This page lists the tips and suggested practices that can help anyone who is adapting to working remotely. These tips were published in the Daily Mammoth. As an archive, this list can be a resource for anyone wanting ideas to enhance their work at home success.
The tips are printed in the sequence they were published, starting with simple and basic ideas and progressing to more nuanced practices as people become more comfortable with the new working arrangements.
This content is available for download as a Word document if you would like to print or share it with your colleagues or team.
The OHR Learning and Development staff are available through email and Zoom meetings if you would like additional support or guidance on how to work effectively. Please reach out to us with questions or suggestions.
Tips for Working Remotely
Keep your morning routine and create a dedicated workspace.
It’s important to establish your morning routine as you usually would if you were commuting into the office, since it signals to your brain that it’s time to work. If possible, create a designated work space; ideally, one where you can close the door to have some privacy -- this signals to everyone that you are working. If that’s not an option, map out a specific area where you can focus.
Set expectations and clarify goals.
As you adjust to the new circumstances, communicate with your supervisor. Discuss goals for the coming week based on what you think will work, and share expectations with each other about what you can accomplish. The first week may be difficult since there will be more unknowns and uncertainty. Negotiate a plan that works for both of you.
Create separate spaces.
Create different spaces for relaxation, work, creative thinking, playing/exercise, and sleeping. Even if you live in a studio apartment, “separate” the space by setting up different “stations.” Try things like certain music, smells, or physical surfaces (chair, yoga mat, rug, couch, bed) in each space. Establishing a physical “space” can help you stay present and focused mentally when your routines are in flux.
Take time to care for yourself each day.
Develop a self-care routine that starts immediately when you wake up. If you showered every day before going to work, shower every day before going out to your work “space” to start the day. Routines (or, rituals) are primers to get your body and brain moving in a direction you can control. These self-care routines can be simple and short, or longer as you need them to be. Just make sure to repeat them.
Establish new rules of engagement.
On campus, hallway conversations and informal face-to-face meetings might have been the norm. Now new ways to communicate are needed. While technology can help, teams need to establish agreements and expectations about responsiveness. What might have been taken for granted in the office may create challenges at home, especially for parents and caregivers. Take time early on to establish expectations for how and when people are expected to respond so as to avoid any misunderstandings.
Focus on habits.
Working remotely means developing a set of new habits. Research on habits demonstrates a simple two-part formula: consistent mapping and repetition. When you perform a behavior repeatedly, you will ultimately be able to remember what you are supposed to do rather than having to think about it. Focus on creating consistency in your work routine at home, though it may be different from work. Creating a schedule for you and for those around you helps everyone predict how the day is going to go.
- Own your fails and your successes!
As you adjust to your remote environment, offer yourself grace and self-compassion. You are learning new skills, creating new habits, developing new routines. Accept the messes and the lack of boundaries. Also notice and recognize when you can tune out the distractions, can get your work done, can create strong connections with your coworkers. Notice what helps you optimize and manage your work environment (the best you can), and make it work for you.
- Challenge assumed constraints.
When facing large changes, often people can feel like they have lost control of the situation. Regaining a sense of control is an important step in adapting to change. Feel like your home “work space” isn’t supporting you to do good work? Reimagine it, add some decorations, rearrange the furniture, move some decorations. Add a photo or illustration that inspires you. Challenging your assumptions allows you to find options, and having choices brings back a sense of control.
- Pay attention to your concerns and share them with your supervisor.
Change often creates uncertainty and ambiguity. These feelings can be exacerbated by working remotely. If you are experiencing any concerns or uncertainty, ask yourself what unanswered questions you might have, what information you need, what support might be lacking. After doing this reflection, share these ideas and questions with your supervisor, and discuss how the two of you can work together to find solutions and answers that work for both of you.
- Celebrate your wins.
When you’re working on your own, staying motivated can be difficult, especially when distractions abound. One smart way to maintain momentum is to acknowledge what you have accomplished each day, rather than fixating on what you still need to do. Consider keeping a journal where you check off items on your to-do list. A daily reminder of what you finished helps create a virtuous cycle going forward.
- Help yourself by helping others.
If you find yourself feeling stuck, feeling overwhelmed, or “wishing things were different,” you’re expending time and energy in an unproductive way. Shift your focus and ask yourself: who can I help? A coworker, friend, family member - reach out and see how you can offer them assistance. Helping others is one of the best ways to shift and lift your mood. And don’t forget to help yourself – take a break, do something relaxing, be kind to yourself by extending some self-compassion as well.
- Know your glimmers
Knowing your glimmers is knowing what nourishes your nervous system and helps you feel calm, relaxed and brings a smile to your face. Throughout your day, notice what makes you smile, what makes you feel safe and take in those moments consciously. Simmer those moments and stay with the feelings of them longer as this nourishes your nervous system. You can intentionally bring glimmers into your day to help take you out of the threat zone and into the creative/learning zone.
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