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Five top tips for working remotely

As we all adjust to living with the day-to-day impact of Covid-19, professionally we face a new reality where working remotely could be the norm for the foreseeable future. For some, working remotely is not new, but for others it could be entirely uncharted territory– and one they have suddenly been thrust into without much warning.

In this blog, Brian, senior learning and development coordinator shares his 5 top tips for working remotely. Read the blog.

1.      Over-communicate

Communication is the cornerstone of any successful endeavour but when it comes to remote working, over-communicating is the aim of the game. You don’t have colleagues sitting at the next desk over, and you’re not in and out of the meeting room, or the kitchen for a cuppa. You lose the opportunity to have quick catch-ups, discussions and progress updates. You also lose the opportunity to socialise and find a bit of fun and humour in the day. Don’t be afraid to over-communicate via email, phone (better) or, even better…

2.      Take advantage of technology

Technology has come so far allowing for easy communication and collaborative working. Microsoft Teams, Sharepoint, Skype for Business, Zoom, Yammer, Jive, Facebook Workplace to name but a few online platforms. As well as giving you and your team opportunities to communicate, they give you tools to carry on and collaborate on projects from a distance.

AFS has been holding regular Zoom coffee breaks to let us all catch up, see how everyone is doing, and add a little humour to the mix. Fun and uplifting for all.

3.      Work/Life Balance still matters

There’s a temptation when you’re not getting up early and commuting to work, to do more. “I’ll just get a wee extra hour in”, or work on through lunch and breaks. Cut-off is even more important when working remotely. So make a point of taking regular breaks and your lunch break. Go for a walk – if you’re a dog owner like me, that won’t really be optional! If you have kids who are off school, stop and take a 10 minute break to play a quick game with them. Most importantly, log off when it’s time to log off!

4.      Discover your working style and environment

Think about your preferred working style. Are you more productive in the morning? If so is an early start and early finish the way for you? Or do you need your beauty sleep and is having a mid-morning or afternoon start the best way to go? Do you like a bit of white noise in the background or do you need peace and quiet? With the schools closed, are evenings going to be better for you? Can you get outside to work? (The suns out as I write this). Are you fortunate enough to have a summer house you can retreat to?

One of the joys of remote working is that you have the flexibility to work your best hours.

5.      For managers particularly, focus on outputs not hours

As colleagues adapt to this new way of working, potentially with their children being out of schools and caring for family members, the reality of doing a set 9am to 5pm fades rapidly. So focus less on: “did you do your 36 hours this week?” and start to consider the outputs that are feasible for the individual within a week. So the conversation becomes: “I’d like to see x, y and z finished for Friday.”

Even if you take Coronavirus out of the equation, this is a much more empowering way to work with staff and I’ve seen numerous quotes and blogs for successful leaders and organisations who have a mantra of: “I’m not really concerned where you work or the hours you do, as long as the job gets done.”

This goes back to the point about communication. Discuss and set really clear goals and expectations with your staff.