Best Practices From Over a Decade of Remote Work at Encore
For many at Encore, working remotely has been a typical way of life for over 10 years. We have collected considerable hours of experience working virtually and collaborating with our teammates and clients all over Canada and the US in home offices or from our 4 corporate offices. It’s safe to say that in that time we’ve accumulated a significant amount of best practices to follow.
We’ve expanded on this Microsoft infographic that has some really useful tips for working from home productively and happily, since that is the reality for almost all of us right now.
Today we’ll focus on the wellness side of remote work. A happy and engaged team member is going to be the most effective team member, so Encore team members make sure to keep a routine, get outside for fresh air and make time for family.
See below for more advice and learnings from Encore team members about effectively working from home and keeping wellness at the forefront.
Find the Ultimate Routine, for You!
“Routine. Routine. Routine. Get up early, go for a walk, have breakfast. The sooner you establish a routine, the better.”
“Keep your routine as normal as possible! Get up, get ready for work as if you are going into the office, check in with coworkers (say good morning), take breaks and move around like you would normally do, and at the end of the day, say goodbye. I have found that keeping a consistent routine is the key to successfully transitioning to remote work life and will also make the transition back to your office much easier when the time comes.”
“Make sure you set some hours. I think a surprising thing people find when they start working remotely is that it’s very easy to work 10+ hours each day. If you don’t set a time to unplug, you can easily work all night long.”
“Get dressed like you are going into the office! Shower, brush your teeth and start your day like normal.”
Making That Workspace Work!
“This may seem obvious, but having a dedicated workspace is essential if you work from home a lot. You’ll have better focus, organization, privacy, and less interruptions. My family knows that when my office door is closed, I’m working – no interruptions. If my kids have friends over, I let them know (in front of their friends) that I’m working, that means keep it down, or go outside. (I run a strict ship at home!)”
“Separate your workspace from your living space if you can, even if it’s a ‘work corner’. When you go there, it’s only to work. This helps me remove mental distraction.”
“Start the day off with exercising, get ready for the day as if you were going out to work, and keep a work routine. Most importantly, keep your workspace separate from your regular living space.”
“Having your own space is huge! Being able to close a door when you are on a call makes all the difference. Although there has been piano playing in the background sometimes for mood music. I can’t completely control my kids!”
“Get a good chair!”
“A dedicated separate space (if possible) is key especially when you have multiple people working from home. That way you can leave the work when required without ‘packing up’. Set time to work and ‘leave’ the office when the day is done.”
Wellness Hacks that Work
“I am lucky enough to have a furry friend who reminds me that at noon sharp it’s walking time! Even before we had him, I would make sure to take a lunch break in the kitchen or on the deck, depending on weather. It’s a good way to take a break and recharge so you can get back at it!”
“Get some exercise, go on the treadmill or for a short walk. Take an actual lunch break, clear your head and you will be more productive in the afternoon session.”
“I try and get some yoga or light weightlifting in throughout the day. Exercise helps relieve all sorts of ‘cooped up’ tension.”
“Something on the social side of things: Our team runs social game lunches and plays jackboxgames.com games (fibbage, quiplash) by sharing the main screen over Teams. The games are 20-30 minutes long, 3-8 players plus audience, and good light fun. This helps us keep in touch and unwind together.”
-Solution Developer Specialist
Productivity and Collaboration Tips
“Keep it lean and simple; capture & share as much information within the Teams meeting as possible. Utilize screen share or white boarding capability, share images and links in the chat feature, use the poll feature or add a document to capture information. Record the session if required, and capture notes in Teams. This way there is a concentrated place for all reference information from that conversation. This will also save time by not having to send emails while on the call or as follow-up after.”
“Mute your various notifications on devices when you are focusing on a task, so you don’t get distracted.”
“Use video, it’s the best form of communication after being in-person. Try to set clear, tangible goals and expectations, for example, I’ll let my family members know that these are my ‘work hours’ or let them know when my meetings are so as not to disturb me. This one is a pretty good one that I’m still learning; ‘There’s work and then there’s family and friends’ i.e., don’t work at 10pm!”
“My coworkers and myself have a weekly ‘open conversation and discussion’ meeting in Teams where we just open up and talk. It makes working from home feel less lonely.”
“Use your tools wisely and be aware of team member’s statuses. If you have a one-to-one question that has a simple or yes/no answer, hit the person up through the Teams chat. Don’t ask if you can ask them, just ask them. If you suspect it’s anything more than a quick answer (like it might warrant a back and forth), pick up the phone and call. Don’t ask if you can call them, just call them. If their status is anything other than green, leave them a message to call you once they have time. If you need to question a larger group, need to inform people, or have questions that don’t impact your immediate decision making, send it in an email or wait for a team meeting.
Don’t waste time scheduling meetings that could be solved in a 45 second chat! And on the other side of the coin, answer your phone when it rings, and watch your Teams notifications for alerts that someone is trying to ping you. You can be quick, to the point, AND fun and friendly.”
We’ve learned plenty from working from our virtual offices for over a decade. The methods we’ve described have been tried and tested by our team members who work in all areas of the organization. For more information about using Microsoft Teams, please view our recorded webinar. If you’d like to learn more about the technology and support needed to work remotely, please connect with us.
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