Before I started working remotely, I was slightly uneasy. I was worried about not being productive, feeling isolated, and not having a good space to work from. And, as it turns out, these fears weren’t unique.
And if you work in sales, it can be even harder.
If you’re new to remote work, you might find yourself feeling stir crazy as you acclimate to your new surroundings. However, the transition doesn’t have to be difficult.
So here are some top tips for effective remote working together with a review of best practices for managing a group of remote employees.
8 Tips for Remote Staff
1. Maintain a routine.
When I first started working remotely, I didn’t build a routine. I’d start at different times every day, and usually work late into the night because it was hard to shut off since there was no boundary between work and home. However, that schedule wasn’t sustainable. In fact, I started to feel burned out because I was working too many hours.
There’s often a strange social pull to prove that you’re actually doing your job. It goes without saying that you should have a start time in the morning, the same way you would in the office, but it’s equally important to have a consistent finish time. In some ways, you are your own boss when you’re remote. Get an accountability coach if you need, but make peace putting in 100%, without having to prove you’re doing your job.
Since you don’t have social lunch breaks at home, you have to create your own routine and be rigid about it. For example, get up, get ready, make breakfast, and have start and break times scheduled in advance.
Don’t let the line between work and home get blurred. To make this easier, try using your calendar to block off time when you’re going to take lunch.
2. Have a designated workspace that is non-negotiable.
As we’ve already said, as a remote worker, the boundary between work and home is blurred. That’s why you should have a designated workspace, whether that’s a separate office, or the kitchen table, maintaining a designated workspace can help create the boundary between work and home.
This should help you maintain focus and detach at the end of the day.
If you have a space, make sure to give it some love. Consider painting your office, invest in a sit/stand desk, a comfortable chair, a large monitor, lamps, plants etc. You going to be spending many, many hours in this space so it’s important to be comfortable and also excited to start your day every morning when you walk into your office.
However, if you don’t have a separate space, even putting everything away at night and taking it out in the morning can help create the boundary between work and home.
3. Take breaks.
Typically, working at home means you’ll have less distractions, but whilst this might lead to greater productivity, it can actually make it harder to take a break. At home, you don’t have the built-in break you might have throughout a day in the office. Friends aren’t stopping by asking to grab coffee and it’s unlikely someone from another department is showing up at your desk asking if you have a few minutes to help with something. I typically block off time throughout the day to go for a walk, run, or some other form of excercise. These breaks make me much more mindful of how I’m spending my time and energy throughout the day.
It can be easy to get stuck in the trap of skipping breaks or working through lunch, but this is a quick way to feel burned out in your role. That’s why you need to remember to take breaks and recharge your energy.
4. Be social.
One of the fears of remote work is the feeling of isolation. To combat this, remember to be social during your day. You can still network and chat with colleagues while you’re home. Even just reaching out on Zoom, and scheduling video chats and virtual coffees can help. Talk regularly with your coworkers. Give them a call! It’s okay.
On the other hand, if you don’t have time for a video chat, even sending a Slack or message to chat can be helpful.
5. Send your schedule to any roommates or partners in your house.
Another struggle you might face working from home, is that you might have roommates, partners, kids, or pets in the house. When this happens, it can be easy to get distracted. Plus, if they’re also working from home, it can be hard to coordinate, so if that’s the case, communication is vital.
Make sure you send your schedule to everyone in your house so you can plan who will be working in what spaces. For example, perhaps you want to work in the office, and your roommate will work in the living room. Additionally, let each other know when your meetings are, so your family isn’t making too much noise when you’re on a call.
6. Reach out fast.
When you work remotely, you still have to deal with the regular stresses of your job. When that happens, don’t be afraid to speak up. Although it can be hard to reach out when you need help, you should tell your manager or team as soon as possible. Then, you can get the help and support you need.
7. Dress for success.
Although it can be tempting to work in your leisure wear, it’s not a great idea. The way you dress can greatly impact your mood so get ready for the day. Get up, get showered and dressed just like you’re going to the office. It makes a huge difference in productivity for me. Putting on comfy clothes makes it way too easy for me to lose motivation.
8. Be organised.
Another pitfall of remote work is that it can be hard to manage your own time and stay organised. That’s why you should use your calendar to block off time to complete important tasks.
I recommend a strong focus on both daily organisation, and managing your sales process. To continually advance your tasks, it’s important to stay diligent, whether you’re setting up next-step dates, qualifying questions, or understanding buying expectations.
How to Manage Remote Staff
Similarly to working remotely, managing a remote team isn’t easy, so here are our top tips for managing a remote team:
1. Calendar management is key.
As a remote manager, training and enablement take up extensive time. To combat this, leverage other people in the team to mentor the newly hired staff.
Plus, you should make yourself available as much as possible. Although the days can be long, calendar management is key. Additionally, running each meeting with a structured agenda can help make each meeting as productive as possible.
2. Make time for team get-togethers.
Remote staff don’t have the opportunity to go out to lunch with their teammates, or go out for dinner/drinks after work, so schedule time for online team catch ups and meetings.
3. Build a remote friendly culture.
As a manager, you should try to enable your team to collaborate together and get to know each other. Perhaps you can dedicate a portion of your weekly team meeting to highlight a success story, like Matt does. That individual can then discuss the win (big deal closed, new opportunity created, great in person meeting or presentation, etc).
Additionally, you can also run weekly happy hours online. These meetings will have no agenda, and your team can just talk for an hour. This helps them open up and get to know one another.
4. Don’t forget about enablement, training and collaboration.
Once a month, think about running an hour long review meeting. The team is split into groups and they review some of the work that one member of the team brings to the meeting. They discuss the task, and jot down a takeaway on a shared PowerPoint deck.
Then, the team reconvenes as a group for the last 10-15 minutes, and each team shares their takeaway with the greater group.
This is a great way to run remote friendly enablement and training exercises. Plus, it gives your team the opportunity to collaborate.
Although it can be intimidating when you or your team have to work remotely, it doesn’t have to be a difficult transition. In fact, you can still collaborate, grow, and connect as a group with remote staff.
If you’d like to discuss your own remote working challenges and work on improvements, perhaps we can help.
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