How to Win at Remote Working

March 23, 2020

Working from home has for a long time been a core Critical policy, so for most of us, the current situation is not totally new. Here’s what we have learned.

Remote working station

COVID-19 has taken the world into completely uncharted territory, and as a matter of protection and safeguarding it’s now essential that we work remotely. Working from home has for a long time been a core Critical policy, so for most of us, the current situation is not totally new.

Morning and evening routines can help open and close your day as a remote worker.

Keep your routines simple and consistent!

But keep this message in mind, no matter the reason why you’re working from home you need to keep enjoying your coffee break, establish mental and special boundaries in your home, and treat the working day as you would do in the office. Keep to those things and you’re good to go!

With that said:

Rule Number #1: Adopt a daily routine

Wake-up, get out of bed, get showered and get dressed. If you don’t get ready for the day, it’ll almost be like your day hasn’t started. I know that it’s very tempting to get up, turn on your laptop and work in your pyjamas. But don’t succumb to this false feeling of comfort: if you keep your routines, your brain will respond in the same way as it will if you were going to the office.

If helps, write down your daily routine, for example:

  • 7:30 am: Wake up after at least 8 hours of sleep
  • 7:40 am: Get ready for the day
  • 8:00 am: Walk my dog while listening to a podcast/news
  • 8:30 am: Make coffee and have breakfast (while catching up on notifications)
  • 9:00 am: Sit down at your desk
  • 9:00 am: Start work

At the end of your day, write down the tasks you need to complete tomorrow. Look at the list when you start the next day. And make sure to end your day by creating another list for tomorrow.

Rule Number #2: Define a clear space or area at home.

Invest in an office setup, with all the equipment you need to get working…

For those who can, buy/use an office chair to avoid experiencing back pain or muscle tension… stretch when you can.

Remember that when you work from home you’re at home—but you’re also at work. At all costs, you should avoid turning your entire house or apartment into an amorphous space where you’re always on the clock but also kind-of not.

Whatever your set-up, keep it tidy, or at least as tidy as your usual office space.

Rule Number #3: Stay Connected

Don’t isolate yourself. You are working from home, not from Mars, so create entertaining work strategies like pretending you are in the corridors of the office. Why not have a remote coffee chat and discuss the fantastic recipe you made yesterday or the project going on with your colleagues? Try to set up videoconferences as much as you can.

Call your friends after work, do a videocall, both will make you feel more connected. And did you know, you're more emotionally intelligent on the phone?

Rule Number #4: Get Some Fresh Air – Press Pause

We know there’s a lockdown on, but use your window or balcony, put on some music or stay in silence, but allow yourself a bit of fresh air…

You can use an app, such as TimeOut for Mac and Smart Break for Windows, to give yourself a break for a few minutes.

Rule Number #5: Rely on Tech

Technology is a strong ally when you are working remotely. You have numerous apps to help you with every challenge you may face while working remotely - team communication, video calls, time management, distractions, breaks… there is almost certainly an app for that.

Equally important is to replicate your office work tech as much as possible. At Critical, during the COVID-19 outbreak, our colleagues can take home their keyboards and monitors, so they can recreate the best working conditions in the comfort of their own home. It may also be useful to invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

During these uncertain times, we’re bound to spend most of our time at home, so it’s also important to plan how you are going to spend your free time.

Rule Number #6: Look for Online Learning Opportunities

It’s a good time to stay up-to-date with that online course you always wanted to take.

Will keep you on that learning curve and will give you the chance to keep challenging yourself.

Rule Number #7: Keep Away from Bad News

Social media spreads news fast, but there’s no doubt some news will only provoke anxiety! Be selective, read the news twice a day, to understand what’s happening in the world. Come to your own conclusions and stay safe. Limit what you read or consume to ensure the news isn’t overwhelming.

We always tend to overestimate the bad things and underestimate the good things, so try to keep things in perspective.

Rule Number #8: Manage your Emotions

Becoming frustrated, feeling imprisoned, missing contact with colleagues; all of these things are natural and normal responses. Try to catch yourself before you spiral into negativity by writing down ten things you’re grateful for. This can shift your mood very quickly.

Rule Number #9: Stay Active – Be Creative

Gyms are, on the whole, shut now as part of many countries’ lockdowns. Fortunately, though, the digital world gives you tonnes of options, so we don’t have to miss out on getting fit! You can train with your relatives, dogs, whoever… but make sure to keep active.

Very important, stay calm and safe, and separate as much as you can your work and personal life. If you are looking for ideas on how to spend your time, take a look at what our colleagues from Critical Software are doing.