We've written a lot about how to manage the move to a remote business environment and manage remote staff. What about working remotely for the inexperienced? Working from home might sound like a dream come true to some—and their worst nightmare to others. Your employees that thrive in a more structured environment may suddenly find themselves overwhelmed.
With the kids out of school (for possibly the rest of the year), spouses, roommates, and your employees are now dealing with sharing their living space with each other—and their jobs. Alternatively, if you happen to be home alone, you now have to cope with extra isolation in this time of social distancing. Either way, things have changed—and working from home isn't the same as it used to be for those of us who were seasoned remote workers.
As someone with multiple online degrees who has created success remotely, I'd like to share some of the things that I think help me to be a successful remote employee.
Make It Official
I have a fully functional, work-from-home office set up right now—complete with a docking station, ring light, multiple monitors, high-def webcam, proper office chair, and even a professional backdrop that transforms a plain wall into a virtual office when I am on video calls with coworkers and clients.
This little office was created in a room with a door that keeps the sound out. When I'm in this space, it feels like going to work because that is all I do here. When my workday is over, if I want to use my laptop, I bring it with me away from this space. A dedicated space helps me to get in the work frame of mind: I am not at home during this time, I am in my office, and thus works becomes easier.
Create and Keep a Schedule
Just as my workday was 8-5 when I went to the office, so are my virtual working hours. During this time—aside from lunch—I am at my desk dressed for the workday and available to my team. I tackle my workload in the same pattern every day, so I have a habit that keeps me productive. I log in, check for fires in my email, check my project management system, and prioritize my daily tasks—then I get to work. I find it important to revisit what I started earlier after lunch to reprioritize my afternoon, check emails again, and continue. At the end of the day, I check for what is on the agenda tomorrow so I am prepared and log off.
One of the real dangers no one seems to talk about when it comes to working from home is the tendency to let the workday bleed over and out of working hours. All employees, business owners, and managers need rest. If you're "on" 24/7, you lose effectiveness. Taking the time to work productively during your designated working hours is far better than always working but losing your effectiveness to burnout.
We've all told a lot of jokes about how working from home means you don't need to wear pants. I am going to take an unpopular stance and disagree. Wear those pants—and not pajama ones either. Continue to dress how you would when going into the office. It'll help you feel more put together and confident. Plus, there is the very real chance that at least once you'll forget your camera and volume are on during a conference call. Don't become the internet's next best meme.
Maintain Your Work Relationships
This might be the most important one: Don't let the relationships you cultivated at work lapse. It is so easy, especially right now, to internalize what is going on in the world. Take some time to reach out to your coworkers. Check in on them, have a short chat here and there. Human beings are social creatures, and property management is a people business. Don't let those social skills rust—we're going to need them soon enough!
Don't Forget to Move
When you don't have a commute or a walk from the back of the parking lot to the office, it is easy to become more sedentary—fast. Set yourself a reminder to get up and stretch every so often and get the blood flowing or do a five-minute yoga video in the AM and PM. Think of all the times per day you might get up to go ask a coworker a question. If you're more tired when working remotely, chances are it is a lack of movement that is partially to blame.
I hope you all stay healthy and find remote prosperity! If you'd like to dive a little deeper into setting your team up for remote success, we wrote a handbook for just that based on our collective experience in creating a company with a remote team. You can download it for free, no strings attached.