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The coronavirus pandemic has transformed the way many of us live and work. Making the transition to working from home comes with its share of challenges, so I’ve asked some of the veteran remote employees at my company, Canto, to share their best tips for making remote work productive and rewarding.

 

Communicate and set boundaries at home

If you share a home – and now a workspace – with family, partners, children or roommates who must also stay home from school and work, it’s important to communicate when you have meetings or need quiet time. This helps you focus during work hours and avoid potential distractions.

“Tell the people you live with when you have meetings or are not available, so they know they need to be a little quieter,” says Alain Defrasne, our manager of product support based in Marseille, France.

“The most important thing is to communicate with those living with you. Clarifying each others’ expectations, setting boundaries and being patient will go a long way for keeping stress levels low and mutual understanding high, which in turn allows you to focus and work better in your home environment,” says Leslie Weller, our director of product marketing based in San Diego, CA.

Set aside a space just for work

It’s tempting to work from your bed or couch but having a space that cues you to get into ‘the zone’ can help you be more productive and help establish boundaries between life and work.

“Having a dedicated spot that signals to others in your home ‘I’m at work now’ is helpful. This could be a certain place at the kitchen table or closing your bedroom door, or even a dedicated home office. I’m not in my work space 100% of the time, but I get all my focus work done there,” says Leslie.

“If possible, find a location to work where you can close the door. It can help you concentrate or have quiet time to focus when needed,” says Alain.

Stay connected with your colleagues

Our colleagues play a big part in our job satisfaction and a healthy work environment. Now that we can’t go on coffee runs or grab lunch together, it’s important to find new ways to connect with our teammates.

“Slack, Zoom, Skype, Email. Stay connected to colleagues. Every job will have different frequency needs for how often you need to virtually meet. Staying in contact will keep you aligned and working together,” says Leslie.

Communication is paramount now – make sure your colleagues know your availability and how to get in touch with you. It’s also critical for teams to talk about how their projects affect each other to help collaboration go more smoothly.

“The most important thing is to maintain good communication. Your team should always know what you are working on when it affects them and vice versa you need to know what your team is working on when it affects you,” says Peg Pfeifer, our web developer based in Berlin. “By the way, a little humour always helps. Don't forget to laugh together in between!”

The company and individual teams are still having meetings and even happy hours over video conferencing to keep that sense of camaraderie alive. We even celebrated a birthday over Zoom!

We’ve also been proud to see that Canto has become essential for our customers as they transition to remote work. It’s a difficult and uncertain time for all businesses and we are happy to help our customers adjust to this situation.

A woman working at a laptop with Canto's platform onscreen.
 
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Plan out each day

It can be more difficult to stay focused when working from home, so setting priorities or goals for each day can help you stay on track and motivated throughout the day.

“Set 3 priorities to focus on for the day. Since you are mostly alone all day when working from home, it’s important to be better organised,” says Alain.

Have a consistent routine

Waking up and going to bed at the same time every day, despite having the ability to be more flexible with your schedule, can help your body and mind adjust and regulate stress. In turn, this will help you be more energised and productive throughout the day.

“Brush your teeth, do your morning routine, and get dressed,” says Jonathan Laylo, one of our sales development representatives based in Seattle.

Take breaks throughout the day

Studies have shown that employees who work remotely often end up working longer hours. Now that many countries are encouraging or mandating people to stay in their homes, it’s likely that we will find ourselves dedicating more time to our work.

As businesses navigate this unprecedented situation, demands may grow as well. Work can give us a sense of purpose in an otherwise uncertain time, but it’s also important to make time to take care about ourselves to avoid burnout.

“Remember to take regular breaks. To be honest, I tell myself this every day and it comes back to me after I've programmed six or seven hours in a row. There are useful apps that pop up on the screen after certain times and remind you to take a break. Ten minutes off-screen can often help and exercise is also good in between – just take out the bins or unload the dishwasher. If you take a longer break, change your status so that your team knows that you are not available now,” says Peg.

Peg also recommends using dark mode settings on your computer to avoid tiring out your eyes if you look at screens all day.

On behalf of the Canto team, we wish you the best of luck in adjusting to remote work, and hope you and your loved ones keep safe.

Cat Chiang is a content marketing specialist at Canto