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5 Survival Strategies for Working Remotely

March 17 2020 / by Karen Mares

Filed under: tools and tips

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Before the last few weeks, when you pictured working remotely you probably conjured up images of a typical stock photo: a barefoot person on a sandy beach with the sun on their faces and their laptops open. Like this:
 Woman on beach with laptop open - working remotely.

We can confirm beyond any doubt that is not where we are right now. Working from home or remotely can look a little more like this:

Picture of a messy desk with a keyboard in the center of the photo.

If you're new to the remote workforce, welcome! We've been at this for several years now, and thought we could share some work-from-home tips to keep you from losing your marbles. We asked our EventBuilder team to share their best remote work strategies, including focus, productivity, collaboration, and more. 

5 Survival Strategies for Working Remotely

  1. Set a Designated Workspace
  2. Maintain a Schedule - With Wiggle Room
  3. Minimize Distractions
  4. Take Breaks
  5. Cultivate a Healthy Remote-Work Culture

Set a Designated Workspace

It's really tempting to wander all over the house in your pajamas with your laptop in one hand and your coffee in the other. In fact, once in awhile, it's awesome. However, having a specfic space in your home where you work, and yes, getting all the way dressed, helps you get in the right frame of mind for your workday. 

"I have a designated office where the only thing I do in that room is work. Mentally, It helps me separate my work life from my home life and the tempations to do household chores. When I can't see unfolded laundry or dirty dishes, I'm better able to stay on task. ~Karen M. Content Creator/Event Producer

"Going to that workspace keeps me in the zone." ~Laura L. Program Manager/Event Producer

Maintain a Schedule - With Wiggle Room

It's also very tempting to blur the lines between your work day and your down time. Keeping those two aspects of your life separated gets a little harder when you work from home. We recommend setting and maintaining your regular schedule. Get up at your usual time, keep your routine, and then, when your work day is done, unplug. By maintaining your schedule you can ease your transition back to the office - you won't feel like someone ran over you with a truck every morning for the first few weeks back.

"I plan my day's start and end times around my meetings. Build your personal time/breaks into your calendar." ~Lauren M., CEO

"Since your usual 'stop' visual cues - you're all alone, lights are down, the janitorial staff fires up the vacuum, etc. - aren't there, you have to build "stop working" times for yourself. It's ok to throw up your hands and say, "I'm done for the day."  ~Robin H., CTO

Minimize Distractions

It never fails: You start a Teams meeting and your neighbor's lawn maintenance crew shows up with the leaf blower, the kids are home and turn up the TV, or someone rings the doorbell and your docile pup suddenly morphs into Cujo. Closing windows and doors can help with the outside noise, and moving temporarily to another, quieter spot in your house can also dampen the background noise when you're in meetings. Family interruptions are tougher. Set boundaries about when you are available and when the kids can be on their media. If the din hampers your work mojo, try a white noise app like Atmosphere (Google Play / AppStore) or Coffitivity, available for both phone or desktop.

"Mute is your friend." ~Kelley S., Software Success

"For your kids, have meals and snacks ready to eat, and schedule a structured time when they can ask you questions or need help with something. Being able to say, "I can answer your question/help you at ____" can help reduce interruptions. ~Amanda C, Event Services/Event Producer

Take Breaks

When you're working from home it's easy to fall down a work hole, so-to-speak. No one wanders by your cubicle to chat about the latest episode of Ozark, so it's easy to get tunnel vision.  It's important to get up, stretch, take a walk, etc. Set a timer or an alarm, then step away from your desk/workspace and get some fresh air. Set your availability on Teams or Skype to "be right back" and disconnect. 

"For a brain break, podcasts are my go-to. There's some great short-form ones out there that are perfect for a quick diversion and reset. If I can double that up with a quick walk, even better."  ~Karen M. Content Creator/Event Producer

When I need a break, I like to take my dog for a walk, sit in my backyard and read a few chapters in a book, or sit down by the river near my house. My advice for people who are new to working from home is to close your computer when you aren't working or when you take a break - otherwise it's hard to walk away. ~Stephanie H., ASD Team Manager and Training Manager.
Check out this list of podcast quickies from player.fm. 

Cultivate a Healthy Remote Work Culture.

One thing we at EventBuilder are particularly proud of is our company culture. We use Teams and have chat channels where we talk work, share common interests, memes, gifs, and create a remote-work culture that helps keep us connected. None of us work in silos! We need each other, even when we can't be face-to-face. Because we are a 100% remote workforce, we're conscious about our communications and our relationship building.

"Because I don't run into my colleagues at the office, I make it a point to be intentional; I don't leave nurturing a relationship with my co-workers up to chance." ~Robin H.

Make plans that bridge both online and in-person gatherings:

"I put together a team of EventBuilder employees to form a Portland to Coast team. We meet regularly via Teams to share tips and ideas, participate in practice races together in-person, and we have more virtual and face-to-face gatherings planned as we get closer to the race in August.  ~Tonya B., Event Services/Software Success

Get some face time - if you primarily run meetings via audio, make it a point to turn on your webcam occasionally: 

"If you start to feel isolated, turn on your webam for a few minutes while you're talking with a co-worker or in a meeting. It helps you feel connected and like a real human again - we're colleagues, but we're also friends." ~Laura L. Event Program Manager/Event Producer

BONUS:

Making the transition to remote work can be daunting, especially if you've never done it before. To get more comfortable with the ins and outs, we suggest reading up on how to run (successful) virtual meetings, how Microsoft is handling remote work for its employees, and you can also learn with us!

We're offering free webinars or a free 20-minute consultation call to help you ease the transition to virtual managing meetings and events. If you want a customized training package, we can do that, too! Visit our Transition Training page to sign up for an Ask Me Anything-style webinar where you can ask questions and get straightforward answers, or contact us via the form included on the page and we'll schedule a time to talk to you.

EventBuilder and You

We'll partner with you to get your virtual events and meetings ready to rock. Let us show you what EventBuilder can do!

 

Topics: tools and tips

Karen Mares

About Karen Mares

Karen is EventBuilder's Content Writer. She's also a wife, mom, singer, and history nerd.

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