Once upon a time, remote work was considered more of a perk than a norm. In the last few weeks, this has changed though – remote work is the norm whereas leaving the house feels like a perk. During a time where the only constant seems to be change, social distancing has changed the way we work and turned remote work into another constant: remotely. That much is for sure.
Even though it’s easy to find things to complain about in our current situation – whatever that is for you – remote work doesn’t need to be one of them. Over the past few years, people have started working remotely more and more. In 2017, 43% of people spent at least some time during their professional efforts away from the office. Based on the percentage of people living in a city and working remotely in 2018, some cities had up to 10% of the local population working remotely.
So if more and more people are remote, it’s likely we’re seeing the pitfalls of this type of work, right? There are negative sides to remote work, just as many as there are positive sides, so it’s important to touch on those and take a look at how you can continue to do your job effectively while working away from the office.
Another important thing to keep in mind during this time is that productivity doesn’t need to be at an all-time high. COVID-19 seems to have yielded an increase in toxic positivity where even though the only constant is change, we need to be doing more than ever to combat it. With that being said, work is a good way to add a constant — something you were familiar with before the pandemic changed our working arrangements and environments. Your coworkers provide support because this is something no one has been through before, so we’re all navigating murky waters together.
Keep up the good work with these next few things in mind.
Take breaks throughout the day.
Getting “rooted” is easier than forcing yourself to organize your time, plan your work, and take breaks. If you only could work on the press release for another 30 minutes, you’ll be finished. If only. Staying there and continuing to push yourself doesn’t make for more effective work; in fact, it diminishes the quality of your work.
Take breaks throughout the day. If you need to, go take a walk and get some fresh air. Set a timer for your break or for your “sprint” of productivity if that’s how you choose to organize your time.
Turn off the laptop.
There has to be a time of day when you turn off the work computer and walk away from it. Even if you have things you need to complete later in the evening, there needs to be a time when notifications can be ignored or at the very least, you can take your time in responding to them so you can get things done like making dinner or spending time with the family.
If there’s no clear “closing time”, consider reaching out to a manager or someone within operations to help clarify that. It’s important to a work-life balance.
Manage your coworker relationships.
One of the things many Americans are experiencing for the first time (if they didn’t already work remotely at least sometimes) is a new sense of loneliness. They miss their coworkers.
Though who you shelter in place with depends on where you’re at in life, you probably aren’t sheltering in place with one of your coworkers. However, every day you head into the office you probably have a coworker you chat with about coffee, gossip about TV shows or pop culture tidbits together, and other relationships that benefit your emotional needs. Right now, those needs are being met by your own efforts or by a spouse — someone most people don’t mind a break from when they go to work.
Manage your relationships with your coworkers by checking in. Schedule some face-to-face time on one of the many video conferencing platforms like Zoom or House Party. Have a morning drink date from your own at-home coffee shop. 70% of people who work remotely from this survey said their relationships with their coworkers were just as important to them as their job.
Keep that in mind when you’re interacting with your coworkers via messaging during the workday. We’ll all be more productive by being supportive of one another.