Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, lots of people are learning how to work from home all at once for the sake of social distancing efforts. It can be tough to communicate and be focused during these troubled times, especially if you’re trying to stay connected to coworkers and get some work done!
Staying connected with your colleagues is the key to productivity. You need to continue working with a team, even if you’re working from home offices and living rooms all over the region. Here are some tips for staying connected to your office culture and keeping your productivity up.
Organization is your best friend while working remotely
Have you ever found yourself working on a project, only to find that you’re stalling out because you need information from a colleague and you can’t get them to respond? When you’re working from home, those kinds of organizational communication problems can become very common.
To fight back, it’s important to stay super organized when working from home. At the end of the night, make a to-do list for the next day and send out any emails with requests for help and information you’ll need to complete your tasks. That way, you start the day with a plan—and hopefully all the information you need.
You should also consider using workflow management tools that support the work you do, to stay connected to coworkers. Organizing big goals into smaller tasks and tracking their progress with due dates, updates, and priorities will allow you and your colleagues to make real progress and to track your effort.
Remote work – time to over-communicate with your coworkers
In reviewing which companies have succeeded in creating a strong remote work culture vs. those who haven’t, communication comes up again and again. In fact, communication is the bedrock of happy and productive remote work.
It’s very easy to feel isolated and disconnected from both your colleagues and the organization’s larger goals when you’re working by yourself at home. To offset this, you need to almost over-communicate with your coworkers. Everyone needs to understand the importance of strong, clear and positive communication throughout the day.
The good news is that there are so many tools to make communication easy. In addition to chat programs like slack, you also have a video chat, email, and good old phone calls. Strive to improve your communication skills when working from home, don’t avoid using them.
But it’s not just if your communicating. It’s how!
The catch with easy-to-use digital communication tools is that it’s easy to misinterpret your colleagues’ intentions during virtual communication, and vice versa. When you’re talking to someone in person, you can look them in the eye and absorb signals from their body language that might provide you with enough context and information for you to understand them.
Over email, chat, or text, you’re missing those cues. You might think someone’s tone in an email means they’re upset when in reality they could be simply busy or poor at writing emails. That’s why it’s so important to try to replicate the in-person experience as much as possible when you’re working remotely. Tools like video chat and screen sharing can add much-needed information like body language, tone, context, and examples to help everyone communicate effectively.
Is your ADD kicking In? Try these tips for boosting memory and focus
Even if you’re doing well at communicating and able to stay connected to coworkers, it can be extremely challenging to stay focused with all the distractions at home. Since most people who are stuck at home due to the pandemic are probably going to be remote for at least a few more weeks, it’s a good idea to work on improving your memory and focus so you can stay productive throughout this period of social distancing.
Some of the best ways to stay sharp and focused are also great self-care tips. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and staying active are key. Try to get outside or do some yoga in the living room daily. You might also want to work in some mindfulness practices, like meditation to help you focus and reduce any anxiety you might have. It’s a stressful time, and we all need to be prioritizing our mental and physical health.
You should also try getting rid of any distractions in your workplace. Shut the door and leave your phone in the other room, unless you need it for work. Focus on connecting with your colleagues while you’re working—then unplug from the office at the end of the day and take care of yourself!
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.