If you were thrust into working remotely due to the pandemic, you may be surprised to learn that what you are doing may not actually be working remotely.
In fact, what most of the world has been doing is simply surviving by following a quickly compiled contingency plan. As Laurel Farrer explained on a recent episode of Formstack’s Ripple Effect podcast:
This statement may come as a shock or surprise to some people. Most of us would consider what we’ve been doing day in and day out for the past year as working remotely. But that’s not quite true.
As the world begins to open back up, we will begin to see more organizations shifting to a truly remote work environment. You will see companies roll out policies, procedures, and practices that are not placeholders for the moment, but long-term remote work strategies to ensure culture, productivity, and employee happiness do not suffer.
If your organization is making the shift to remote work permanently, Formstack employees are here to help. As a remote-first company since 2012, Stackers have years of experience traversing the world of remote work. Discover best practices, tips, and tricks on how to make working remotely as productive, enjoyable, and fulfilling as possible.
10 Tips for Remote Working
The employees below have an average of 13 years of remote work under their belt! They provide tried-and-true tips for remote working that are bound to help you make smart, strategic decisions on how to build your best workday.
Did you know? Formstack’s first remote employee was Andrew Ruszkowski, who lives in Poland! Our original remotie is still part of Formstack, serving as our Director of Engineering. Learn more about our remote-first culture here.
1. Make time for being social and having fun.
“Being remote is hard. Like other social relationships, you have to put in more and expect less out for it to be successful. If you use Slack, create a #remoties room where you do a Friday Question that elicits fun responses.
Some Friday Question examples include:
- If you were a kitchen appliance, what would you be?
- If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
- What’s your favorite vacation destination?
- What’s the absolute best pizza?
- You have developed a new catch phrase that has absolutely taken the world by storm. What is it?
There are lots of silly responses, but also serious responses. Then there are follow-up questions. You get to learn a bit about your coworkers in terms of their travel, family, culture, and climate, as well as how they approach answering some of these creative questions.”
Evan Stenmark, Senior Software Developer
Has worked remotely for 7 years
2. Be upfront with your manager and colleagues about your kids’ schedules.
“It’s tempting to juggle child-rearing wholly behind the scenes professionally, but I’ve found that I scramble far less and bring a better approach to both my parenting and my work when I’m clear with coworkers about times during the day when I’m unavailable to meet.
I use a Zapier integration to update my Slack status to Child Wrangling any time my Google Calendar has an event titled kiddos.”
Andrew Petersen, Product Marketing Manager
Has worked remotely for 4 years
3. Dedicate some meeting time to relationship building.
“Have a dedicated 5-15 minutes (depending on attendees) each meeting for arriving and icebreakers, sharing weekly wins, etc. That allows everyone to bond and makes it less frustrating when you see your meeting time tick away.”
Eva Kuehnert, Director of Product Management
Has worked remotely for 14 years
4. Create your own office environment separate from your “real life.”
“Set aside a spot in your home specifically for work that you can walk away from and not keep seeing when you return to ‘real life.’ This one is huge and I understand is not always possible depending on one's living arrangement, but I am much happier and less stressed when I have had a spot to dedicate to work only and it is not just out in the open with all my other family things.
It has helped me also prioritize that when I am at work, I am at work in my office space and laundry is not part of that work. Then when I am being mom, wife, family participant, I can dedicate time fully to that and not be constantly answering emails during dinner.
If possible, get a standing desk or build one yourself. Sitting all day every day the first year I went remote actually caused a lot of damage to my lower back, and I needed to fix that. One of the recommendations from my doctor was a standing desk, and truly, it's been amazing! I rotate from standing for an hour and a half to sitting for 45 minutes then standing again. It also helps keep me moving and limits me staying still in one spot all day.”
Abby Stearns, Manager of Market Development
Has worked remotely for 4 years
5. Find creative ways to combat the feeling of loneliness.
“I run a Remoties Fun Friday every week. It used to be at 11 a.m. CST, but after some consideration, I chose to change this time since I know some people really valued having their lunch breaks to spend time with kids, spouses, etc, or just simply stepping away from their desk and laptops.
This is why I chose to change it to Remotie Tea Time at 2 p.m. (CST). This allows people to get a bunch of work done during the day and then not feel guilty about taking 30 minutes off to just relax and have some fun with their coworkers. We have played Jackbox, virtual Pictionary, Among Us, and sometimes have joined the remote call just to complete mandated annual trainings together.
Mixing it up and having fun, having a cuppa tea, and getting to know your coworkers is highly important; it eliminates that loneliness that can be associated with remote work. Because in all honesty, at the end of the day you are sitting alone in your office for 8 hours. The trick is how do you not feel alone when you are physically alone?”
Soolin Withrow, Senior Support Specialist
Has worked remotely for 1 year
6. Use video as much as possible.
“It’s incredibly important to use your video whenever possible. It helps build trust and allows for non-verbal communication signals, which helps improve overall communication. Instead of turning to Slack for chats, jump on a video call instead. It can help you get to a conclusion much quicker, while also helping strengthen that relationship.
Remember to follow the 20/20/20 rule to help minimize eye strain. Video chatting is great, but staring at your computer all day without a break isn’t very healthy.”
Michael Griffin, Salesforce Alliance Manager
Has worked remotely for 4.5 years
7. Take time off.
“One big benefit of remote work (when not in a pandemic) is traveling. But because you can work from literally anywhere, sometimes this counteracts people actually taking time off. This can lead to burnout, and make employees feel like they are always working.
It’s fine to take remote work trips, but don’t forget to take time for yourself! Make sure to factor in real vacations where you log off from work completely. Working remotely has enabled me to use my time in ways I never could before, but sometimes it can be tempting to turn a ‘for fun’ trip into a ‘working’ trip.
The pandemic has somewhat intensified this lack of taking time off. When stuck at home, many people feel like they don’t need to take time off. You still need to take time off! Regardless if you have somewhere to go or not. A staycation is just as worthwhile as a vacation.”
Lindsay McGuire, Content Marketing Manager
Has worked remotely for 2.5 years
8. Set the right tone and boundaries for your day.
“Have (and follow) a morning routine. Incorporating a morning routine that honors me and my time, sets me up for mental and physical success in my day, and gives me stability is such a great relief and even more important when you live and work from home.
Set boundaries and communicate them: People will generally always respect boundaries and time, but you need to establish those and communicate them so those around you know what to expect. If I need to be off at a certain time of the day or I need ‘offline time,’ I let my team know.
Not only does it inform them of where I am (since they physically cannot see that I have left the building), but it also encourages others to take time away as well if they see you or others doing this.”
Jessica Hass, VP of CX
Has worked remotely for 12 years
Listen Now: Get tips on how to make the adjustment to working from home, from those who have worked remote for years in our Ripple Effect podcast episode Adjusting to a New Reality.
9. Strong internet is a must.
“Always make sure your internet connection is reliable. Even in big cities, I’ve struggled with poor internet connections that have derailed my day. It’s smart to have a back-up plan, like a hotspot on your phone.”
Marcela Tiznado, DevOps Engineer
Has worked remotely for 15 years
10. Establish a coworking schedule.
“I think my biggest contribution to the remote work culture at Formstack has been hosting regular coffee and coworking sessions on Zoom. It is a great way to get the team together virtually, build comradery, and cowork through challenging problems. Sometimes we talk about whatever was on TV the night before, and other times we dig into larger customer issues with more eyes.”
Ricky Perez, Support Manager
Has worked remotely for 2.5 years
Conclusion: Remote work takes effort!
At the end of the day, working remotely takes effort to be successful. It’s important to put extra focus on your mental health, relationship building, and scheduling. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and seperate your “home life” from “remote work life.” We hope the tips above can help you establish some healthy and helpful remote work strategies.
Want to learn more about how to be successful at remote work? Listen to the new Ripple Effect podcast episode Future of Work: Remote Work Truths and Misconceptions. Discover remote work tips and best practices that can help you, your team, and your organization transition to a truly remote work environment.