As millions adjust to working from home amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, it can be a challenge to stay productive, stay sane and stay connected with your colleagues and clients. But at Horizontal Digital, many of our team members have been working remote for years.
It’s about more than a comfortable chair and consistent internet access—an effective work-from-home strategy enables you to manage your time wisely, maintain a healthy work-life balance and build a cohesive culture within your team. To help you settle into an effective rhythm from your home base, here’s a list of strategic pro-tips from our team.
Keep track of time – Roscoe Dixon
Many people consider switching to remote work but fear they’ll lose track of focus and prioritization due to an increased number of distractions. But in my experience, the opposite is true—I’m able to spend my time more efficiently without ad hoc meetings in the hallways and impromptu chats with colleagues at my desk.
On the flip side, these in-person interactions break up your daily routine and help you reduce burnout. They give you a chance to check the clock and take short mental breaks. As you adjust to working from home, here are some ways I keep track of time and take care of myself throughout the day:
- Block off time: Update your schedule with heads down time and personal time (transparency is key) and share your calendars with your colleagues.
- Fill up your water bottle with less water: Don’t forget to stretch your legs and take mental breaks. Filling up your water bottle halfway means you’ll have to step away from your desk every so often to refill and recharge.
- Give your eyes a break throughout the day: Make sure your workspace is well-lit and reduce eyestrain by shifting your focus from monitors to textbooks and notebooks. Eye fatigue can derail your productivity and blur your vision.
- Change your posture: Hunching over your laptop for long hours is a recipe for neck and back pain. Be sure to stand up and walk around at regular intervals. Even better—use a standing desk or stand at a counter and work.
Regardless of location or network, the Salesforce platform enables work from home by making all data accessible. But finding the right work-life balance can still be a challenge. But honoring your time commitments to your organization helps you maintain the right focus on your personal relationships. Before and after the workday, be sure to unplug and spend quality time with your family.
Build time for a “commute” – Ashley Dodge
One of the perceived advantages of working from home is the commuting time you save. For me, this totals nearly two hours per day. But after nearly eight years of remote work, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that you need to build a commute into your day.
The commute to and from an office is a natural buffer—the space between work life and home life. It’s a chance to mentally process meetings that didn’t go quite right and sort through tomorrow’s priorities. It’s a chance to catch a few minutes of quiet time between making spreadsheets and making dinner. When I started working from home, my workdays ran a little longer. And instead of being fully present with family or unwinding with a book before bed, work-related thoughts would creep into my mind at all hours.
Adding a “commute” to my day has completely changed the way I tackle my work and spend my evenings at home. For me, it’s an early morning workout followed by 15-20 minutes to enjoy breakfast over a short daily read and a quick journal entry. At the end of the day, it’s a walk outside, a bit of gardening or a phone call with a friend from a comfortable chair that soaks up the evening sun. However, this “commute” looks different for everyone. Try it out—even 10-15 minutes can make a huge difference.
Follow calendar and messaging basics – Mark Koenig
When you, your colleagues and your clients aren’t in the same place, managing time becomes everyone’s responsibility. To make timely decisions and keep projects moving, you need to be available—and the best way to communicate your schedule is through your calendar. Even after 10 years of remote work, I find myself revisiting and recommitting to calendar basics to keep my productivity as high as possible.
If you’re setting up a meeting, always check calendars to see if your colleague or client is available. This sounds like common sense, but it’s easy to overlook in the midst of a busy day. Scheduling over another meeting essentially tells someone that your time is more important than their previous commitment.
Schedules are always changing, so if you are invited to a meeting, be sure to respond promptly. Few things are more deflating than waiting on a web conference line while the organizer tracks down the participants who didn’t respond, only to discover that a key person can’t make it. Everyone loses productivity.
For messaging apps like Slack or Teams, be sure to set your status to Do Not Disturb if you don’t want to be interrupted—and respect the status of others. You don’t want a silly message to your colleague to appear on screen in the middle of their client presentation. Remember, a Slack exchange is not a meeting. But it can easily serve as a point of interruption that pulls attention away from another person or meeting. So if your slack exchange runs on for more than five minutes, it’s probably a better use of your time to jump on a call or book an in-person meeting.
Set up a dedicated workspace – Jeremy Bunch
To be productive at home, setting up a designated workspace is a critical step. This space can be anywhere—a home office, a desk in the corner of your bedroom, a table in your kids’ playroom, etc. Here are a few benefits of setting up a dedicated workspace:
- It rejuvenates you: Having a designated space gives you the ability to step away from your work. Mentally, it’s more difficult to take a break if you’ve been working from every room in your house.
- It helps you keep a balance: When I started working from home, I felt like I had to be available 100% of the time. Even stepping away for lunch gave me anxiety. But it’s totally OK if you need a break—and leaving your workspace is a healthy way to recharge.
- It prevents distractions: I need a controlled environment where I have absolute focus. When I enter my dedicated space, my family knows not to distract me. This is a simple way of establishing a work zone that everyone knows and respects (for the most part).
- It lets you shut off work: When work is over, leave your computer in your designated space and walk away. If you work all over the place, it’s easy to let your work-life bleed into your personal life—including evenings and weekends.
Perfect your virtual engagements – Raju Shringari
- Start your day off right: Greet the people you usually interact with throughout the day.
- Show up and make your presence known: Speak up during your meetings so everyone knows you’re on the call. Be sure to jump in and voice your thoughts on areas you have knowledge in. At the close of a meeting, sign off with a simple, “Thanks, everyone. Bye!”
- Show your face: If possible, turn on your camera and show your face to connect better with your colleagues. Be attentive and provide a brief description of things you understand. If something doesn’t add up, ask for further clarification. Clearly and concisely state next steps and actions you or others need to take.
Account for family in the background – Kate Higgins
Many Salesforce partners allow a large percentage of their delivery teams to work remotely. This means there’s a chance that your kids may pop into your conference calls unexpectedly. So if the kids are knocking at your door, just remember to keep calm and carry on like this professor during a live BBC interview.
Practice the art of showing up – Kevin See
- During virtual meetings, keep your phone nearby to backchannel and collaborate with other attendees: This is a great way to streamline the conversation, increase effectiveness and provide levity. See also: Giphy
- Keep a tidy virtual workspace: Before you share your screen, close your tabs and minimize personal on-screen items. No one wants to see the car you’re looking at on Facebook marketplace…or worse.
- Live by the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would want to be treated. Working remotely does not erase our moral responsibility. A digital work culture can (and should) encourage ethical behavior.