Some Tips on Working Remotely
By Triparna de Vreede
TAMPA (March 18, 2020) -- Are you finding yourself now at home working remotely? Is it something new for you? Are you finding it a little cumbersome?
Here are some tips from Triparna de Vreede, associate chair of the Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department with the USF Muma College of Business. She also is the director of the master's degree program in management. Here are some of her personal observations:
- Have a routine
It is important that you have a routine that mimics a workday. Get up at a certain time, take care of family obligations in one go, get ready and set up your workstation, determine break, lunch and end times. Get to work. Routines will be disturbed and you have to be flexible, but not having one results in chaos.
- Have a work schedule
Have strict work times and schedules. Ask yourself questions such as "what hours will I be working" and try to adhere to that to prevent burnout. What will you be working on and on which day? What marks the end of your workday? When can people reach you if they want to? Do not go out to have a cup of coffee with friends or shopping during work hours unless it's a planned break and you have accommodated it in your schedule in advance.
- Have a work to-do list and prioritize it (and don't forget to strike them off)
Have a clear to-do list. You can create it yourself, but also check with your supervisor what needs to be done and by when. Have the to-do list include very concrete and achievable goals that you can cross off. Divide the list by themes and categories and then have small, concrete action items under that. Have a to-do list for each day as well as umbrella lists for the week.
- Be accountable to yourself and to somebody else (promise stuff)
Promise yourself that you will get something done by the end of the day/week and get that done. Make sure that you only promise what you can deliver. Have accountabilities with others over email that you have to accomplish. There are few bigger motivators than someone else waiting for you to finish your job so that they can finish theirs.
- Display your strong work ethic
When working from home, work ethic is critical. Have passion for what you do and compassion for the ones who benefit from your work. Have a larger meaning in mind. You always make a difference – remember what you do and keep chipping away at your part. Make sure you don’t need anyone telling you what to do other than your conscience.
- Give yourself time to take a break
Time flies when you are busily working away. So, make sure you schedule your breaks into the work schedule and take them seriously. Have some snack, go for a walk, play with your pets…but do not do something that will take your complete focus away from work (watching a movie), or something that does not have an end point shortly (clean your house).
- Do not do any chores/activities that you would not do if you were at work
I recommend not doing housework during “work hours.” That changes your focus to a different set of priorities. It introduces other pressing issues into the mind space that may not have to do with work. That makes it difficult to go back into the zone with your work.
- Be strict about your “off hours”
Treat your work time as sacred and your “home time” as sacred. Do not mix the two, no matter how tempted you might be. Have a strict schedule that appeals to you. Have a small window of hours where you allow yourself to do either “home” or “work” depending on the situation. For the remainder of the time, just hold on to your path and be disciplined.
- Create the space where your family/kids know they cannot bother you
Let everyone (including your kids, pets, and significant other) know that the space you have chosen is your office. While you are at work, you cannot attend to family issues and they have to be sorted out by themselves or wait until you come “home.” That discipline is critical. Hire a nanny/babysitter if necessary.
- Have a list of your accomplishments/achievements that you can readily share if asked
Have a clear list of progress that you have made ready at hand in case you are asked to share your productivity. Even if it is working towards a solution, log the number of hours you spent trying to do something that you have no outcome to show and have a list of all the different things you tried.
- Have all your meetings with video on
Never have meetings with video off. That not only keeps you accountable, your workspace clean, yourself presentable, but it also allows for some much-needed contact with your peers. Soon you will notice that you will do small talk and joke over the video chat.
- Create a support friend network with whom you can chat and talk – both on and off
Make sure you have some trusted colleagues that are your friends that you can catch a lunch/coffee with. Try an “on-nomi” (non-alcoholic if during work hours) if meeting is not feasible. “On Nomi is when you have the video chat on while sharing a cup of coffee with your friend/colleague and have a non-work-related chat and catch up on the day. You can meet up with your friends and other support network after “work” or have a routine to yourself to indicate that your workday has ended.