For many people, this is the first time they have worked outside the confines of the office walls. Some are thriving but most are still adjusting to such a big change.
In my newest book, Powershift, I talk about the inevitable future shift in the workforce - specifically, the digital workforce. But the thing is, the future has been expedited. People around the world are now working from home, and I certainly can't say how long it's going to last but there are plenty of smart people who suggest that things may never go back to "normal."
At The Shark Group, we have been working with Virtual Assistants for years, and prior to Covid-19, I spent the majority of my days touring the country- IE not in an office. So we have experience leading from afar, but for most of you, this is all new territory. I believe that even after social distancing regulations are lifted, many organizations will choose to adopt some aspects of working virtually and we need to be prepared for what that looks like.
If you want to stick around for the long haul you don’t just have to adapt to working remotely, you also need to grow strong leaders and incredible culture. The reason SO many are struggling to adapt is that
leading a virtual team is only successful when an organization has:
- Strong leadership
- Innovative thinkers
- Resourceful teams (aka the ability to just get.shit.done) and
- Impeccable communication (hard to come by!)
I have asked one of my seasoned remote managers to compile a resource that will help you work from home. If you have read Powershift, you have met her already! Crystal is a former VA turned full-time virtual Digital Manager and she's got some recommendations to share with you:
I have been working remotely for over 2 years and some days it's still an adjustment. But working remotely isn’t just beneficial to companies (saves money on office space, ability to attract global talent) but it’s a really great way for employees to find better opportunities without packing up and leaving family/home behind. So even if you are struggling to see the upside right now, there are benefits to a virtual future. The key is to learn new skills that will help you adjust.
Teams who work virtually need to adapt their processes and communication methods. Here are the
Top 7 apps & tools my team and I use EVERY DAY to strengthen our virtual communication:
1. For me, Slack is the equivalent of asking a quick question to the guy sitting next to you, except he’s not sitting next to you. It's great for quick check-ins. Instead of a single overstuffed inbox, conversations in Slack happen in dedicated channels, making it easy to keep track of projects.
2. For task management, I love ClickUp but the key to any task management app is to be consistent & get your team on board.
3. With Loom, you can capture your screen, voice, and face and instantly share your video in less time than it would take to type an email. It also tells you when someone has viewed your video AND they just released a mobile app.
4. When you work virtually, your email usage skyrockets 🚀so I need as much help managing my inbox as possible. The Boomerang chrome extension helps me set reminders, schedule emails, and PAUSE my inbox. Pausing my inbox is my favorite feature. I'm a perpetual inbox checker and living in my inbox all day means I can't get into a good flow. Pausing for an hour or 2 at a time lets me focus. And since my team uses slack, I can tell them to slack me if they really need my attention.
5. Calendly isn't just great for sales calls. It's also a convenient way to create virtual "office hours." It also saves us the headache of endless back and forth emails to find a time that works for both parties.
6. Zoom- for scheduled or impromptu calls, there’s nothing better. You can host webinars, share your screen, help someone with a tech issue with their remote access feature, demonstrate your ideas on a whiteboard and set fun virtual backgrounds to lighten the mood.
7. If you are not using Google Docs, Calendar and Sheets to work together in the cloud, start RIGHT NOW. It’s a lifesaver. Dropbox is a decent file storage option (though I prefer Google Drive for that too), but the G-Suite products make virtual collaboration a breeze.
Another struggle people tend to have when they work virtually is remembering to take care of themselves! Every day is different when I work remotely. I am human after all, so admittedly some days I am ready to get to work and grind through my list and other days, I have trouble getting started and need to force a mental shift. Here are
9 ways I care for my mental health:
1. Time chunk. Time chunking is when you break up your day into larger chunks instead of reacting to constant interruptions. It allows you to have more focus and get more done. I try to schedule times I check my inbox (living in it all day will slow you down), have meetings, write content, check analytics, etc. Having this schedule helps me get in the right mindset.
2. Communicate with your family about your day. What are your working hours? When do you need quiet time? What should the kids do if you have a call? Whatever you have on your plate, openly communicate with your family and be prepared to make adjustments that work for everyone.
3. Meditate in the morning to get in a good headspace. Admittedly, I'm still not very good at meditating (I can't seem to turn my brain off!), but it still helps me make the mental transition from play (with a fun 2-year-old) to work. I only spend 10 minutes and I use the Calm app.
4. Plan out your goals for the day the night before. I like to start by making 2 lists. 1 list includes everything that HAS to get done tomorrow and the other is what I would like to accomplish. Then I move to my calendar. I estimate the time each project from the first list will take and block off time on my calendar. If there's any time left, I move to list 2. Getting my list out of my head and down on paper helps with decision fatigue.
5. Invest in some GOOD coffee (or chocolate, protein shake, etc - whatever your poison is). I don't know about you, but I need some caffeine in my life. I miss my morning trips to Starbucks but I'm also saving some cash (win-win?). Sometimes I need coffee to get me going and other times, I need to remember to stop and take a break and a good cup of afternoon-coffee helps me do that.
7. Keep healthy snacks like nuts, fruits, veggies, and cheese in the house. I don't know about you but when I am home, I either graze all day or forget to eat anything. Having healthy snacks that are easy to eat and go, keeps me energized.
8. You have an incredible opportunity to get outside more or exercise in the middle of the day! Now it’s not something you HAVE to do after work but something you GET to do in the middle of the day and it feels like a little cheat. It's a great lunch break for me.
9. Send gifs and memes to your team. I’m serious! It’s fun. You still get to laugh together and you feel more connected and I think connectivity is what you miss most when you work virtually.
Send me a connection request on Linkedin - I'd love to talk about how you are coping with social distancing and what tips you have for working from home, productively!