful for townhall meetings, discussion which include important decisions, webinars.
👉Align on limiting the size of presentations in order to avoid long build-up times during web sessions: No fancy photos, graphics – simple but functional should be sufficient in these times.
👉Sometimes the good old phone conference may also be fine.
Even if you have enough space and encounter no technical issues it may be difficult to stay motivated all the time.
👉Leave your home office space not only for lunch but also for a cup of coffee / tea a chat with your family staying at home. Don’t forget to step on your balcony / into your garden / in front of your door to get some fresh air.
👉Try to fit into your day whatever relaxes you – a run in the morning, calling a friend, check-into social media, reading a few pages in a book, journaling, yoga etc.
👉If you are not alone at home, make sure that housekeeping tasks are distributed fairly (e.g. not always the same person taking care of lunch, the dishes etc.).
👉Be honest to your boss and colleagues – an endless stream of online meetings does not provide anyone the chance to actually do the work discussed in such meetings. Indicate clearly what is doable and what needs to improve jointly with your team.
👉Most important: Don’t try to be perfect! These are challenging times, no one should expect to be the perfect cook, parent, partner and employee or boss. Cut yourself slack when ordering meals by your local restaurant or having a correct but maybe not perfectly looking presentation.
I hope these tips may help you to cope with daily challenges we face. You can also download these tips as a pdf.
Christian Botta has summarized more tips and provides additional material here