6 Tips for Staying Accountable and Productive While Working Remote During COVID-19
COVID-19 has driven many office-working professionals to accept the new reality that is remote work. Working from home presents its own set of unique challenges; particularly for those who aren’t familiar with maintaining productivity without the physical presence of authority or co-workers.
Remote work can sometimes make it easier to forget things—or for certain requests to remain in limbo, leading to incomplete work. Didn’t respond to an email right away? Whoops, you didn’t see it. You were absent from a group “happy hour?” You were busy helping your partner with something around the house.
While remote work presents its own challenge, the fear and stress caused by COVID-19 only exacerbates the feeling. Many professionals are learning to deal with the added pressure (and sometimes, distraction) of spouses and children in the home.
Despite the copious challenges posed by universal remote work—the show must go on. In order to become a successful remote worker, you’ll ultimately have to find ways to hold yourself accountable.
These six tips will help you hold yourself accountable and become a more efficient and effective remote worker:
Create A Morning Ritual
For many, one of the best things about working from home is that it allows us to make our own schedule. But for some, this freedom is can be worst things about remote work.
Try to stay consistent. Simple things like making your bed each morning or practicing light stretches or yoga can greatly increase productivity. For many, bedrooms have now also become office space due to others being active in the household who are usually at the office or school. Making your bed every morning is an easy way to begin the day with a positive habit that helps keep your “workspace” clean and you productive and focused.
Another effective ritual is waking up early enough to get dressed and ready before hopping on the morning video call. Video chat gives us all a way to connect on a deeper and more meaningful way than a simple phone call — it also gives us the extra kick we need to maintain the normalcy of “getting ready for a day at the office,” even if you choose to keep your pajama pants on. We won’t judge you.
Light exercise, stretching or yoga, walking the dog, making breakfast for your family or listening to podcasts or your favorite music are all good ways to set a productive tone for the work day ahead. Need a good podcast to add to your morning routine? Here’s a list of The Top Ten Podcasts for Healthcare Innovators.
Schedule Out Daily Duties
After the morning ritual is complete and you’re ready to conquer the day, take a some time to think about what needs to get done. What do you need from other people to accomplish your goals? Do you have too much, or too little work? Could you benefit from passing some of the work to another team member, or could it be helpful to collaborate with a co-worker? Write it down, text it to yourself, send yourself an email, download a to-do list app—just be sure to have a clear understanding of what you expect to accomplish.
Share your daily duties during the morning meeting or use a team communication platform like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Skype to let co-workers know what you’re working on. Daily stand ups can also be a really helpful way to keep everyone on the same page and projects on course.
Increase Visibility Over Company Initiatives
Tracking projects has never been more important than they are today with everyone working remotely. Without the normal check ins that come with a traditional office environment, it can quickly become overwhelming to keep up all the tasks at hand. Taking advantage of the many virtual team project management systems out there can be the key to ensuring initiatives stay on track.
Project management tools like Asana, Basecamp, Monday or Trello can make all the difference when working at home. These services provide a central hub for tracking the progress on each of your projects. Utilizing this technology to keep up with everything your team is working can be crucial to making sure everyone stays on the same page.
Maintain Mental and Physical Health
If your mental and physical health are out of balance, it will make it much harder to meet your business goals. We suggest you set some sort of exercise goal each day. Working from the comfort of your own home can make it easy to lose track of time behind the screen. Remember to get up and move around every now and then. Give your eyes a rest and stretch your legs! Try a 10-minute yoga class on YouTube or get outside for a quick walk. Don’t let yourself become one with the keyboard.
With the sudden transition to fully-virtual work, many employees will be contending with suboptimal workspaces and unforeseen parenting responsibilities due to school and daycare closures. Even under normal circumstances, family and home demands can infringe on virtual work. Both employees and managers should expect these distractions to be greater during this unprecedented time of change due to COVID-19.
Try to find a place in your home (or outside on the porch, the driveway, etc.) and create a quiet working environment where disruptions are minimal so that you can focus. If you live in a home with roommates or family, be sure to set boundaries so they’ll know when you’re available to “hang out” and when you need quiet time. Noise cancelling headphones are also a great idea!
Stay Honest, Vulnerable and Authentic
Authenticity is one of our company values here at Jumpstart, and everyone on the team has been working hard to uphold that value as we shift to long-term remote work. It’s important to remain transparent with your team about how you’re feeling; whether it’s lonely, sad, happy, stressed, panicked—staying open about your feelings and mental state helps to eliminate roadblocks and increase accountability.
It can be especially tough for managers and co-workers to spot an unhappy or overloaded worker via online instant messages or video calls. Make sure to be up-front about your thoughts, feelings and stress levels during these unfamiliar times. The Jumpstart team has stayed true and authentic by holding virtual happy hours, using the video chat feature whenever possible, sharing our favorite movies & podcasts with each other and making personal check-in phone calls at least once a week.
This may be a new way of working with your team or customers but it will get easier. Be conscientious and look for ways to make things better. Check yourself to make sure you’re pulling your weight and make an effort to help those that are struggling. Make sure the rules and norms that were established at the office are being upheld at home. Practice patience and grace. We will get through this.
Looking for more ways to stay accountable, productive and take care of yourself?
Check out our 3-part “Self-Care for Startup Founders” webinar/blog series:
Part One: Self-Care 101 for Startup Founders
Part Two: How Better Self-Care Makes You a Better Leader