Remote work is no longer a temporary measure. In fact, one survey of over 200,000 workers found that 89% planned to continue to do so even after the pandemic.
Employees have come to embrace remote work because of the number of benefits it provides. Workers have more flexibility to accomplish daily tasks, and remote work saves the time and costs of commuting. Employees can obtain lucrative city jobs from anywhere and increase their productivity while enjoying quality time outside the office.
While remote work has many benefits, it does come with unique challenges compared with in-office work. Interpersonal relationships and healthy work-life boundaries, in particular, can be tricky to manage when working outside of an office building. However, the right tools and approaches to communication will help remote workers overcome these challenges and thrive working from anywhere.
Here are our top tips for virtual work to simplify tasks, improve communication, and enhance productivity:
#1: Maintain Regular Hours and Boundaries
While remote work helps many workers better manage their lives, it does run the risk of blurring work and personal time. Email is no longer locked away at the office when you’re at home, and all the software and tools for your job remain in the next room. It’s no surprise, then, that 49% of employers believe that they face a culture of overworking.
Set regular hours to combat this trend. By grouping meetings and setting expectations when others can reach you, you’ll have uninterrupted focus time for work and can mute notifications during personal time.
#2: Keep Track of Work Time
Successful work needs a balance of collaborative and focused tasks. Too much time spent on collaboration reduces the concentration necessary for effective independent work. One study from Michigan State University found that even a three-second interruption to check email or check a notification doubled a person’s error rate. When the interruption was 4.5 seconds, the error rate tripled.
Keep track of how much time you spend collaborating and on solo work. It will help you create a boundary between deep concentration and time spent on communication apps.
#3: Reach Out to Team Members
One of the main downsides of remote work is that it hinders developing relationships with team members. Communication is typically reserved for work matters, which does not help build rapport and relationships with coworkers. As a result, nearly 65% of employees reported feeling disconnected from coworkers with the rise of remote work.
Interpersonal relationships at work are a vital part of retention and workplace happiness. One survey found that two-thirds of the employees who reported they had between 6-25 workplace friends stated that they loved their company. However, less than a quarter of employees with no workplace friends said they loved their work.
Remote work requires actively engaging with coworkers to overcome this deficit. Attend non-work events, such as Zoom Happy Hours, do informal check-ins with coworkers, and go to virtual engagement events.
#4: Streamline Information
Although software makes work more accessible, information gets fragmented when strung across multiple online tools. Searching across various platforms to find what you need results in wasted time and inefficiency.
Streamline your various tools with integrations and interoperability to centralize your information onto one platform. Suppose you have files and documents stored across Google Drive, OneDrive, and DropBox. In that case, you can create one centralized repository that has links to all the documents stored on the different platforms. Having a single chat communication tool also ensures that all file sharing will happen in one place.
#5: Be Mindful of Remote Etiquette
Remote work has a different set of etiquette than in-office. For example, muting your microphone when not speaking is encouraged to limit background noise. Keeping coworkers’ time zones and quiet hours in mind also helps enforce healthy boundaries. Be mindful of how you engage with others and try to be respectful of their remote work situations.
#6: Regularly Conduct Retrospectives
Retrospective meetings arose as a part of agile project management when teams met after every sprint to analyze what happened and what could be improved. However, retrospectives are valuable for any project, no matter the department. Schedule a weekly retrospective with team members to assess how you collaborated that week. Find bottlenecks to collaboration and take anonymized surveys to give feedback.
#7: Leverage Recognition Tools
A job well done should be recognized and rewarded for a healthy work culture. In the world of remote work, recognition tools allow you to show your appreciation for your coworkers in real-time. Tools such as Bonusly, Kudos, and TapMyBack encourage team member recognition so that everyone’s efforts are highlighted. Plus, these tools integrate with your current collaboration software, so you can clearly associate the work with the credit received.
#8: Use Visuals
With email and chat, remote work often loses the visual component of face-to-face conversations and meetings. Use visual elements to make the information easy to remember and encourage collaboration whenever you can. For example, digital whiteboards allow dispersed teams to log in at various times to write their ideas.
In-office settings often discourage email and chat messaging when simple face-to-face communication is possible. However, remote workers need this over-communication to ensure everyone is on the same page. Plus, a chat message, document comment, or thumbs-up emoji helps strengthen team bonds and improves interpersonal relationships.
Remote work comes with its own opportunities, challenges, rules, and etiquette. However, learning these rules and applying them to your work will help enhance productivity, innovation, and interpersonal relationships. Contact us to learn more about how to help your workers thrive in a remote work environment.
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