6 Tips to Handle Long-Term Remote Work
Produced by Allied Solutions | April 15, 2020
Many of us are closing out nearly a month of remote work and weeks of state-mandated ‘shelter in place’ orders. COVID-19 continues to impact work routines as remote work or social isolation measures were enacted to help fulfill federal and state recommendations to slow the spread of disease. Globally and nationally, shelter in place mandates are being enacted, extended, or tightened.
Most U.S. states have schools temporarily closed, migrated to an e-learning environment, or closed for the duration of the school year. Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s estimated 30% of the U.S. workforce has moved to telework.
Many of us are working remotely long-term for the first time and feeling productive can be hard to achieve day after day. As we continue to settle into what could easily be several more weeks of remote work, consider these tips to boost your daily productivity.
Tip #1: Set a workspace
Set a workspace both physically and mentally. This means devoting an actual space to work in, as well as hours you are ‘in’ the office to work. When home, it’s harder to leave work at work when there’s no separation of space. For the physical location, designate a room, table, chair, or workspace that is specifically for work. If your home doesn’t have a good home office set-up, pick several locations that allow you to move around throughout the day. At the end of the day, make sure you physically put your computer away, shut the door, or find some other way to end your work day. If you’re home with others it’s important to communicate your schedule and what it means to ‘be at work.’ Distractions are inevitable but by setting some boundaries you can still create a workspace that helps drive productivity while ‘clocked in.’
Tip #2: Utilize technology to stay connected
Video, chat features, tele-conferencing, and digital collaboration tools are technologies that are finding a sharp rise in popularity. When working remote finding connection with colleagues is an important piece of staying focused and connected to your work and team. Giving regular updates and connecting to clarify questions, goals, and outcomes can help move projects forward in a collaborative and productive manner. Additionally, don’t forget to ‘chat’ and check-in with your teammates and coworkers. Just as if you’re in the office, having a social outlet can help improve focus.
Tip #3: Think about your work style
Facing the stress of this pandemic, it’s easy to feel frazzled and reactive, rather than proactive. Especially, as businesses struggle to adapt to a rapidly changing economic environment. We all have different work processes and styles, but sometimes in a remote home setting, we may face lack of motivation or lost productivity. Before sitting down to start your work day, take a few minutes to be intentional and plan for how you will utilize your ‘at-work’ time. That may mean setting daily or weekly goals, writing down a to-do list, or setting priorities within your workload. Your work style may also dictate how you tackle these goals. Maybe you try to find long stretches of time to really dig in and focus, maybe you set 30 or 60 minute sprints to tackle your to-do list between emails and other necessary tasks.
Tip #4: Don't just take breaks, schedule them
It seems crazy to say, but sometimes at home we work even more than we do in the office. Without transitions between meetings or casual conversations with coworkers, it can be very easy to sit and stare at a screen all day without taking a break despite your best intentions. While feelings of productivity can rise and fall, the feeling of being burnt out can be real in an isolated home environment. Breaks could include a mid-day work out, physically taking a break from your work space, going outside for some fresh air, or calling up a friend or coworker for a brief chat. Especially for those of us also juggling kids at home, sharing workspaces with a partner, roommate, or spouse, the daily work environment is a lot different and taking a scheduled break can help navigate both home and work priorities.
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Tip #5: Speak up and overcommunicate
A remote set-up can feel like you’re in a work vacuum. You may feel out of the loop on certain communications, team projects, or stuck on your own task list. It’s important to be unafraid to speak up and reach out when you’re feeling unsure or uncertain on next steps. Communication between your manager and team may need to be a bit different in order to adapt to the current situation. Speak-up and explicitly ask for regular feedback—what does your team need, what does your manager need, what do they need from you? This also means asking for help when you need it.
Tip #6: Make a plan for the day
To set a plan, assess your meeting schedule and coordinate with your spouse or roommate as needed. This may mean making sure you have some privacy for a room, or coordinate a childcare situation. From there, prioritize your workload and coordinate with your manager as necessary. Perhaps, most importantly, allow for some flexibility. This current pandemic situation is fluid and ever-changing. Personal distractions, work emergencies, and unforeseen interruptions can happen, and that’s okay.
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With many of us not currently working in a regular work environment finding a set routine can be immensely difficult, which can make our productivity seem low or feel unmotivated. As we continue to stay at home, being plan-full and intentional with our time both at and away from work can help establish a rhythm of work and life in a home setting.
These are unprecedented times and we are all figuring out a new, temporary normal to maintain some level of productivity in our day to day. Things are different as we manage varying equipment, accessibility, distractions, people, and family needs. Dedicating a workspace, focusing energy, planning ahead best you can, and staying social and communicative in creative ways can help you cope with the new normal of working remote.
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About Allied Solutions
Allied Solutions, LLC is one of the largest providers of insurance, lending, and marketing products to financial institutions in the US. Allied Solutions uses technology based products and services customized to meet the needs of 4,000 clients along with a portfolio of innovative products and services from a wide variety of providers. Allied Solutions maintains over 15 regional offices and service centers around the country and is a subsidiary of Securian Financial Group, Inc. Allied Solutions has tools and resources that can help you keep an eye on the potential areas of impact, protect against collateral losses, and stay on top of any new events, bulletins, and regulations as they happen.