Somewhere between the bed and the kitchen, is your workday.
It doesn’t matter if your remote working life is filled with comfy clothes or crying kids (or both), working remotely can be tough. Lucky for you, our team at Virtual Internships has plenty of experience to equip you with the tips necessary to be sane and successful while working remotely!
Those of us who remember the BBC journalist reporting from North Korea when his children escaped their nanny will remember what a distraction that proved to both the journalist and the listener! Whether you have loud pets, other chores to complete, or a messy house, the point is to keep your “workspace” free from distractions (which can be much harder to do if you’re remote).
We’re not all naturals in front of the camera and it can be a bit daunting, but technology is evolving at such a rapid pace that we need to get used to using it and being comfortable doing so. It is important to fully utilise all facets of tech that can replicate live-work interactions closely – whether cameras for video calling or interactive whiteboards for group brainstorming.
Remember to disconnect
Working remotely will inevitably mean more time in front of a screen, on the phone, or using a tablet. Remember to work intensely, finish something, then pause and walk away. Use this time to get some fresh air or a coffee, then when the end of the day comes, switch off all work communications where possible.
Your colleagues are still your colleagues outside of your traditional office space. When starting your day (if time-difference allows), check-in with your colleagues as much as you would when you arrive in the office. It breaks the ice, shows you’re approachable, and helps keep everyone on track and on the same wavelength.
The importance of empathy
Remember to think about what’s going on where your coworkers are, or take time to ask. Whether it’s related to news-specific events, thinking about a cultural/religious celebration, or a different weather zone, some curiosity about their surroundings (and possibly volunteering some information about your surroundings) will help to break down those communication barriers.
Pro-Tip: Don’t forget to ask what the weekend holds in store!
Use video calls to get comfortable and confident (even if it is awkward at first)
Remember greetings and taking the initiative can make everyone feel more at ease! E.g: “how about we say Hi with video on, and then we can turn off the camera to preserve bandwidth.”
Personalize your space and cultivate an environment that you enjoy working in. Try a houseplant or a nice desk lamp (or both) to make your workspace feel comfortable. Your workspace can make a huge difference in your productivity.
Work on staying in touch with coworkers and your manager – even if it might take a bit more coordination than if you were in the office. You can do this by setting up one-on-one meetings or by checking in. Learn which technology platforms are best for the communication that’s needed. For example, quick questions are great for chat platforms while video calls are useful for much more in-depth conversations and clarification.
Work on time-management
Recognise how you work best, as each person has their own style of organization, prioritization, and execution of tasks and projects. Is your preferred method setting aside one-hour blocks for several tasks, or working on one until it is complete? There are so many ways to master time-management, so find the methods that work best for you!
Be professional and prepared
Make sure you have good technology and a reliable internet connection. It is also important to have a good backdrop for your video calls. Natural lighting is great, but if you’re going into a long call consider if the sun is going to move across your face or shine in your eyes. Also, try to minimize background noise where possible (and consider muting yourself when you’re not the one speaking). Think in advance about how you present yourself virtually and in a professional manner.
Consider the words of our Director Rachael Criso, “Remote work offers amazing flexibility. If you concentrate on the positive aspects–and ensure you provide the work expected of you on time, presented in a clear and engaging way–you can maximize your time and design your own unique work-life balance.”
Tips from Virtual Internships Partners Matthew Barton, Rachael Criso, and Ed Holroyd Pearce