Staying Effective While Working Remotely During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Learn how to stay productive while teleworking.
In an attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), professionals around the world are heeding social-distancing orders and moving the workday from their offices to their homes. Some may like the idea of trading slacks for sweatpants. However, the reality of working remotely has left many teleworking novices wondering how to stay productive in an environment that can be filled with distractions.
With a little planning, creativity, and self-discipline, you can be just as effective working remotely as you are in the office. Dr. Russell Darnall, a core faculty member in the MS in Project Management online degree program at Walden University, offers these eight tips for working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Develop a routine.
When you’re at the office, you have a built-in routine for accomplishing work. Now that you’re at home, it’s still important to stick to a routine for accomplishing your work. A routine can help establish a work process that is consistent with your working style and helps you better manage the additional pressures, demands and distractions of a home environment.
Also, set a schedule so people know when they can reach you. Be sure to build in some personal time to take care of your needs. The more predictable you are, the more trust you will create with co-workers.
Create a workspace that works for you.
Your workspace at home should be conducive to your work style and provide an environment in which you can be productive and effective. A dedicated home office is ideal. If this is not practical, establish a workspace that can be used only for your work during certain periods of time. This might require some negotiating with others who live in your home.
Invest in appropriate technology.
Most jobs require communicating with teams and other stakeholders. Of course, a good internet connection is a fundamental requirement for most remote jobs.
Different channels of communication can help you communicate more effectively with stakeholders and teams. Consider communication software—such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Skype. If you are frequently on your phone or videoconferencing, think about using a headset, which can be more comfortable and help eliminate background noises.
When using Zoom or other videoconferencing software for meetings, many of us have a tendency to block our video because seeing ourselves on the screen in real time can feel uncomfortable. However, it’s important to use the video capability because this visual aspect creates more human-to-human interaction. The more personal you are, the easier it is to create trust.
Many of us receive hundreds of e-mail messages each day. Some messages need careful consideration, some are just reminders, and some messages are deleted without reading. When you communicate, especially over e-mail, put your most important points at the beginning of your message and in the subject line. Try to frame your message so that the person receiving it can quickly determine the content, urgency, call to action, and importance of the message.
Remember, e-mail isn’t the only way to communicate when working remotely. Use different communication channels, like chat and messenger tools, video meetings, and even the old-fashioned phone call. In each instance, think about the best method for communicating your message with the person or people on the other end.
Respond promptly to all correspondence.
In the remote working environment, it is more difficult to determine if everyone is aligned on goals and actions. Your team needs to know whether you received the information and if you will take action. If they don’t hear from you, your co-workers can’t assume you have everything you need to move forward. Most of the time a simple message such as “I got it” or “it will be done by Friday” is sufficient.
Take care of yourself.
It’s important to take scheduled breaks throughout your workday. Set an alarm and stretch. Keep the coffee pot in a different room or on another level of your house so you have to walk away from your workspace to get a cup of coffee. Also, remember to use proper ergonomics. The wrong chair or wrong working position can cause short-term pain and even long-term physical issues.
Take care of others.
In a remote working environment, we have fewer cues about what people are thinking and feeling. Sending positive messages and feedback regularly to your team can be helpful, and for some people, it is critical. A simple “thank you” can be very powerful. Ask if you can help. People very seldom request help, but they always appreciate being asked.
Learn More Project Management Tools—Earn a Master’s Degree Online
Strong project management skills are an advantage in many organizations, whether you’re working remotely or in the office. If you’re interested in enhancing your skill set and career opportunities, consider earning a master’s in project management.
Walden’s MS in Project Management online program is a great choice if you want the flexibility of an online learning format. Through this project management master’s programv, you can learn the leadership skills and technical project management tools needed to head up projects and diverse teams in your organization.
Dr. Darnall is a member of the Walden faculty and teaches in the online master’s program in project management. He is a Certified Professional in Project Management (PMP) with over 15 years of industry experience managing large complex projects. A published project management expert, Dr. Darnall has held leadership roles on projects in the United States, Canada, Ireland, India, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Project Management degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in an engaging, accessible online environment.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.