Working Remotely? Set Yourself Up for Success.

Working Remotely? Set Yourself Up for Success.

The modern workplace includes flexible schedules, remote work offices, and the latest team collaboration technology.  Email, video conferencing, shared calendars, team spaces in the cloud, and group chats are just a few of the tools that make working remotely possible. It really can be a dream job; to work from home in your pajamas and create your own schedule. However, just like Spiderman had to be told, “with great power comes great responsibility”, the same goes for remote workers; okay maybe not the exact same, but you get the idea.  When working remotely, you are the in charge of your time and your task list. This work independence can present new challenges.

Our entire PetroValues team works remotely and collaborates on tasks from all over the world. We asked the team how they set themselves up for success, and here is what they said…

Manage Your Time

Time management was the most common challenge of working remotely mentioned by the team. This is also the most critical skill to develop to work effectively. When it is not required to physically arrive and leave an office, it can be a struggle establishing a routine and a work-life balance.  Think about two things when it comes to managing your time, 1)  when will you work and 2) what will you achieve in that time. Here is how we do it…

Make a Schedule and Stick To It.

Schedule your day, your week, your month. Get some blocks your calendar reserving your time. Whether you prefer to outline both work and home activities, or just set a block of work time, do what works for you. The key thing here is to set out the start and end time for your work day or, schedule time for each work task. Once you set that end time do not let it creep into family time or hobby time.  Once you have your schedule,  share it with your co-workers as well as family and friends. This will keep everyone in the loop about when you are available to them.

Create a Work Plan

With your schedule set, you can now define want needs to be accomplished in that time-frame. For some people this may mean working down a group task list in excel, for others this is checking off hand written notes. Regardless of how you prioritize tasks, the idea is to have what needs to be accomplished, in this time slot, determined before you start.  This will help you to keep moving forward without distractions, but will also provide a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Words from the team:

Ohm: “Routine creates consistency. Take advantage of the flexibility, but communicate it. Set an “errand hour”, where you can take care of unexpected personal errands that may arise. Make your availability known to people you frequently communicate with.

Jaime: “My best advice is to schedule blocks of hours where you can get some work done, and map out your whole week. When working from home, the managers only see the products. I find that this is motivation, to spend time wisely and to produce great results, despite the time spent. I typically go over my working hours, trying to learn new things and to improve the quality of my work. This in the end is both great for the employer and employee, because as an employee I’m constantly learning and expanding my roles.”

Have a Designated Place to Work From

Create a home-office space that will help you get into work-mode. Distraction-free and fully-equipped are the main requirements. A a nice view doesn’t hurt either.  Setting up a designated area with everything you need will limit the risk of you getting sidetracked. If you find yourself away from your usual workspace, create a temporary workspace with those same two principles in mind. Some folks like to head to coffee shops or parks to work. This can be a nice change of scenery, but they are bound to be filled with distractions. If you only have a few things to cross off your list getting distracted may not be the end of the world, but if you have a deadline re-consider working in public spaces.

Words from the team:

Amber: “I am grateful to have a home office with a door I can shut. I am able to go to my office, close the door and knock-out what I need to get done. Within my home office, I also set-up mini work spaces for the different work I have to do. Most of my work is done by computer so I have that space set up with a few screens, my phone charger, scanner and printer. I also have a space with a desktop so I can work “by hand”, and a whiteboard to solve problems or brainstorm. My third space has a cozy chair and rug where I can research or take long phone calls.  I am able to work all day without feeling like I have been in the same chair for 8 hours.”

Donnie: “The biggest issue for me is keeping the distractions  minimal, since I have at least one or more family members at home while working. This means working in the basement, and requesting my littlest to not sing and dance too loud while I’m working.”

Jaime: “Working from home, actually allows me to work from anywhere, even in Oslo, Norway. I can find a cozy corner in a cafe and get hours of work in, whenever I want. ( You can see Oslo Metropolitan University in the window.)”

Utilize Modern Technology to Communicate

Face-to-face time with co-workers and clients is limited when working remotely. This can put a strain on  building the  personal connections within teams, and with clients, that are vital to a group success. We suggest making an effort to meet in person periodically, and when that’s not possible, take advantage of technology like video chat to help improve the connection. Using many different methods of communication (email, chat, video conference) will help you identify what communication style works best within your group.

Email and chat applications can be very efficient, but they’re not always the best form of communication. Tasks are not always clearly defined, and misinterpreting someone’s tone, or meaning, can lead to conflict within a team or with clients. This may lead to job dissatisfaction and team dis-function. To help limit this,  schedule periodic in-person and video chat meetings. And if you have something important or difficult to talk about get on a video chat, or at the very least a phone call.  A personal connection with another human still makes a greater impact than conversations over email.

Words from the team:

Ohm: “You can’t just go knock on an office neighbors door for a quick question. Get to know your colleagues. You can have a quick phone call, write casual emails and have quick video calls. Detailed documents and emails help to log critical points and decisions. Follow up with quick action items. Communicate if you are waiting on anyone. You don’t have a white board to illustrate thoughts on, and that can be detrimental to visual learners (like myself). Use PowerPoint, a stylus, MS Paint or a whiteboard with a video call.”

Amber: “When in doubt, pick up the phone and call. Whenever I get an email, or a task assigned, that I am not 100% clear on I pick up the phone, rather than responding via email with questions. This helps get things clarified right away, and helps you get working faster.”

Yoann: “Working from home, I can take my son to school on my fat tire bike! “

 

Working from home can create flexibility, and the ability to focus and strive toward the main company objective. The PetroValues team has found success utilizing modern work environments and technologies.  The team is proud of the tools created and work accomplished, and has found time for balance in their lives.

 

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