Remote Control - How to Stay Connected and Get Work Done from Home
In light of the “shelter in place” directive from Governor Walz, Creatis has instructed all of our employees to work from home to help keep our team and others safer during this serious situation. Many of us have already been working remotely for the past few weeks. The good news? Our clients continue to function, just in a different way.
Practicing social distancing is the right thing to do to keep our communities safer and flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections here in the Twin Cities. And it looks like we’ll be self-isolating for a while longer. But social distancing can also usher in feelings of isolation, confusion and fear over what the future holds. I’m here to tell you that it’s ok to make room for those feelings and not judge yourself if they arise.
So many (including me) are experiencing the same pendulum of emotions swinging back and forth from discouragement to optimism and everything in between. It’s important to be aware that many of those negative emotions are connected to things you and I cannot control. Let’s focus on what we can control, including our work output. Now more than ever, we need to bring our professional best to all that we do. New challenges arise, and it’s our job to meet them. That's a significant part of the Creatis Be Excellent core value, which provides a strong compass for me in these times.
I feel very blessed to be in a position where I can function away from the
office if needed while continuing to support Creatis and our client H.B. Fuller
through content development.
As a content writer and “capital I” introvert, you might think working remotely would be the dream for me but let me tell you: it isn’t perfect. It’s required logistical and mental adjustments. I can no longer jet over to my supervisor’s office to approve a draft of content or drop by a designer’s desk to quickly review a digital graphic. Moving things from the “To Do” list to the “Done” pile is a slightly different process. Not to mention the ever-present temptation of snacking AND adjusting to the disturbances from my two new co-workers, who also happen to be cats. (Pictured: My new co-workers, Clue, above, and Petunia, below.)
Seth's 5 Tips for Getting Work Done at Home
Even after getting settled in your new remote workspace, getting things done at home requires a strategy. Now is the time to reevaluate priorities, condense asks into "need to know" information, and do some extra planning. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far, and maybe they will help you if you’re working remotely in the weeks to come.
- Your Workspace is KEY to Productivity
- Carve some physical and mental space out in your home. Set-up a dedicated area and try to keep it organized. Put on noise cancelling headphones or put in some earplugs if you know there will be activity in your home throughout the day. Chose the best chair for your posture. Try to keep your workspace relatively tidy and if possible, laundry-free. (I say this as a guy with two sweatshirts draped over the back of the chair I’m sitting in right now)
- Put on Your "Work" Pants
- Contrary to the “sweatpants only” work-from-home enthusiasts, I truly can’t get into work mode unless I’ve dressed in a functional and presentable way – even if I know I won’t be video conferencing with anyone on that particular day. Put your pants on, maybe a nice sweater, or at least a shirt without holes in it and get to work. It can help you stay focused, it does for me.
- Keep to a Schedule
- Try to develop a new routine and stick to it — map out this routine on your e-calendar or on a sheet of paper. It helps me to visualize what I want to get done. Take little breaks to clear your head and then get back into it. My routine: make coffee & oatmeal, sit down to check emails, then get to crossing off smaller to-dos... I like to work my way up to the bigger stuff, depending on my priorities that day. Set a specific time of day when you're going to stop answering emails and working, too. Otherwise the distinction between work and home life may bleed together in ways that aren't helpful.
- Think Ahead
- If you’re going over tasks and to-dos with your team or supervisor – whether via email or conference call – it’s important to think ahead. Take 5 minutes to consider what questions you have a chance to ask now that you might not later. This will seriously maximize efficiency in communication and eliminate all those extra follow-up emails.
- Skype or Zoom OVER Phone Calls
- Video meetings or conferences can help you stay connected to your team. Seeing the faces of your teammates can reenergize you and inspire you to keep going for the good of the team, even while you’re physically separate from each other. We’re all in this together, after all.