Working Online: Some Tips

The coronavirus health emergence has pushed a lot of schools and teachers into the realm of remote teaching, teaching from home or office. A lot of change for many teachers and a bit of a learning curve too.

I’ve worked remotely for the past decade and I’d like to briefly outline my own tips on how to make it work and be your most productive. Download and share the PDF version/flyer if you find them helpful!

Tips On How To Stay Productive When Working Remotely

  • Don’t get “home” distracted. There is a lot going on in most households, cafes, co-working spaces that can really affect how productive you actually are. Find a place and environment that works for you and which keeps distractions to a minimum.
  • Select A dedicated workspace. You don’t have to work there all the time but you DO need one place with all your tech, files, pens, papers, books, etc … So set this up. Don’t just wander hither and yonder with your laptop all the time.
  • Invest In Quality Technology. You’ll need a minimum of 4 Mbps bandwidth speed and it should be a reliable, stable connection. Go for a headset when using your laptop – most laptop microphones aren’t up to the standard of a phone. Invest in a machine with 8GBs at least of RAM and a good processor. All this will pay off when you are teaching online. The same goes for tools you might purchase to supplement your teaching. There are many excellent free things you can use Slack, Google Docs, etc … but don’t skimp if you need software or tools for your online job.
  • Plan. Keep A List Of Daily & Weekly Tasks. Keep on task by referring to your “to dos” and working on tasks to be completed. Trello is a great tool for this kind of task management.
  • Don’t think in terms of “putting in” time. Too often people working remotely think of putting in “hours”. Sure, hours count but most employers are more concerned with you getting the job done, the tasks done. So in not all cases is it about time, it’s about productivity.
  • Be dependable, reliable. Too often it is easy to “hide” virtually. Truly. It’s not like you are in an office and everyone knows you are there. However, don’t start getting soft, canceling, rescheduling just because you can – you are all part of a “team” and it can also become a habit. Set a time and show up – like if you couldn’t contact the others and cancel or were there in the office.
  • Find your work style and routine. When and how you work isn’t going to be the same for everyone. Some will like to schedule morning hours, some are more productive in the evenings. Some like to use video, some audio-only. Find your own comfort zones with things and note them, go with them. It will get the best out of you.
  • Over-communicate, clarify, ask. Working remotely only works if there is stellar, absolutely clear communication. So if in doubt, ask, clarify your own requests to others and focus that everyone is on the same page. Don’t assume you are.
  • Track Your Time. Working from home or a cafe, you can easily put in huge numbers of hours without realizing it. This will lead you to feel overworked, undervalued. Get a handle on actually how much time you are investing in your online work. Then negotiate from there, make changes if needed from there. Information is power. Use a watch or clock on your desk or even use some of the online / app time tracking tools that exist out there.
  • Turn Off Social Media. It goes without saying, it will do you good to step back from all the “noise” of Facebook, Twitter etc … Leave that for your downtime, your free time and focus on your tasks at hand.
  • Take a long lunch break. Or if not lunch, supper but make sure to take a good mid-session break to clear your head, relax and rejuvenate. Step back so to jump ahead. Too many don’t do this and it can be a productivity killer over time!
  • Informally Meet Colleagues Online. Remote work can sometimes be very lonely. Best to create a tight team that can rely on each other not only work-wise but also emotionally, personally. Start off if you can with a meet and greet each day of staff/team members. Have a Slack channel just for employees to goof off, chit-chat or share gifs. The virtual workplace needs company spirit and a personal vibe just like any workplace.
  • Celebrate your work accomplishments. Hey, you are doing great. You had a great class or finished a project. Crack open a bottle and pour yourself a glass of wine. Or go out for a special lunch or dinner. Working remotely, you’ll also have to be your own best friend – learn to love yourself and recognize the good stuff you do professionally!
  • Enjoy the perks of remote work! There are many pluses to working remotely. Embrace them and know working online isn’t a “demotion” but actually could be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. You have more independence, people trust in your skills more, you have a flexible schedule and more free time (no commute!). Plus many more positive benefits hopefully which includes a bigger pocketbook!

Also published on Medium.

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