With the current world situation, more and more people are working from home. And there are plenty of benefits to that: having no more morning commute and being location-independent are just a few of them. But remote work also comes with a string of challenges and can be more difficult to handle than it seems. Loneliness, lack of social interactions, and messy communication can all be part of the package.
As a company, we’ve been working remotely for more than 8 years, long before the COVID-19 pandemic started. And because many of the core issues we face as remote workers are the same, we wanted to address some of them. We asked our Rocketeers for their tips on the subject and here they are, best practices from people who are actually working remotely!
1. Set Up a Great Workspace
Because you’re not going to the office every morning doesn’t mean you don’t need an office to work from. While not everybody has a spare room to use as an office space, it’s important to dedicate a desk (or simply a table) that you can use for work, and preferably in a quiet spot where your roommates or family members will not interrupt you.
Having a workspace at home also means that you need the equipment to go with it and get your job done properly: quality tech, reliable wifi, an ergonomic chair… and maybe a tiny cactus to decorate your desk. And voilà: you got yourself an office-esque environment! At WP Rocket, we have dedicated budgets to provide you with the necessary equipment that will set you up for success. From laptop to monitor, from chair to internet expenses, it’s all taken care of.*
*We do not have a cactus budget yet though.
2. Prioritize Your Health
Well-being at work is very important but remote work comes with its own set of difficulties. Sitting in front of a computer all day can really take a toll on your health so make sure to get up from your desk every now and then. Don’t forget to properly exercise either: carve time out of your schedule for a workout every so often. At WP Rocket, we take this seriously and cover most health and sports expenses.
Being at home might also equate with more tempting snacks but try to eat healthy meals instead. It’s also equally important that you keep to a proper sleep schedule. And remember: it’s ok to be ill and feel off sometimes. Take sick days if you need them, that’s what they’re there for. We know this and that’s why we cover 90 sick days a year.
3. Find Work-Life Balance
Having a designated space for work is especially important if you don’t want your work life to bleed into your personal life, which is a challenge many remote workers struggle with. It can be difficult to leave work at work when work is literally at home but maintaining a clear boundary between the two is of utmost importance.
To avoid blurring the lines, you should set ground rules for the people you live with not to be disturbed during your working hours for example. Set some rules for yourself too: when you’re at your desk, focus on work and whenever you’re not, you should completely switch off. This means that once you’re done for the day, leave your laptop in your designated workspace and wind down for the evening as you usually would. And don’t forget to turn off your work notifications on your phone either!
4. Create a Daily Routine
On top of having a designated workspace, have designated working hours too. This doesn’t mean you need to follow a strict 9-5 schedule but knowing when to work and when to stop helps create a “just normal day at the office” spirit. Rather than stay in your pajamas all day, dress up in work clothes even if you’re staying at home. Start and end your workday with little rituals like a coffee in the morning and a walk in the evening to signal to your brain when it’s time to start and stop.
When do you prefer working? Are you an early bird or more of a night owl? Check when you are the most productive, set a schedule for yourself, and don’t forget to track time to make sure you’re sticking to it. When it’s possible, you can take advantage of the flexibility that remote work offers too. Need to take your dog for a walk? Have a dental appointment at 3 pm? It’s easy enough to fit these into your schedule even if it means finishing work a bit later!
5. Take a Break (or Two)
When working in an office, people chat with each other, grab themselves a snack, and go on coffee breaks. When working from home, we don’t have these opportunities, and taking a break can quickly feel like we’re slacking off. A lot of remote workers tend to work longer hours than they would if they were in an office. But here’s the thing: nobody works for 8 hours straight without taking breaks. That’s just no good for your productivity, not to mention your sanity.
Taking time to relax and recharge is so important during your workday. Use your breaks to get away from your desk and your screen: go for a walk, get some fresh air, have a nice long lunch outside… anything to switch off, and get back to work only feeling better.
6. Connect With Your Colleagues
Working from home without frequent interactions with teammates throughout your day at the office can trigger feelings of isolation and loneliness. The solution? Keep in touch with your colleagues regularly. Just because you’re not in an office together doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to each other over Slack or Zoom. Check in to ask about people’s weekend plans or their kids’ birthday celebrations. In other words, get to know your colleagues and connect with them!
To foster that feeling of belonging and connection, Jessica, our HR lead, organizes weekly online hangouts where anybody can join to have a friendly chat the same way we would at the office coffee machine. We also have dedicated slack channels where we share non-work-related shenanigans: Adina delights us with her best cake recipes, Joao regularly updates us about his cute pets while Ahmed is always one for the jokes!
When most of your workday is solitary, it can be nice to schedule some social time and get to see people. Working remotely means that it can be so easy to never leave the house and miss out on the benefits of social interactions. In non-covid times, there are plenty of activities that you can organize to hang out with other human beings: gym classes, happy hour with friends, WordPress meetups, coffees with other remote workers in your area.
At WP Rocket, we even organize yearly retreats in great places so that the whole team can meet in person, and enjoy some time together. We are based all over the world but whenever we can, we also like to spontaneously meet up with one another.
8. Be Big on Communication
Communication is key in any workplace but even more so when you’re working remotely. On remote teams, it’s easy for things to get lost in translation and communication can quickly become a struggle. To avoid any mishaps, overcommunicate and document everything. While written form is easier to get messages across, sometimes phone or video calls can be necessary when things are too complicated or take too long to explain through an email or a Slack message.
To make sure everyone has clarity on what is going on within the company, we regularly update our internal documentation and publish reports about each team’s activities. Every week, Jean-Baptiste, our co-founder, also records a video to share the latest company news and updates on major projects, something we look forward to every Monday!
9. Maximize Your Productivity
Working from home means that there are plenty of distractions to keep you from working. I mean, how tempting is that TV, right? Nevertheless, you need to get work done! Luckily, following a few simple rules can do the trick. First, organize your work: list what needs to be done, timebox each task, and check items off as you go. Turn off notifications when you need to focus and concentrate on particular tasks. If possible, try not to work on multiple tasks at once but finish one item before moving on to the next.
To build accountability for you and your team, share what you’re working on and when you plan to do it. When you’re done for the day, write down the next day’s to-do list so you know exactly what’s left on your plate. On the marketing team, for example, we usually kick off the Monday with a meeting to talk about what we’ve been working on the week before and what we want to accomplish for the week ahead.
10. Bonus Tip: Choose the Right Remote Company ❤️
Not all companies have the same approach when it comes to working from home. At WP Rocket, it really is in our DNA since we have been a distributed team from day 1. While it’s not always easy to build an office culture when there’s precisely no office, we think we’ve done a pretty good job at creating a company that people like to work at and feel a part of.
To make sure everybody is happy and to provide the best working conditions, we’re constantly asking for feedback from all employees through anonymous surveys. We currently have an 80% employee satisfaction rating. Way to go! On top of our 100% remote work environment, we offer many perks including an unlimited vacation policy, flexible hours, bonuses, and a super friendly team. Want to join us? We’re always on the lookout for great people to be part of the team. Check out our current openings!