In Tri Delta’s new series, “3 For You,” we’re covering the best tips from experts as we navigate our new circumstances during COVID-19. Tri Delta alumna and Executive Office staff member Erika Beatty, Minnesota, shares her three best practices for working remotely. Read her three tips below, listen to the full podcast or watch Erika’s Video Pick.
In these new circumstances, one of the biggest shifts people have had to make is working remotely. Many workers and students have moved to a virtual workplace or remote learning, and this is a big adjustment! As we navigate this new professional dynamic, here are three best practices for creating a balanced and healthy remote work lifestyle.
Tip #1: Schedule blocks of time
Your day-to-day schedule can get off track when you have kids at home or others in the house also working remotely. It’s important to schedule in blocks of time so you can set boundaries for when your start and stop times are. Schedule time in the morning to get ready for the day, whether it’s having your coffee, or setting a child up for success so you can do what you need to do.
When possible, block certain times of the day for meetings and certain times of the day for solo work. We all think we’re great at multi-tasking, but it’s scientifically proven that we can’t multi-task—what we can do is task switch. Going back and forth between tasks takes extra brain power, but blocking time in chunks can help you have the most success. Be sure to block time for life: whether that’s helping your kids, taking time to make lunch or setting aside time for self-care.
Tip #2: Communication is key
When working remotely, you don’t have that opportunity to walk down the hallway to check in on someone, see a coworker after a meeting and have that side conversation. Be purposeful about letting everyone know when they can contact you. Let coworkers know when you have open time to touch base, and find opportunities for one-on-one communications. Utilize communication tools outside of primary email, such as Slack, Teams or instant messenger platforms.
Set team members up for success by performing an end-of-the-day wrap up. Send out minutes for any meetings you’ve held, answer emails and voicemails and provide project status updates so that in the morning coworkers already have what they need from you to start their work—this is especially important when working in different time zones.
Tip #3: Increase your connections
Build extra communication time into your everyday work. When you’re starting a meeting, take some extra time to check on each other before you launch into the agenda. Any extra compassion and kindness we can give to each other as coworkers during this time when we’re all trying something a little new and different just makes everyone on the team ready to go and feel a little better as we start our work.
Set up virtual opportunities to hang out. Schedule a time with your team later in the evening or over early morning coffee to have more casual conversations. Allow time for real connection and personal relationships to shine through. As a manager, be sure to ask your direct reports how they and their families are doing during this time and how they are coping with the changes of remote work.
Nonverbal communication over video is key, so make sure you have good lighting. Add a lamp to your desk so you can have better lighting on your face. It will help your communications go smoother because everyone will be able to see all those nonverbal cues and be able to have better and stronger conversations.