Working remotely: Tips on staying productive

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Being effective while working remotely

Most of us are used to being in offices which are set up for work and team interactions that nudge us toward productivity.  Remote worksites, such as our homes, often are not set up in the same way.  So, how do we stay productive when working remotely so that we continue to produce quality work, meet deadlines, and make the best use of our resources?  Often, it means doing many of the same things we do when we are in the office. When working remotely, however, these may require extra effort, discipline, and creativity.  We have put together some approaches that could be useful. Discuss these and other approaches to organizing your work with your manager and team to find solutions that best fit the direction set by your organization and the needs of your role. 

Huddle

Take 15 minutes to connect with your team for a virtual huddle each morning to set the stage for a productive day. Consider doing a roundtable where each person rapidly answers:

  • what I did yesterday (or the last day of work)
    • e.g., finalized draft memo, processed 15 applications, finished presentation
  • what I will do today
    • e.g., revise invitation email, send out nomination forms, assess selection criteria
  • what I need from my team
    • e.g., feedback on a proposal, data for a report, approval of a draft memo

Plan

Organize your workflow as you start your day. This will help you keep focused on your goals and be less distracted:

  • update context
    • do an initial check of emails, messages, your calendar, and notes from the huddle.
  • identify tasks
    • break your work down into clear action items, e.g., draft mind map, assemble mailing list, draft cover email, and send to mailing list, so that you know exactly what you need to do.
  • prioritize and schedule tasks
    • commit to the order in which you will do tasks and/or set up a timetable of when you will do them.
  • build in balance
    • make time for breaks and lunch, integrate personal and family commitments as needed, and reward yourself for accomplishing key tasks, e.g., by going for a walk, having a coffee or a cup of tea.

Do

Having huddled and planned, you are now ready to work. To stay productive throughout the day:

  • unhook
    • disconnect from email and messages so you can focus on your tasks but leave your phone on in case someone urgently needs to reach you
  • stay flexible
    • accept that plans might need to change, keeping your manager and teammates informed of challenges and developments
  • meet virtually
    • take the time to connect with colleagues regularly and for meetings, set up an agenda that poses the questions that need to be answered
  • keep on track
    • at the end of your day, take stock of what you’ve accomplished and of what you need to do tomorrow, preparing you for the next huddle

Huddle, plan, do, and repeat!

Level-up

Take the time to find out more about how to be and stay productive when working remotely.

Visit the Busrides’ Going Remote Guide for more ideas.

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