I’ve been working from home for almost 15 years. I’ve learned a lot from trial and error about the best practices for remote work. As we look to reopen businesses, offices and the economy, remote work will likely remain a mainstay. This week, for example, Twitter announced that it will be allowing employees to work from home permanently. Nationwide has done the same.
Here are some “work from home” tips managers can incorporate and encourage in their teams:
1. Develop a routine – especially in the morning
Set a schedule (“I will be at my desk every morning at 8:00”) and stick to it. It’s easy to sleep in, have leisurely breakfasts, or procrastinate your kids’ school work. But science has consistently shown that we can focus better in the mornings; this feeling peaks around noon. Exercising before work also helps. Morning is also the best time for connecting with clients and colleagues: Researchers who studied more than 26,500 earnings calls found that, generally, the tone became more negative as the workday wore on.
2. Set small goals and reward yourself
For example, “I’m going to finish this project by noon, and then I will take a 30 minute break to go for a run.” Other rewards could be having a snack, reading the newspaper, watching a brief video, or spending time with family.
3. Communicate with everyone in your home
Especially if you have young children and a working spouse, it’s essential to coordinate call times, quiet times and meal times. Spouses will have to coordinate childcare with each other. Sharing a common calendar is a great way to schedule who cares for kids and when. Holding a brief nightly or pre-work meeting with your spouse to discuss practical planning is also helpful.
4. Over-communicate with your colleagues
A real conversation is always better than a text, an email or an online chat. If you have to talk to a team member, pick up the phone or set up a video call. Face-to-face conversations are better for discussing serious topics, building a connection with a new colleague or client, or fielding a lot of questions. A Harvard Business Review study found that face-to-face requests were 34 times more likely to garner positive responses than the emails.
5. Take breaks
This is so important it needs to be said twice: Take breaks. Breaks increase productivity and creativity. Specifically, research has found that “the ideal work rhythm was 52 minutes of work time followed by a 17-minute break,” according to Inc. The best breaks if you’re sitting at a computer for work are ones that incorporate physical movement. I take my dog for a walk around the neighborhood at least once during the workday.
6. Have a dedicated workspace
Not everyone has the luxury of having a home office, but I’ve seen friends, clients and colleagues set aside their own “working closet,” basement space, or dining room space. Others have been working from their porches. Working from the same place every day – especially in a place where you can have quiet, uninterrupted time – is critical to developing a productive rhythm.
Managers should have open discussions about these practices with their teams and lead by example. The pressure to always be available and working can be strong when working from home. Be open about what works for you so others feel comfortable incorporating these strategies as well.
About the Author: As the Chief Executive Officer of Titanhouse, Mike Levy is responsible for the overall strategy as well as daily operations.
Prior to TitanHouse, Mike was the Chief Revenue Officer at RainKing Solutions where he was responsible for the client-facing business. As one of the original investors and members of the executive team, Mike helped build and guide RainKing from beta to two very successful PE exits. Prior to RainKing, Mike was a Vice President of Sales for Ipreo.