Working from home can be great from several points of view, but it can also impact your productivity, or even take you down a spiral of loneliness. Whether you’ve just started on this new journey or you’ve been doing it for some time and are just getting a tad lonely, there are several ways to make it work! And communication is the key to them all!
In this article, we’ll share with you a comprehensive list of best practices for working from home to fight loneliness, improve your online communication skills, and work on your mindset. So if you’re new to the world of remote work, read on!
1. Lead the Way With Communication
One way of improving your work relationships and helping overcome the downsides of working remotely comes with encouraging people to talk. Be the one who sets the tone. Encourage your team to chat and discuss with each other (about work, but not limited to that).
Think about this:
When you work remotely it’s really easy to avoid those uncomfortable disagreements, that would normally come and pass in an office setting. But once small disagreements grow, trust eventually diminishes, so it’s important to pay attention.
Weekly Monday Jam
If you’re looking for a smooth way to touch base with your team and ensure a weekly communication, you can start with a Weekly Monday Jam. This way, you can discuss the most important upcoming activities and find out if you need to reorganize things.
Put aside the first 10-15 minutes of your call for an informal catch up: morning coffee with the rest of the team and sharing the previous weekend’s highlights. Always remember that people need to create connections and sharing experiences is a lovely way of getting closer, even if done online.
2. Daily Round-Up Call
If you’re leading a team working virtually, you should never underestimate the power of a daily round-up call. Regular communication between employees and managers has long been proved to help develop efficient teams and build trust. It also reduces the feeling of competition, so people can work better together to achieve a common goal.
These video calls will also foster a sense of team spirit, fight loneliness, and can represent a great opportunity to get a glimpse at how people are feeling.
Where Will You “Meet”
First of all, choose the best platform, depending on your needs. There are many available options and we’ve got you covered with a full list of tools you might need to get things done remotely.
Check Progress and Reiterate Goals
During this call, you should reiterate the team’s broader goals and touch base with everyone, regarding the status of their ongoing projects. Think about this: in a face-to-face setting people can ask for feedback in a matter of seconds. When working remotely, these daily catch-ups can be your way of making sure that everyone’s on track, as well as discover any challenges that might arise in due time.
Small Talk Matters
Try to always bear in mind your team’s top priorities, but also find ways to make your daily round-up friendlier. Encourage the small talk and lighten up the mood. In our hyper-productivity driven society, these informal chats create a real team feeling for each of the individuals.
3. Schedule Regular Breaks
It’s extremely important to schedule breaks in your daily routine if you’re working from home. One way to schedule your breaks is by using the Pomodoro technique. There are plenty of apps that provide online times based on this working method. You can try Focus To-Do: Pomodoro Timer & To Do List. It has a free version and it’s also good for prioritising tasks.
One Pomodoro, Break, Two Pomodoros, Break
Break your workday into 25-minute chunks with five-minute breaks in between. These intervals are referred to as “Pomodoros”. After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.
This break could mean having a cup of tea, having a virtual lunch with some other teammates, or simply going out to your backyard and enjoying the sun.
It’s important to mention here that a lack of vitamin D can actually lead to feelings of loneliness, and depression. So this daily dose of vitamin D is critically important to your overall well being. Make sure you include some sunlight in your breaks!
4. Communicate Clearly and Offer Feedback
As Jeremey Duvall of Automattic was saying: “In many ways, communication is the lifeblood of an organization.” When working from home, you’ll need to pay extra attention to how you communicate in writing, regardless of your role, but even more so if you’re a team leader/manager.
Give some thought to the messages you’re sending. You’ll need to pay attention to:
- The structure of your content: bullet-points can help with that.
- Keep it short, sweet, and simple: nobody enjoys those novel type emails.
- The level of detail you provide: think about what information is necessary for the other person to understand clearly, but not get lost in the details.
- How your words could be interpreted: written communication requires extra attention, as soft-cues that work great in face to face, might be misinterpreted online.
- Be open and transparent about your work: task lists are a great way to show both your progress and your team’s.
Feedback Brings Progress
Ask and offer feedback: feedback becomes even more important when working remotely. Try to look at the tone of your message and to refer to specific things when giving feedback.
On the other hand, feel free to ask for feedback from your colleagues. Receiving constructive feedback will allow you to better evaluate yourself, plus you’ll know what skills you might need to further develop.
Sharing praise is also a great form of feedback known to be a great motivator and essential for building team spirit, so never hold back from dropping a note to a colleague/collaborator who has been of great help.
Whether the results are individual or as part of a group project, people working remotely need to feel they’re appreciated, just as much as anyone else. Think about ways to highlight the best practices or results and communicate them either through a team call all a thank you mail.
5. Find the Right Tools to Support Communication
There are several virtual collaboration tools, like Slack, that can help you overcome the distance barrier and provide the social component. These are great to start social channels and engage employees. They also offer both group chat functions as well as 1-2-1 direct messaging.
Google offers a range of collaboration tools too, like Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides and more. This means more people can work together on the same document, allowing you to track each other’s progress and help one another get the job done.
If you need more options, check out our recent blog post that includes a list of remote working tools to make your work life easier. We’ve got them split by categories, covering communication, productivity, and many more.
6. Master a New Skill
Got some extra time on your hands? Learning a skill is one of the best ways to beat loneliness. If you choose a group course, you will be in a virtual classroom, and you’ll learn a skill you enjoy. There are plenty of options so just browse online and find the one that best suits your needs.
We’d recommend going to a website like Coursera or UDemy and picking a course that will help you learn new skills or refine those skills you need to be an expert at your job. While you may not be in a classroom environment, you’ll develop a new skill, and having a new routine will help improve your overall state of mind.
7. Join a Facebook or a Virtual Co-working Group
If you’re working from home and get stuck, one of the best ways to overcome it is to leverage an online community of people who’re in the same boat as you.
You should be able to just post a note or comment, and get responses from a large community of like-minded folks. So for instance, if you’re a freelance copywriter, you should consider joining a high-quality Whatsapp group or Facebook group to interact with others like you. Just run a Facebook search for Copywriter groups, join a few and then see where the action is.
Just like you can join a coworking space offline by leasing out an office space, or desk, you can also join a virtual co-working group.
You’ll be in a virtual room with other people who’re doing their work while you’re doing yours. You can communicate or chat with them while you’re working, through the chat functionality or via video, and schedule some time for common breaks with your virtual mates.
In case you don’t feel comfortable about joining a group with people you don’t know, you can start your own with a remote colleague.
How does this work?
It couldn’t be more simple: you’ll just need to schedule some work calls/chats. You’ll each be working for 25 minutes straight (you decide together the length of a sprint) and then enjoy your break together. This will help increase your productivity and fight loneliness. Want to find more productivity tips for working remotely? Check out this blog post.
Put a Smile On and Give it a Try
A lot of people work from home, and if you’re just starting out, it might feel tough at times. At the end of the day though, the most important thing to know is that having a routine, improving your communication with your colleagues, and sometimes even opening up can help you fight stress, reduce the feeling of loneliness, and even achieve better results.
What is your recipe for making the best out of working remotely?