Working remotely? Check these tips for remote work (kids included)
By Marta Alegria, Talent Engagement Manager @Xpand IT
Being part of the human resources team, I focus daily on our employees and their well-being.
If this situation is frightening and uncertain for all of us when we are at the service of other, with whom we have bonded every day, even more worrying it becomes because we want them to be well and productive.
To contribute in overcoming specific difficulties and turning this period into a more positive experience, me and my team prepared some practical tips to guarantee that every Xpander takes the best out of this mandatory remote work situation.
These tips for remote work might be useful to you as well, whether you’re a worker or a student since we are all forced to stay at home. At least these tips have been working for me, and I thought it was going to be a lot harder, considering I have to juggle my attention between remote meetings, focus work, two children and house chores.
Part I — Overall recommendations to get more done while working from home
1- Establish a work routine and respect your schedule
Working from home can easily put us on a sloppy route and also be an invitation to distraction. To guarantee productivity and also uplifted spirit, make sure you follow a structured schedule and maintain the day-to-day routines, such as getting dressed and not working in your pyjamas, keeping up with your meal breaks and other habits. It is important that you take time to realize and try what better fits your needs, making adjustments to your daily routine along the way.
2 — Have a daily list of results
To ensure that you end your day with a peaceful feeling and a sense of mission accomplished, make sure to define early in the morning which goals you want to achieve by the end of the day. Although you will carry out many tasks, these macro results must be the most important ones, that is, only 2 or 3. This way, you will truly feel accomplished.
3 — Create an appropriate work environment
It’s crucial that the room where you will spend so many hours working is suitable and provides the right conditions for us to experience comfort and focus. If you don’t have already a home office, make sure you set up a comfortable space, avoiding working in bed or on the sofa. It might help if your working space is not the same where you take breaks, relax, or have leisure activities.
4 — Work by blocks of time and take breaks
A good time management strategy that you can try doing is defining blocks of time dedicated to tasks of the same type and considering some breaks between these blocks to make the mental shift and refocus. It’s like being at our offices. We need to take breaks so that we feel good and work better.
5 — Communicate with your partner
If you live with someone and have the need to share the same workspace, you must communicate how your day will be like so you’re both on the same page with your expectations and needs.
For example, if you have an important call and need some quiet environment or if you are under a pressing deadline and need to focus… let them know so that they can be helpful. For sure, there will be moments where you’ll also need to be supportive of your partner or family member. Take the time to balance your mutual needs and keep up with positive communication with each other.
6 — Keep in touch with colleagues and managers
We may be physically isolated, but that does not prevent us from maintaining direct and regular contact with our colleagues and managers. Thankfully we have fantastic tools at our disposal! Microsoft Teams is already part of our everyday life at Xpand IT promoting a collaborative and agile working culture whether you want to chat with your team, share a document, engage with your colleagues or make a video call meeting.
Make sure that you and your team are fully aligned and aware of your home circumstances, assigned work, feelings, needs, and expectations. Again: communicate, communicate, communicate, share, share, share. Trust, trust, trust.
7 — Use the extra time to your advantage
Since we no longer have to commute, it’s a good idea to use the extra time to do something that boosts our health and personal balance. How long have you been trying to meditate? And how many books are unread on your bedside? How about doing some morning stretches to start the day with more elasticity? If there’s one thing amazing about the internet, is the amount and diversity of resources and videos that you can find to help you stay active and health. Go get them!
Part II — Here are some tips on how to balance your desire to be productive and also to be there for your kids
1 — Use Naptime to Your Advantage
Start working early in the morning while your kids are still asleep, make use of some time after putting them to bed at night and take advantage of the nap. This way, you won’t feel so stressed when feeling the need to take a break from work to play during their waking moments.
2 — Set up a “workspace” for your children
Prepare a desk that’s just their size and stock it with different materials to keep them entertained. This will buy you a few hours each day because they will have a lot of different things to do and it makes your kids feel important.
3 — Define a schedule for your children
Just as it is vital to set up a schedule to ensure good routines and productivity for yourself, it is also useful to have a specific plan with different activities for your children to do throughout the day. You can decide the number of hours they can spend watching TV or playing video games; you can define a specific period for reading, for creative work and even for learning new things (topics related to school or others). Take advantage of platforms like the Khan Academy and others that are excellent assistants.
4 — Allow for close proximity
If you think it’s possible, make sure to work close to where your children are playing or allow them to play in your office space. As you know, kids demand constant attention, and besides, they always like being able to see you (and admire you working).
5 – Have a bottle ready
If you have a baby, it’s useful to have a bottle prepared before starting a meeting. This way, even if your baby awakes mid-meeting, you will have that life-saver to distract and appease him. If you have toddlers or young kids, prepare snacks that you think they can eat/drink during the day so that they can be more autonomous.
6 — Leave your phone on your desk
When you decide to take a break and spend some time with your family, try leaving your phone out of reach so that you can focus on them and on what you are doing together.
7 — Rotate toys and create a ‘boredom box’
You can prepare a roulette wheel to find out what game they are going to play, keeping the constant novelty and motivation to discover and play alone. Another idea is to have prepared a craft box filled with things like construction paper, pom poms, glue, scissors, glitter, straws, popsicle sticks, a stamp set, plastic jewels, googly eyes, foam circles, watercolour paints, plastic cups, buttons, stickers, bubble wrap, beads, balloons, feathers, tissue paper, etc (select the items carefully, in accordance to the age of your kids).
8 — Take the pressure off!
If things don’t work out exactly as you had planned, instead of stressing out, focus on your kids and plan to catch up on work after bed or on the following day. Allow yourself to do something meaningful or fun with them and establish the right balance to focus afterwards. Here it is crucial that you talk to your manager or team, sharing your needs.
9 — Mindfully Enjoy!
To work remotely is such a unique opportunity to focus on yourself, your health and your family. Enjoy each day, the little moments with your children and keep up a good spirit.