Apr 29, 2020 Design + Creative

Eight Essential Tips for Extended Remote Work

By now, you’ve likely made the basic adjustments to working remotely: You’ve got the essential software installed, you’re starting to understand the point of Slack, and you can even meme yourself with Zoom backgrounds.

The long haul can still be a challenge with all the most clever tools in place, though.

A few years ago, the bulk of our teams at Media Temple shifted to remote work. And as a distributed workforce, we’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. So, we reached out to a few of our seasoned front-line experts to get you the most useful advice on keeping productive and staying sane when working from home for long stretches.

 

Do the Work of Socializing

– from Katie, Customer Success

When I first started working from home, I had a note on my desk to remind myself to say good morning to people on my team. It’s important to remember social niceties are still important for your mental health and just because you’re remote doesn’t mean they should be optimized out of existence. I have lunch calls with a few friends who also work from home, and I have private group chats with work friends where we share music and pet pics and talk about our days.

 

Create a Productive Workspace

– from Patrick, Customer Support

Avoid using the same location for work that you normally use to unwind, like your couch. Keep spaces separate, so you don’t feel trapped. Ensure you can move in and out of that workspace, without breaking it down or setting it up for each shift, and keep it clear of clutter. And of course, keep in mind you’re going to be sitting for awhile: Get a comfortable chair.

 

Include Kids, So They Don’t Overwhelm You

– from Angie, Agency Partnerships

I set up my son’s dedicated school area within arm’s reach of me. I make sure he’s ready to do his work while I do mine. This makes him feel included while focusing on what he’s learning. This also minimizes tantrums when I do need to jump on a call. Because he’s at the age when he doesn’t like sharing my attention with anything or anyone.

When we take a break to get some fresh air, he gets to ride his scooter. Walks don’t allow him to exert enough of that built-up energy in 15 minutes, so a scooter works best for us.

 

Keep Your Boss in the Loop

– from Cynthia, Customer Experience

Working from home can induce some anxiety for your boss because they have no idea what you’re up to. To minimize disruptions to your normal work flow, or to minimize the feeling of being micromanaged, create a weekly or daily progress report. My team summarizes our activity for the week in three categories: Progress, Planning, Problems. This gives visibility into what’s going on, and provides opportunity to step in and help with problems. 

 

Find Time for Your Health

– from Katie, Customer Success

I get out my foam roller once a day for a song or two’s worth of stretching to break the monotony of sitting. I also do basic stretches during meetings where I will only be listening rather than participating to keep from getting too desk-locked. I usually spend up to half of my lunch break meditating, a habit that helps me come back to work refreshed on a normal day and dissipate any anxiety or stress that may have built up over the morning on a difficult day. 

 

Stick to a To-Do List

– from Cynthia, Customer Experience

I like to create a daily to-do list using colorful index cards. I know everyone in tech mentions that analog notes are dead, but I love them! There’s joy and the feeling of accomplishment in throwing out your index card once you’ve completed your tasks at the end of your day (or week).

 

Reserve Time to Focus

– from Angie, Agency Partnerships

Schedule yourself with “tentative” meetings for times when you want to work on particular projects. By doing this, I ensure colleagues will verify availability with me before adding anything to my calendar. This comes in handy if I’m on a deadline that’s fast approaching and need to ensure the day doesn’t escape from me.

 

Hang on to the Morning Routine

– from Patrick, Customer Support

Difficult but essential: Avoid the temptation to set your alarm for one minute before your shift. I make sure I’m fully awake and ready for the day. And while PJs are comfy, I feel more focused on working when I’m dressed as if I were meeting people in person. Taking breaks away from the computer also is essential: Go on a walk, water the garden, give your eyes a rest from the screen life.

 

What advice would you give for working remotely? Share your tips and experiences with us on Twitter.

 

About the Author Mike Martens is a writer and photographer who makes words happen for Media Temple’s UX and Creative teams. Over the past decade, he’s crafted copy across every medium for a laundry list of iconic brands. Meanwhile, his photographic pursuits have taken him from documenting The Moth storytellers to creating a $25,000 digital Holga camera. More by this Author