5 lessons I learned as a first-time remote worker

My company recently transitioned to working remotely full-time in light of Covid-19. Here are five lessons I’ve learned while working from home for the past four weeks.

April 27, 2020
Angelique Parungao

Like a lot of people out there right now, working from home full-time is a new experience for me. Sure — at Eko, we could opt to work from home once a month before, but to suddenly transition to doing it indefinitely in light of Covid-19 took some time to get used to.

Initially, the idea of working remotely seemed like an easy set up. Getting up every morning without having to think of my daily commute and working quietly in the comfort of my own home without distraction sounded pretty straightforward to me.

However, I quickly realized that remote work is not a walk in the park. There were a lot of adjustments that had to happen to ensure that I was equally as productive and engaged in my daily work life as I would be in the office. While I’m still in the learning curve, I thought it’d be helpful for me to share the top five things I’ve learnt in this transition so far for anyone else out there who has also just joined the work from home revolution.

Fighting distraction is hard but doable

You would think that maintaining work-life balance becomes more manageable when you’re working from home. In reality, all those workplace distractions you just got rid of very quickly become replaced by home distractions. With bed, tv and my fridge within arms reach, I have found that it is crucial for me to maintain a work schedule to avoid falling off track. I usually start my day as I would when I go to the office—wake up at the same time, eat breakfast, dress up and get ready for my video calls. Throughout the day, I also make sure I don’t get distracted by house chores while I work. It’s so hard to resist the urge to do laundry or start vacuuming in the middle of the day, so I set up a proper work area where I don’t get to see anything that will take my attention away from work. It helps me get in the zone and work without getting distracted by things I can do after work instead.

It’s crucial to stay on top of your tasks

As my teammates and I started working from different locations, communicating and collaborating with them changed a lot from when we were all in the office. To stay on top of things and ensure tasks didn’t fall behind, we used project management tools to work together in real-time. It helped keep us on-track of our deadlines, clarified who was responsible for which areas, and gave us visibility on progress for various parts of the projects. Not only did this ensure that small tasks didn’t go unnoticed, it boosted visibility and accountability across our individual roles even though we were dispersed.

You don’t have to do it alone

Loneliness is one of the most common problems faced by remote workers everywhere, and after only a week of doing it I began to understand why. However, there are so many ways to combat this and it just takes a little bit of effort from both you and your teammates to keep it in mind. I used instant messages to have an ongoing conversation with my various colleagues throughout the day, whether that was work-related or sometimes not. My team also devoted some days for virtual lunch, dinners and happy hours via video call as a way for us to stay connected with each other beyond work. Having these quick chats and knowing everyone is within reach helped me feel surrounded by my team throughout the entire experience.

Unplug when the workday ends

According to a report done by Owl Labs, those who are working remotely work more than 40 hours per week, which is 43% more than on-site counterparts. While those who work remotely say that they do that because they love what they do, all work and no play can cause stress and burnout. One important lesson I learned from remote work is that it’s OK to disconnect from work once I finish my day. It’s tempting to check work messages beyond work hours or continue to complete tasks because I never really have to “go home”, but all of those things will have dire consequences later on. I’ve learned to set my work hours and make sure to fix my notifications so that I don’t receive them beyond those hours. Our body and mind need to recuperate, and ensuring we stay healthy is crucial to making remote work a success.

Using an intuitive tool helps a lot

Needless to say, all of this would’ve been a lot more challenging if I didn’t have the right tool at hand. Working from home relies a lot on technology, and it’s crucial to be using the right one to make this shift as seamless as possible. As my company transitioned to remote work, I am glad that our platform included all the tools and resources I needed to work effectively in one place. After all, it’s not so much of a transition when you can bring your entire workforce virtually with you to your home.

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