The aftermath of Covid-19 highlighted an undeniable truth: remote work is here to stay. When I think back to the moments right before the world went into lockdown, I remember facing a tough choice. I decided to leave my job to pursue my PhD. A wave of anxiety washed over me the day I quit my job. My mind raced with all sorts of uncertainties: Here I was, navigating my way through my very first global pandemic, and on top of that, I was taking a leap of faith to pursue something I wasn’t even sure I could pull off. It was a difficult time, to say the least.
As time went on and I progressed further into my program, I realized something powerful: I was actually a lot more productive. Working from my home office was a game-changer. My peaceful environment allowed me to minimize distractions and maintain my focus. I noticed I could remain in a state of flow throughout most of my day. Here’s a fun fact: It takes around 23 minutes to get back into the flow when our focus gets interrupted. Now, think about how often we are interrupted on a typical day at the office!
Speaking of the office – Not only has remote work streamlined overhead costs for many businesses, but it’s also cultivated an avenue for connecting with a broader, more diverse talent pool. I’m sure you’ve already recognized the advantages of remote work, but making it successful requires some thought and preparation. That’s why I’ve outlined three essential best practices to steer you toward thriving in a remote work environment.
Three Best Practices to Thrive in a Remote Work Environment
1) Make Your Expectations Clear:
When I think back to my PhD program, Dr. Bostaine did an excellent job communicating her expectations for the virtual term. Since it was her first time teaching remotely, she dedicated an extra hour to outline the syllabus and answer any questions. By the end of the lecture, each student understood their roles, responsibilities, and key objectives for the term. She also provided different ways to contact her if anyone needed help. When expectations are crystal clear, it becomes easier for team members to deliver their best work.
Set the Stage – Here’s a challenge to help you make your expectations abundantly clear to your team. Consider this: remote work introduces new dynamics; your team needs a well-defined roadmap to navigate this terrain effectively. Create a comprehensive outline of roles, responsibilities, and project specifics. Be deliberate about setting SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Remember, the foundation of a productive remote work environment is built on clarity.
2) Make Your Communication Clear:
Staying indoors during those times really drove home a lesson: communication is like a lifeline for our well-being. When I suddenly couldn’t be physically close, virtual communication became my saving grace. It reminded me that I was still part of a community, even when we were miles apart. It’s like how my professor went that extra mile to lay out the syllabus and answer questions at the start of the term. Effective communication demands the same level of intentionality. For me, those regular check-ins and status updates became a lifeline. It was more than just updating progress; it was about ensuring we were all aligned. And surprisingly, it created a sense of belonging that’s sometimes tricky to nurture in a remote setup.
Intentional Communication –Set aside just a few minutes each day to ensure your messages are sent and received loud and clear. Start by simplifying your language. Can they still follow along? Next, experiment with different communication channels. Not every message needs to be an email. Maybe a quick video update or a concise chat message could work better. This challenge isn’t just about clarity—it’s about building connections and fostering understanding.
3) Make Your Team:
Remember how I took the leap into my PhD program? My experience during that transition taught me something valuable: the significance of fostering a sense of connection. In this world of remote work, where we can’t count on physical closeness, intentionally creating opportunities for social bonds becomes the cornerstone of success. Think about it—virtual coffee breaks, team-building activities, and online hangouts. They’re more than just fun (though that’s a great part). They’re about constructing a supportive network that weaves us together, even miles apart. In the realm of remote work, this kind of camaraderie isn’t just a bonus—it’s a key ingredient for thriving.
Remote Fun – Here’s a challenge that can truly transform your remote work experience: dedicate a week to enhancing connections within your team, all from the comfort of your virtual space. Choose a day to have a virtual lunch gathering. Share your mealtime virtually, just like you would in the office cafeteria. It’s a simple way to replicate the social aspect of lunch breaks and have casual conversations beyond work-related topics.
Ultimately, the recipe for thriving in the remote work landscape lies in three practices—clear expectations, effective communication, and fostering connections. As you navigate these paths, remember that the remote work experience shouldn’t be isolated. It can be a realm of camaraderie, productivity, and shared accomplishments.