How to get things done while working remotely for a long time
Although we had had some experience with this style of work, it was the coronavirus pandemic that made us switch to being the remote-first company. A few of us still work from the office, yet the majority of Naturaily’s employees prefer remote work. Tips and tricks for staying productive are always good to know, so here we go!
The whole world is facing circumstances unknown to modern society. In Poland, all nurseries, schools, universities, cinemas, theaters and more have been temporarily closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. US is also taking serious measures, such as the ban on all inbound flights from Europe for a month.
All who can - switch to remote work mode. This is nothing new for the IT industry, but not all of us have had the opportunity to work remotely for an extended period of time. Therefore, we have prepared a short guide on what to do to stay productive and maintain a good mental condition while remaining in isolation.
Since the very beginning, part of our strategy has been to allow our team members to work remotely. Some of them do so on a daily basis, while others do so one or two days a week. Our headquarters are in Wroclaw, but most of our clients are from abroad, so we cooperate with them remotely 99% of the time. We know the drill and we know the benefits of this style of operation. Now we are switching to fully remote work. If you are planning to do the same (which we strongly recommend) - check out our good practices listed below and make use of them.
How to get things done
Stick to the rituals
When we have asked our team members who are working remotely on a daily basis to give us some useful tips - keeping the rhythm of the day was the first one. Sticking to the fixed schedule helps to stay organized and avoid the sense of being in work mode all day long.
More good practices:
Get up at the same time every day - even during the weekends (it is good for your health)
Drink your morning coffee and eat breakfast before you start work. Don’t postpone it and don’t eat while working (it can cause problems, e.g. overeating)
Take a half-hour offline lunch break.
When you finish your tasks - turn off the computer and try to relax (you will find some ideas below)
Use only the necessary tools
There are apps for almost everything. Management tools, time-trackers, communicators and many other solutions that are designed to improve our work. All of them send dozens of notifications a day, which causes a lot of noise and, ironically, distracts us from what we are working on.
This is why it is important to choose and use only essential tools that truly make our work more productive.
Here you will find an extended list of products you can use to maintain collaboration and work remotely with your team. We can strongly recommend Slack, Zoom, Appear.in, Breeze, Trello and Calamari, because we have been using them for quite a long time now and these are the tools that really help us on a daily basis.
More good practices:
Use only essential tools
Don’t check Slack every 5 minutes.
Switch off sound notifications - also on your smartphone. Make friends with ‘Do not disturb mode’
Don’t check social media while working - you will lose 30 minutes before you even know it
How to stay okay while isolation
Even the best tools will do nothing if you feel burned out or not able to focus. This is why it’s crucial to take care of your physical and mental condition as well. Staying at home for several days, 24 hours a day, can make you fall into an unhealthy routine.
To avoid it:
Get dressed as though you are leaving the house. Depression is real and working in your pajamas is not an option!
Change scenery once in a while (it will boost your mood and productivity)
Take care of the right workplace. A desk and a comfortable armchair are a must-have. Working on the couch is fun, but only in the short run
Get up every hour, stretch and look away so that your eyes can rest from the monitor
Work out a little, even if you usually do not do sports. Under ordinary circumstances, you commute, go shopping or see movies - you move a little. Standing still, sitting a lot to be precise, can affect your mental and physical condition badly
If you don’t like a typical workout - do some yoga. It may relieve back pain and reduce functional disability.
YouTube is full with tutorials dedicated to people who sit all day long. Like this one:
Here you will find 5 yoga poses every programmer should try.
Stay in touch with friends and family. Luckily, we have so many communication tools at our disposal that we can maintain close relationships while staying safe.
Create your ‘productivity playlist’. Spotify is full of different propositions but decide on your own what works best for you.
Naturailians on working remotely
I have been working remotely for over 10 years now. My key to success is the constant rhythm of the day. I get up at the same time every day, eat breakfast and start work. When I’m done, I get up from my computer and don’t check any notifications until the next day.
I have small children so the fixed schedule is undoable. That is why planning is the most important thing for me. I use tools like Jira and Asana, rather than relying on paper or keeping it in my head. This calms both me and the client down. I know exactly what am I doing, what waits for me, what problems may occur etc. In my case, remote work is a natural and unforced form of cooperation, and it doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable. Like Arek, I finish my work after 4 p.m, which means I don’t write back on Slack and I try not to think about tomorrow’s work (because I have planned it already!) I focus on myself and my family.
For me, self-discipline is the most important thing while working remotely. So there is no place for just one episode of my favorite TV series - just to start the day nicely. I do my job and then I have time for myself. Interestingly, it is very common for me to be more productive at home than in the office, because fewer things distract me.
The upcoming weeks might be tough. But we, as an industry, have to appreciate the fact that we can work remotely and practically nothing changes for us and our clients. Not so many people have this privilege.
I hope that the listed tips will help you switch to remote work mode smoothly. If you have any other good practices to share - please add them in the comments section. Stay in & stay safe!
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