WFH… Now what? 5 tips to ensure your remote work success (and dozens of links )

All of us are feeling the societal and business effects of the spread of novel coronavirus COVID-19. As a response to support our community we’ve created a resource page for you to use and share with your family, friends and coworkers.

Please note that the current situation has impacted the PNW blood supply. Anyone who is healthy is encouraged to donate blood or host a blood drive Bloodworks Northwest policies comply with FDA, CDC, local health departments, and other applicable recommendations related to Covid-19. Appointment and information is at Bloodworksnw.org, 800-398-7888 or text bloodapp to 91985 to receive a link on your phone.

We’ve cancelled 4 March events and are preparing to have to cancel 5 April events. This is a HUGE financial hit for New Tech. Next week we’ll be launching “New Tech PLUS”, a very affordable paid online community option for those of you interested in supporting us and being more engaged with your New Tech community. We’re looking forward to supporting you and connecting with you more deeply on Slack and Zoom events.

Additionally, many in the New Tech community are finding themselves working from home for the first time. When local officials last week recommended that companies allow as many people as possible to work from home, many local tech companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Redfin, Facebook and Google, were quick to step up and do their part by requesting their employees stay home if possible.

While this may be a first taste of working from home for many local tech workers, remote work has been on the rise for a number of years now. According to FlexJobs, a leading job search site for remote, part-time, freelance and flexible jobs, remote work has grown by 44% in the past 5 years and by 91% over the last decade. And it appears that it’s here to stay: Global freelancing platform Upwork’s most recent “Future Workforce Report” found that 73% of all teams will have remote workers by the year 2028.

To help the newly initiated make the most of their time working from home, here are 5 tips for successfully working from home (be sure to click the links below for dozens of other tips from these authors).

  1. Get expectations. PayScale, the Seattle-based compensation software and data company, regularly blogs about the topic of remote work. In a post on “10 Communications Tips Remote Workers Need to Know” they offer sage advice about the importance of getting – not just setting – expectations. In at, they advise not to “assume that you know what a normal workday will look like… Ask what they’ll need from you – and get specifics. When should you be online (logging on and off)? How will you communicate with each other (messaging, email, video, phone)? What are your deliverables and how will working at home change the way in which you deliver them? Get as many specifics as you can.”
  2. Communicate regularly. Speaking of communication, Glassdoor notes the importance of maintaining regular communications with your company and team even though you’re not in the office. According to their recent blog post “10 Tips to Help Remote Workers Avoid Burnout,” they reiterate that “[e]veryone needs to always be in the loop about what is going on, where you are at with a project, etc. When you work remotely, it tends to be more difficult to communicate with others, as they are not able to simply walk to your desk when they need to talk to you. Make sure that you are always reaching out.”
  3. Build a remote community. Julie Yue, a data insights manager at augmented writing platform Textio, recently wrote about how employees at her company are looking for ways to make working from home under current circumstances more positive and less isolating. Julie shares that a “flash Slack channel has been rolled out to discuss platforms for more collaborative writing or even virtual whiteboarding. In other Slack channels Textios are finding ways to make working from home feel less lonely. They share photos of homemade lunches or ecstatic pets, and even set up an ongoing conference call so the spontaneous chatter can make working from home feel like a normal work day.”
  4. Take breaks. Diego Poza, head of content and developer relations for Seattle-based identity management platform Auth0, published a fantastic blog post nearly four years ago titled “21 Tried-and-True Tips for Remote Working.” While the entire list offers practical advice for all remote workers, but especially the newly initiated, taking deliberate breaks is one of the most important. When we’re working in the office, it’s easy to hit your daily step count by walking to meetings or to grab coffee or lunch with a coworker. But at home it’s easy to sit in the same position at your table or desk from morning until night. As Diego suggests, “taking breaks from the screen is important for both your productivity and your health… A 5-minute walk can re-invigorate you after a few hours at your desk. Remote workers shouldn’t feel guilty about taking this time away from their desks.”
  5. Talk to your spouse or partner about remote work. Michael Risse, VP/CMO of Seattle-based advanced analytics developer Seeq, which has been fully remote since its founding seven years ago, underscores the importance of talking with your significant other about this new remote work situation. It’s easy to be expected to assist with impromptu projects now that you’re always around. As Michael notes, “[y]es, you’re at home because you’re working at home, and while being flexible is one thing, being available right now is another. When they decide to start power-washing the deck and want help that’s not good for your relationship. Have the discussion: being at home doesn’t equal being always available. Flexible, yes, but spontaneous? No.”

So there you have it. Whether you’re settling in to work from for just the next several weeks or hoping to use current events as an opportunity to test remote work policies for your team or company, these suggestions should provide helpful guidance to make the most of the experience. I’m looking forward to sharing a companion piece on this topic with tips for managers that are managing remote workers and teams. Until next time, be well and stay healthy New Techies.

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