How to work remotely (even with kids at home) during Coronavirus
With COVID-19 and shelter-at-home orders, more people are now working remotely or at home if they can. If you’re a first-timer or just need a little refresh on how to be productive and avoid isolation, here are a few tips and remote working resources that could help make the transition a little easier.
You’re going to need good bandwidth when working remotely especially if you’ll be doing any Zoom calls or Google Hangouts. This may mean you have the kids or anyone who may be at home with you stay offline while you’re on a conference call or manage any video meetings during times when the kids need to be online.
Tip: Your local internet service provider may be offering community assistance. Spectrum is offering free access to broadband and WiFi for new K-12 and college student households that their network currently passes for the next 60 days. Check with your local provider.
Routine & respected space
Ideally, you should claim a certain area of your home to be dedicated to work during your work hours. Clear off the kid’s school assignments and carve out a space for your “office” whether it’s in another bedroom or at the dining room table. This will help you feel productive and have a place to report to each day you’re working. Just be cautious and not be tempted to work at all hours of the day or night. Keeping boundaries between work and home life is so important to maintain even in today’s environment so you don’t burn out.
While it may be hard initially, you should have some type of routine for work and time for the kids or other activities for mental and physical breaks throughout the day. Taking a 10-minute walk is good for many reasons and will help you feel refreshed and less isolated.
Tip: Work sprints are a great way to stay focused and get stuff done. Like time-blocking, you set a timer for say 3 rounds of 20- to 30-minute sprints dedicated to getting a specific task done with no interruptions (meaning silence your phone and don’t check email). It’s even better if you reach out to coworkers or others working at home and get together via Zoom to have a virtual work sprint and hold each other accountable.
Organization & Structure
Plan your day – Have a general plan for the day or set one or two goals (be realistic) that you’re going to achieve by the end of the day. Use this time to tackle the first bite of that big project or several little tasks you’ve been putting off and get it done.
Keep yourself accountable – Write down the tasks for the day, tick them off as you complete them (feels so great!) and try not to end your day without completing them all. Being strict in this department will lay a good foundation for healthy productivity.
Break regularly – Simply getting up to stretch or move around for a couple of moments is great to clear the mind and get a little movement in to keep the blood flowing. The brain just needs to “reset” every once in a while.
Tip: We love using Sunsama for capturing our daily tasks and it integrates with Google calendar so you can drag and drop tasks to your calendar and time block for everything. Plus, it encourages you to pick just a few things that absolutely need to get done that day. Rather than packing in too many tasks in one day and not feeling like enough progress was made.
Check-in & Collaboration
Communicate and be accessible via Zoom or GoTo Meeting for conference calls. Or just pick up the phone. Having a conversation is so important right now since we’re feeling what life is like without the in-person connections. Manage your tasks and collaborate with coworkers, teams and your boss via programs like Asana or Slack or even a simple Google Doc. Identify the major projects or tasks you will achieve each week while working remotely. Outline a check-in meeting or call weekly or daily as needed. Don’t be afraid to send useful (not annoying) email updates letting your boss or coworkers who may need to know about the status of the projects you’re working on during your remote days.
Parenting while remote working
It can be challenging working remotely when you have loved ones or others in your space who may not understand that you’re working and not just hangin’ at home. And if you have to keep the kids occupied with home schooling or just entertained so you can get your job done, this can be a juggling act. Setting some ground rules upfront with the family or roommates is a good start. Explain how you’ve structured the day per the steps above and let them know that there are going to be times when you may need quiet while on a video call or have to get back to them later after work.
Tip: For those parents who are doing the home-schooling thing or if the kids finish their homework early and need something to do beyond video games or movies, here are some great resources for kids for remote teaching. For help with everything from getting the kids off the screen to how to handle home schooling, click over to NPR’s tips for parenting during Coronavirus. (You can listen to the audio versions as well.)
What if you can’t work remotely
If you have a job that does not allow you to work remotely (grocery store and warehouse personnel, nurses and doctors, fast-food workers, etc.), ask your employer what you can do to make sure you’re not losing pay. Keep in mind that things are rapidly changing given the Coronavirus, so it’s not clear whether hourly workers or those who can’t do remote work will be paid if they can’t work.
Some large employers are offering paid leave or sick leave to protect the health of their workers and customers. The best thing is to ask your manager or human resources department what the compensation may be if you are unable to work remotely or can’t come to work. And if you can work, what are the precautions they’ve prepared for you.
We wish you safety and health during this challenging time and the best of luck in your remote working future. Contact us if you need help or resources by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.