A practical guide for working remotely

Best practices when working from home

It's March 2020 and the coronavirus has officially become a pandemic.

If your work can be done remotely, your company may have asked you to work from home in the next 2 or 3 weeks.

Here is a practical guide on how to efficiently work remotely, based on my experiences.


Set expectations with the people you live with

If you live with other people you should set expectations for this season. They are used to see you at home when you are not working, but that's not the case anymore.

Now you need space, silence (if possible) and a moment without interruptions to do your work at home.

So set the terms and expectations so they can understand that you're not available during work time.


Change your clothing for work

This is very important.

When you have “working clothes” at home you maintain a professional perception.

There is a great article from Fast Company that explains that, so let's move to the next one.


Divide the day in chunks

When I work from home I usually boost my productivity by 100% or more.

Creative and thoughtful work needs a lot of time to get started: the key advantage of working remotely is to be alone with your thoughts.

But this doesn't last for the whole day. Creativity has its short moments, so you need to identify and take advantage of that.

I have my productivity peak on the first 2~3 hours of the day, so here is my routine:

[Complex Work - Hours 0-2] Work on things that require high brain activity. Planning something, solving a complex problem, etc…

[ Check ups - Hours 2-4] Meetings, check-in with my team, check emails, etc …

[ Collaboration Work - Hours 4-8]: Unblock teammates that may be stuck, code review, check metrics, look for unsolved problems from the team, plan features, etc..

So as you can see I don't start my day by reading emails or checking slack, instead, I use those hours (that for me are the best in terms of productivity) to solve complex problems.


Overcommunicate

Now things are a bit different. You were used to getting up and talk to people when stuck or having doubts, now you can't do that.

So you need to overcommunicate using chat and video so everyone can be on the same page.

If you are having trouble explaining something to someone, start a zoom or hangouts with a video chat.

Also, it's a good practice to give status updates somewhere.

For example, if I'm doing a task when the outcome can impact my coworkers, I prefer doing status updates on a Slack channel:

“#status-update starter working on X to solve Y”
”#status-update got blocked with Z on W, can someone give me a hand?”


Define your working hours

Set expectations with your coworkers when you're available and when you're not. Like the people with whom you live, they can get confused about when they can count on you or not.

It's a good practice to give availability updates when you're online and when you're not.

“Good morning, I'm online!”
“Hey guys, I'm out for lunch.”
“Back from lunch!”
“I'm going offline, see you tomorrow”


Have different setups for work and fun

Maybe now you are using the same computer for work and fun. If that's the case, it's mandatory to have different setups so you don't get distracted.

I like to use different Google Chrome users. One is connected to my work email and the second one to my personal account.

This is important because when I'm working I'll see only things related to my work, also only work services are signed in when I'm using that account.


Recap

  • Talk to your roommates and communicate your working hours;

  • Get dressed before start working;

  • Divide your day in chunks;

  • Let your teammates know when you're available;

  • Have a specific setup on your computer for work.

I hope these tips help you with working remotely more efficiently.

What else it's important to remember when working from home? Leave on the comments!