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First Time Working Remotely? Here’s How to Ease Into It

Remote work may become the new normal for many employees in the coming months as a precaution against the coronavirus. If you already work remotely and have been doing so for some time, you’re probably accustomed to the process. Those that have not worked remotely before, however, may be a bit hesitant on what to do next.

The good news is that most workplaces are establishing guidelines and plans for how employees may adjust to working remotely. Ready to ease into working from home, whether it’s on a temporary or slightly more long-term basis? Here’s what you need to do to transition into becoming a telecommuter:

Meet with your team beforehand

If your request to work remotely was accepted, it’s important that you meet with your team and create a contingency plan before exiting the office. A few items to talk about may include:

Equipment. Depending on your line of work, you may need more than a work laptop to do your job. Even said laptop or desktop computer may need to be outfitted with programs specific to your line of work. Check in to see what kind of equipment your organization can provide you with to use remotely.
Technology. Make sure you have all of the proper tech tools that allow you to effectively communicate with your team. A few programs you should have include Google Drive and Dropbox for storing files, messaging platforms like Slack, Evernote for taking notes, and videoconferencing and call taking through Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Additionally, make sure there are other ways for people to get in touch with you beyond tech tools and email.
Time clocks. Do you clock into work each day with a physical time clock in your office? Discuss with the team, or your manager, how you will be able to keep employee records of your working hours while working remotely.
Wi-Fi connection. If your home connection is currently slower than it is at work, see if you can switch to a faster internet provider. Let your employer know if this is a significant issue and see if there are any ways they may be able to assist.

Create a space in your home to work from

All veteran remote workers will tell you that you can’t, and should never, set up camp in your bed while working from home. You’ll need a designated space for a home office. This may be a separate room in your home, or a nice desk with a good chair if you reside in a smaller studio space.

The space you work from should have minimal distractions. If you live on a busy street, keep your window closed to minimize excessive noise. Put on headphones to better focus on the task at hand. Your desk should also be organized and tidy — treat it as you would your traditional work desk.

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Get into a set schedule

You may be working remotely, but you’re not a freelancer or entrepreneur. Most employees that work remotely do not get to set their own hours and work whenever they like. You’re still expected to be “on” at a certain time with a few breaks in between and a clock-out time.

Try to recreate the patterns and habits you have from your traditional office job. Make a to-do list to prioritize and organize items that need to be completed. Communicate with other fellow employees throughout the day via Slack or other messaging apps. Share your schedule with your team members as well. If you’re in the middle of a project and want to minimize interruptions, encourage employees who reach out with questions for you to schedule in a time to chat through online calendars such as those available through G Suite.

Dress the part

Working remotely? Don’t wear your pajamas all day. Instead, get dressed in your typical business casual wear. You may dial down certain elements of your look, like wearing flats instead of heels. Make sure your outfit is clean, well-fitting, and professional if you need to take a video conference call.

Add creature comforts to your remote workspace

You may be working remotely for a week or two, or perhaps a little while longer. Think about your traditional work desk and the items you keep on it to make it cheerful. Add a small plant to your desk, a Himalayan salt lamp to brighten your spirits, a calendar and physical planner to take notes in, and any framed photos of family members and loved ones.

If you’re new to remote work and are a little nervous about the process, these little comforts go a long way in keeping you grounded and focused on the bigger picture at hand.

RELATED: 13 Ways to Stay Focused When Working From Home 

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