Best Practices for Remote Work in a Nutshell

In today’s rapidly changing world, where so many people are suddenly transitioning to remote work, we can learn a lot from those who have been independently working outside of a traditional office environment for some time. By studying their strategies and approaches, we can gain valuable insight into how to effectively and efficiently work from home.

Despite the differences in our circumstances, job roles, and personalities, those of us who work remotely have many commonalities. We all understand the unique challenges of working from home and the need for self-discipline and focus. We all appreciate the convenience that remote work provides, such as the ability to work from anywhere and the potential to have a more flexible schedule. We also have a greater sense of responsibility for our own work and the potential to be more productive. Additionally, we all must find ways to collaborate and communicate effectively with colleagues, even when separated by distance. Ultimately, we all strive to find a balance between our professional and personal lives, while also making the most of our remote working environment.

In order to optimise team productivity and effectiveness while working remotely, it is important to implement certain practices that will help your team make the most of the situation. Here are some recommended best practices that can help you and your team succeed while working remotely: 1. Establish clear communication protocols – Ensure that everyone on the team has access to the same channels of communication and that everyone understands expectations for response times and communication frequency. 2. Set realistic goals – Make sure that everyone understands what is expected of them and what their goals should be. Make sure that these goals are realistic and achievable in the current remote working environment. 3. Foster collaboration – Make sure that everyone on the team has the necessary tools and resources to work together and share ideas, feedback, and progress. 4. Encourage work-life balance – Make sure that your team is aware of the importance of taking breaks, setting boundaries, and having some work-free time during the day. 5. Prioritise self-care – Encourage your team to prioritise their overall wellbeing, both mental and physical. By implementing these practices, you and your team can ensure that you are making the most of your remote working environment and that everyone is feeling supported and productive.

We will discuss:

  • Communication
  • Interactions with others
  • Belief
  • Online etiquette
  • Telecommuting

Communication is key.

Quick wins:

  • Agreed on the protocols and timelines for communications.
  • Switch to remote mode.
  • In meetings, use video.
  • Sending multiple messages at once is appropriate
  • Before sending messages, make sure they’re correct and meaningful.
  • The key to successful messaging is providing enough context so that your message is understood, but not so much that it becomes annoying
  • Documentation is usually thorough.

Working remotely can be a major challenge for many people, as they are accustomed to having the ability to simply “pop over” to a coworker’s desk in an office setting in order to ask questions. When working in a remote capacity, it is essential to be mindful and to plan ahead when it comes to communicating with colleagues, as it is not as easy to just drop by their workspace.

Using asynchronous communication can help us to resist the temptation of seeking an immediate response from our colleagues. Establishing mutually agreed-upon timeframes for employees to reply can be beneficial, as it ensures that all team members understand and are able to meet the set expectations.

Additionally, grouping conversations together can help you cultivate better communication practices. Rather than sending individual messages when you have a query, try amassing them into a single post, and carefully review and edit it before sending it. Is this level of detail necessary, or can you make your message more concise?

Documenting project progress is an essential element for ensuring that your team and projects remain on track. It is imperative that high-quality documentation be a priority for all stakeholders and that everyone agrees on the formats and procedures for keeping records current while also preserving version control and data security.

Asynchronous Communication is a form of communication in which the exchange of information does not require the sender and recipient to be available at the same time. It is often used for remote communication, such as through email or messaging applications like Slack, which allow messages to be sent or received at any time. Asynchronous communication can provide an advantage over synchronous communication, as it enables individuals to communicate without needing to be present in the same place or time.

Trust and Social Beings

Quick wins:

  • Plan time for team socialising into your daily schedule.
  • Talk about team trust.
  • Set up check-in requirements.
  • Encourage two-way feedback.
  • Ensure that team members are supported.
  • Encourage team members to be serendipitous.

As human beings, we are social creatures with the capacity to form close connections, build trust, and enhance communication and collaboration as that trust develops. When working remotely, however, there is a risk of this process being significantly hampered due to the lack of face-to-face contact. To promote a sense of serendipity and creativity among your remote team, you could use tools such as Donut through Slack to inject a certain degree of spontaneity into team interactions, thus encouraging the same social bonding that would occur in more informal settings.

It is essential to incorporate social connections into your work week. Make sure to allocate a segment of your daily standup to discuss topics outside of work; while this may initially seem like an inefficient use of time, it is actually an investment that will pay off in the form of improved team performance in the long run.

Organise virtual discussions, introductory activities, and in-person meetings when feasible to facilitate interpersonal relationships among your team members. Doing so will help create an environment of camaraderie and collaboration, encouraging team members to work together more effectively.

As a manager, it is important to initiate open discussions with team members to ensure that they feel trusted and supported in their job. It is important to differentiate between “checking-in” on a team member, and “checking up” on them. Checking-in is intended to show that you care and that you are invested in their well-being, while checking up can come off as over-monitoring. To provide the team with the necessary structure and guidance, it is important to establish clear expectations for when team and individual check-ins will occur. Scheduling these check-ins will help everyone understand where they are in terms of a project, what their next steps are, and how far they have progressed. Furthermore, it is important to make it clear to team members that individual check-ins are intended to assess if they are enjoying their work and feeling encouraged. These check-ins should be a two-way street, with both the manager and the team member sharing knowledge and feedback.

The importance of trust in a remote working environment cannot be understated. It is essential for managers to ensure that those new to remote work feel trusted, as this is a fundamental factor in enabling them to be successful in the role. To that end, it is important to have open and honest conversations with employees about trust, and to acknowledge their contributions when they have done an exemplary job. By doing so, managers can reinforce the trust placed in their employees, which will in turn foster an environment of productivity and success.

Boundaries and Online Etiquette

Quick wins:

  • videos are a viable alternative for conference calls.
  • Make a schedule.
  • Everyone is on the phone for the meeting.
  • Establish firm office hours or a job deadline.
  • Create rituals to help you begin and finish your days.

Due to the interactive nature of the technologies we are using, it is essential that we take extra care when conducting virtual meetings. During video conference calls, it is easier to interrupt someone than it would be in a physical meeting. To ensure that all participants remain engaged and interested, it is important to establish best practices for communication and collaboration.

When hosting a conference call with a hybrid team, it is important to make sure that all team members are treated equally. This means that all team members should be located at their workstations and dial in to the call as if they were remote. This helps to ensure that all team members have the same level of communication and knowledge of the best practices for conducting an online meeting. It is not good meeting etiquette to have certain team members in a room while their remote colleagues are unable to hear what is going on. Everyone should be included in the same manner, no matter the location.

Finally, it is important to set boundaries in order to prevent burnout for individuals who are working remotely. Working late into the evening or skipping lunch breaks can take its toll on employees and can lead to a decline in productivity. To avoid this, it is a good idea to agree on specific work hours that are practical and appropriate for the individual, or to set personal boundaries such as not working after 8pm on a weekday. This can help prevent burnout and eliminate the need to constantly question if it is okay to work another hour or not.

At the end of a long day at work, it can be challenging to transition out of the workplace mindset and into a relaxed state. Incorporating rituals into both the beginning and end of your day can provide a greater sense of mental clarity and ease the transition from the workday to home life. Examples of activities that can help create the boundaries between work and home life include taking a walk in nature, listening to music, exercising, or scheduling a call or coffee with a friend or family member.

We all have our own individual ways of operating and are continuously benefiting from the knowledge of our peers. We would greatly appreciate it if you could share with us the strategies that work best for you and your team.

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