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Top tips for a successful transition to working remotely

Effective remote work hinges on a disciplined awareness of the remote experience, exceptional communication habits, and a willingness to embrace technology. The staff at Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE), a leader in innovative online educational delivery, are well-versed in using virtual platforms to collaborate across teams and have long recognized the benefits of working from home.

While it can be just as – if not more – productive, working remotely does have nuances that set it apart from an office setting. Although remote work boasts flexibility, it poses challenges such as audio and technical difficulties, potential exposure to unsecured networks and ransomware, and limitations with nonverbal cues, like body language. It’s important to be aware of these challenges and be prepared to quickly adjust communication styles or workflows if something isn’t working.

However, the ability to work remotely can also provide several benefits to employee satisfaction and overall team productivity. When done well, working from home can create frictionless workflows, reduce office conflict, and build collaboration and trust across teams – not to mention saving on office space costs for an employer.

Whether you are new to this concept or have been working remotely for years, here are a few suggestions from the GTPE experts on ensuring your efforts are successful.

Maximize efficiency and productivity

Getting your work done is important, but staying healthy – mentally and physically – is just as crucial for at-home workers. You control your working environment, and setting boundaries between your professional and personal life is important.

The right office space will set the tone for your work day. Designate a physical area in your home that is quiet, distraction-free, and encourages you to stay focused. Ideally, this is a space that is used solely for working purposes.

Our Academic Programs Manager, Lindsey Laney, chooses not to work from spaces in her house designed for rest (i.e. the bedroom), while Carla Hendricks, executive assistant, finds it helpful to keep her home desk similar to her desk at work.

Without the buzz of the office, it can be easy to lose track of time, so it’s important to build routines that account for your well-being. You may also find yourself working in the evenings and weekends, which can offset a work-life balance.

Rashimi Dawadi, senior business intelligence developer, makes a point to maintain the same working hours as when in the office, and Shayla Hill, assistant director of digital strategy, is vigilant at keeping an eye on the time.

“When the end of my work day comes, I leave my office and close the door. This serves as a great transition for me back into my personal life, it’s my afternoon commute down the hall.”

As you would in the office, it’s also important to take breaks to remain refreshed and ready to start a new task. At home, you often don’t have cues for lunch breaks, so London Cox, human resources coordinator, suggests scheduling time to eat and hydrate throughout the day while remembering to stretch, breathe, or stand when you’ve been sitting for long periods.

Embrace technology and virtual meetings for remote work

A practical command of available technologies and tools and a robust knowledge of your applications are essential when working remotely. “You have to be fearless when it comes to technology,” says Dominique Ennis Sierra, director of operations.

“You may be using a platform that’s not your preference, but you still need to get your message across succinctly and clearly to your audience.”

In addition to practicing good cyber-hygiene, a strong internet connection and a combination of cloud-based business applications and file-sharing systems will allow teams to work synchronistically while making a move to a new location or device a seamless process. Some of our favorite digital tools include Bluejeans, Dropbox, Sharepoint, and Microsoft Teams.

Likewise, you should embrace virtual meetings as the new norm and approach each meeting with purpose and respect. Avoid multitasking, test the technology, arrive prepared and on time, and assign a facilitator.

Our Digital Projects Manager, Tia Durham, also notes that video conferences are most effective when others can see your facial expressions and body language. Therefore, it’s important to be cognizant of how you present yourself. “It’s easy to forget that other people can see you since you are not in the room, so I make sure I have the video portion of others in front of me so I don’t forget.”

Be smart with how you communicate

As many organizations transition to remote work for the first time, they may lack established guidelines and policies. Working with your supervisor to set these ground rules and determine best practices around work schedules, response times, and availability will ensure everyone is on the same page.

Reserve emails for single messages, such as setting up video meeting times or sharing files. Instant messaging should be used to discuss a project casually or have brief catch-ups with a colleague. Call via phone or video conference for more in-depth conversations that require a lot of back and forth.

To minimize the need to follow up for additional details frequently and to help facilitate more thorough responses, Reshan Baqi, marketing research associate, finds it useful to include any discussion materials ahead of time and request a virtual meeting instead of an email.

Since remote work is often non-verbal, misunderstandings are inevitable. Plan regular face-to-face meetings at a cadence and format that works for everyone, and be mindful of including others in decisions or shared information. On text or other electronic communication mechanisms, address the person you are communicating with before asking a question, and utilize animated GIFs and emoticons to convey emotion.

If you feel like an emotional response is coming up from a virtual communication, Laney suggests picking up the phone or video calling that person directly whenever possible.

“It may feel uncomfortable, but it is better than letting a potential miscommunication get out of hand. It always helps to talk voice-to-voice or face-to-face.”

The future of remote work

For some, working remotely might be a new experience, but ultimately, it can be positive. “Going forward, workplaces will become increasingly digitally focused and globally connected to keep up with the rapid pace of technology,” said Nelson Baker, dean of professional education. “It will be vital for working professionals to regularly embrace new techniques and acquire additional skills to acclimate.”

Incorporate some of the approaches reviewed here, and you will equip yourself with deeper problem-solving skills and more agile working techniques ready to take on the future of work. Stay tuned for additional articles that will help you address the current reality, like the additional pressure of homeschooling and digital boundaries.

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This article was originally published by the Georgia Institute of Technology and is republished with permission by NetworkTigers, your source for high-quality new and used network equipment.

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We publish guest articles from a variety of sources. Usually, authorship and attribution is included in the body of the article.

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Top tips for a successful transition to working remotely