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Staying Engaged and Productive While Working From Home

With Covid-19 pandemic upending the business world, ITG, along with most software engineering companies around the world, are switching to remote work to ensure the safety of employees.

Working from home can bring a sense of freedom, but it can also make you feel disconnected and lonely. Most of us miss the team spirit that working in a shared environment along with our colleagues can provide and dread the realization that some days we spend hours without talking to another human being.

So, here are 9 tips I’ve learned first hand to help you maintain strong relationships with your co-workers and boost your productivity while working remotely.

1: See and be Seen

“Listen with your eyes as well as your ears” says Graham Speechley. If you’re sending tons of emails daily, it’s an indication that you’re not getting your point across. People might even interpret your words the wrong way or get confused.

Working in a common space allows you to simply get up and walk to someone’s desk for a quick chat or a question which you obviously cannot do while working remotely. The solution is to hold video calls with your peers and managers using any of the various technologies available. Show your face and use your body to communicate your passion and ideas. We all need that human connection.

2: Stick to the Same Work Schedule Your Colleagues Have

Unless you’re working on different shifts, working the same hours as your colleagues makes communication and interaction much easier. It enables you to work with your team or get answers or guidance much faster and in a more useful manner.

3: Keep the Small Talk Alive

While we might find ourselves involved deeply in our daily tasks, we may end up feeling like a machine at the end of the day. Keeping the small talk going with your colleagues by chatting or Facetime during your breaks helps a great deal to break the monotony of work.

“While we might find ourselves involved deeply in our daily tasks, we may end up feeling like a machine”

4: Create a Working Space

I am sure most of us don’t miss the cubicles, but having a work space with defined boundaries is an under-appreciated blessing. An inadequate workspace is a common productivity barrier that goes unnoticed for most remote workers and entrepreneurs. When working from home, we envision staying in bed in our pajamas. But working from your comfort spots can be tricky as it makes it harder to separate when to be active and when to be relaxed.

Dedicating a space for work even if it’s a small table and a plastic chair could make a huge difference in helping remote workers determine when and where they can be productive.

5: Schedule One-on-Ones

Initiating communication while in a different physical space than your supervisor might feel awkward. You never know if you’re interrupting something important or feel like you’re bothering them. The trick here is to schedule a recurring one-on-one session with your boss, even if you have little to discuss.

Schedule a meeting once a week to catch up on work and keep the rapport going. You don’t want to be out of sight and out of mind especially during remote work!

6: Keep Your Supervisor Updated

Make sure you send recurring emails to your supervisors letting them know what you accomplished since the last update and what you hope to accomplish next. This ensures that your accomplishments don’t go unnoticed. and ensures that the expectations are set and that both of you are on the same page moving forward.

7: Maintain a Work/Life Balance

A major risk with remote work is that it confounds boundaries between work time and personal time. In the long term this causes burn out and lowers morale.

If your Manager doesn’t require set hours try to set them yourself and stick to them and create a work environment that isolates you from any distractions. This should help you separate your work-life from your personal time. It is acceptable to work outside your set work hours occasionally to handle a work emergency for example. But make sure to use your down-time to focus on yourself, your family and on your hobbies.

8: Go Home, Even if you’re Home

While at the office upon finishing your work day, you clear your desk, turn off your computer and leave the office for the evening. This simple act of changing the atmosphere helps set your brain for the evening.

working remotely, the distinction between when work starts and ends is blurred. Maintaining a separate wardrobe for remote work helps in making this distinction clearer. You will be surprised how effective the transition from work time to personal time becomes simply by changing your outfit.

9: Speak up if You’re Struggling

If you’re new to working remotely, it can take time to adjust. You may struggle at the beginning and ultimately decide that you’d rather work among your colleagues in a shared setting. Remote work requires extreme focus, independence and reliability.

Give it some time and consider the aforementioned tips which are all essentially ways of making your home-work life more like an office-work life. If you’re feeling left out or burned out, speak up. Keep consistent and transparent communication with your manager to let them know how you’re doing — both professionally and personally. Find what works best for you. When you’re happy – it’ll show in your performance – and being a happy, engaged employee is what your company wants.

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You’re in good company