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The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down with social distancing (although not on social media), quarantine mandates, and shelter-in-place orders. People everywhere have had to make unprecedented decisions and hasty transitions they didn’t see coming. The huge shift to remote work.
This is a difficult situation and it’s caused a huge hit to the economy. However, unlike in previous pandemics, many businesses have been able to use technology to stay up and running during the coronavirus health crisis.
Still, this doesn’t mean that the massive shift to remote work has been easy. If you’re running into challenges with your own newly designated long-term remote work status, here are five tips to help you transition. These tips are being followed by some of the top website design companies in the industry.
1. Set Ground Rules
It’s a huge challenge moving to remote status without time to prepare, especially if your spouse, kids, or roommates were abruptly placed on remote status, too. For everyone to succeed, it’s important to set some household ground rules.
- Claim some dedicated workspace for each person in your home.
- Establish office hours when you can work without disruption, and share your hours with family and friends. (Tip: If you’re working for someone else, be sure to track your hours.)
- Discuss with household members what situations merit an interruption.
- Make sure everyone understands that if you’ve got your headset on or door closed for a conference, it’s a signal you shouldn’t be disturbed. Don’t be the next famous Zoom fail on the web!
Being in quarantine during a pandemic is stressful enough, and establishing ground rules will help enable everyone to get their work done.
2. Stick To A Set Agenda
It can be difficult to work from home, thanks to the many distractions within your own four walls, especially if you’re used to the quiet confines of an office. However, to succeed at remote work, after setting ground rules with your household members, it’s also a good strategy to apply some to yourself.
- Set a daily schedule, along with a to-do list to keep you focused.
- Break down hourly chunks to dedicate to daily tasks and special projects.
- Pencil in a specific time (or specific times) of day to check email. If you’re interrupting your work every time a new message comes in, it’s harder to get back on track.
- Establish time in your schedule to allow for video and/or phone conferences.
- Eliminate digital disruptions as much as possible. Silence your phone and turn off website notifications that aren’t directly related to work.
- Stay away from the TV and social media during work hours.
Setting an agenda and personal boundaries helps provide you with the roadmap you’ll need to have a successful workday. Just remember to leave some room for flexibility to accommodate unexpected meetings, complicated customer issues, or other un/anticipated events (like a kid emergency or a morning grocery run to avoid crowds).
3. Communicate With Clients
Chances are, your customers and clients are facing their own challenges. Be sure to check in with them and maintain these important relationships. You’ll want your communications to be engaging but also thoughtful. Here are some rules of thumb to remember:
- Avoid sending out aggressive marketing communications during this time, as they’ll likely be perceived as tone-deaf and insensitive at best — or insulting at worst. (Never forget that on top of the health crisis, millions have lost their jobs.)
- Craft your correspondence to be altruistic in nature, offering either helpful advice or information your recipient will find useful during this difficult time.
- Send a simple thank-you card, or better yet, a promotional gift that’s also practical. For example, under the current circumstances, people are relying on their phones more than ever, so why not send them a helpful branded gift, such as a pop socket?
While of course, you need to market yourself to survive this health crisis, make certain that whatever method of correspondence you decide to use, it’s a less aggressive form of marketing. Be authentic. Once things get back to normal, people will remember how businesses responded during the crisis. Don’t relegate yourself to their “do not patronize” lists simply because you weren’t paying attention when it mattered most.
4. Don’t Neglect Personal Finances
Unfortunately, this pandemic is going to have long-term economic repercussions that will likely outstrip the health effects of the coronavirus itself. Even if you don’t lose your job or business, many others will struggle or fail to survive.
If your business relies upon the success of others (and don’t they all?), you’ll want to be sure you have a financial cushion. Check and secure your bank balances; monitor and try to boost your credit score. Be sure both are in good shape in case you need fast access to cash or sturdy borrowing capacity.
5. Maintain A Healthy Work-Life Balance
When you set your schedule, remember to leave time for regular breaks, and establish a definitive “quitting time.” Set alarms if you need to, either on your phone or laptop. It can be easy to become so absorbed in work (especially when other activities are so limited, thanks to federal, state, and local restrictions) that you lose track of time and go hours beyond what’s recommended.
A leisurely walk, brisk jog, fun bike ride, or a short drive can do wonders for your mental health (driving barefoot especially can give you a sense of freedom in these restrictive times). Be sure to get a change of scenery — just remember to follow social distancing rules and don’t break any local laws.
The switch to remote work during the current pandemic is a learning curve for many. It’s also a good opportunity to add some skills to your professional toolbox. The working environment likely will look very different from here on out (although nobody can exactly draw the picture yet). The COVID-19 health crisis has resulted in a massive experiment in telecommuting. The skills and work habits you pick up now can position you for what might be coming down the pike once life returns to some sense of normalcy.
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