With the COVID-19 outbreak turning a massive amount of the global workforce to remote work, everyone is adjusting to meetings, chatting, and collaborating exclusively online. This blog post shares the top tips on how to make working from home productive and healthy.
As you move to remote work, a few key habits will set you up for success.
Set up your workspace
If you don’t have a home office, don’t worry. You can still work from home productively. In fact, Teams was designed as a virtual office you can take anywhere you go. While you may not have a printer, physical files, or a desk phone at home, you can pull up documents directly in Teams, securely store files where the right people can access them, and quickly jump into calls and meetings. That said, it’s important to have a dedicated home workspace where you can be productive and signal that you’re in do-not-disturb mode. Any focus-friendly area can double as a workspace. And don’t worry if it gets a little messy throughout the day, you can always use background blur or even add your bespoke background during video meetings so your teammates focus only on you.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Did you know you can get Microsoft Teams FREE?
When working from home, your daily rhythm may change. This is especially true for those of us balancing work and childcare. Clearly communicate your working hours with your teammates and collaborators so that they know when to reach you. You can also set a status message in Teams to share this information proactively.
Also, make it a habit to offer frequent progress reports to your teammates. Fully remote companies tend to emphasise documentation, since it’s a key way to stay connected when you work apart. We recommend posting updates, insights, and helpful resources you’ve discovered in Teams channels, so your teammates can stay connected with what you’re up to even without the benefit of a water fountain chat! Later, they can search within the channel for ideas or content when they need them.
Maintain healthy boundaries
Without the usual workday signals—a walk to grab lunch, for instance, or a commute—unplugging can be a challenge. Remote workers sometimes find themselves working for long stretches without breaks for exercise, socialising, or a proper meal. This will quickly lead to stress and burnout. Remember: your health comes first. Make time for meals, drink plenty of water, and remind yourself to mentally “clock out” from remote work at the end of the day. These behaviours won’t just keep you healthy, they will also help you be more productive in the long run.
Embrace online meetings
In the absence of a physical conference room, bringing everyone together can feel like the biggest remote-work challenge of all. As you move meetings to Teams, make sure all meetings have a virtual “join” option to create an online conference room.. Also, we suggest that all participants turn on video if they are comfortable doing so. The face-to-face interaction goes a long way to help everyone feel connected.
Be mindful and inclusive
Moving to online meetings may remove some of the visual cues we rely on to see if a colleague has something to say in a meeting. And overcrowded conference calls can make it difficult for people to share their opinions. Meeting organisers should pause frequently to invite questions and remind attendees that they can also use the meeting chat window to share their thoughts.
Record your meetings
To compensate for lack of face time, some remote workers schedule extra meetings in order to stay connected with customers and team members. Double-bookings can be hard to avoid. If your business allows it, record meetings in Teams so coworkers can catch up later. If you can’t attend yourself, remind the organiser to record in your absence. The automatically generated transcript is also really when you’re trying to remember information covered in a meeting you attended.
Consider using Microsoft Virtual Appointments too.
Make up for missing hallway talk
A lot of remote workers find the thing they miss the most about the office is casual conversations. Chats in the kitchen not only keep us connected, they often surface important information or insights we wouldn’t have guessed. Be deliberate about reaching out and connecting with your team members. Think of chat messages as your virtual kitchen 🙂 and set yourself a reminder to check in with people regularly. Emojis, GIFs, and stickers are a fun way to keep the chatter fun and light.
Bring the team together
Working remotely can feel isolating. As a leader, it’s important to create opportunities for the whole team to get together virtually. Maintain your regular team meetings or team lunches, just make them online. Use the “General” channel in Teams for discussions that might be of interest to everyone. For large brainstorms you can use the Microsoft Whiteboard app, which provides an digital canvas for meeting participants to brainstorm and collaborate directly in Teams.
With all the changes that come with moving to remote work, it’s important to foster and maintain team morale. There are many things you can do within Teams to keep people feeling positive and engaged. Share news and stories in your team chat, personal or business related.
Be remote-work ready!
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