Remote-working is here to stay. This post on behalf of Developmental Conversations offers tips for maintaining self-care drawn from experience, conversation, and published sources. Key sources are listed below.
Most will apply generally to working from home. Some refer particularly to video-conferencing. Not all suggestions will apply or be useful to everyone. Have a look and see what you think.
Curating the context:
- Eat, Exercise, Sleep
- Protect boundaries (see below)
- Practice self-compassion
- Build morale (see below)
Pay attention to the transition from normal into remote working. A major problem with the Coronavirus pandemic has been that it bumped huge numbers into remote working without any preparation or training, and without much in the way of choice. It is not too late to remedy that:
- Acknowledge it as a major transition. Go easy on yourself. Don’t give yourself a hard time if you get some things wrong or are slow to pick up speed.
- Don’t assume that you can work at the same pace as you did before. Communication by video link requires more effort. We have become communication novices overnight and there are lots of techniques still to learn.
- Schedule a lighter diary to start with – that is, one that looks lighter. You may well find that you are more tired after it than you expect.
- Learn and plan more explicitly than you normally do. So much of face-to-face communication and time management we learned by implicit means and over years, so now we need to read up and network to gather tips and strategies. Write them down. Adapt them to suit your work and temperament and build them into your practice.
- Dedicated space
If possible establish a space devoted entirely to work, remote linking or otherwise. If you do not have the luxury of space that can be devoted only to this, then have a place that you can reliably use – and you do use – for the remote linking, so that camera angles, background etc are already settled. Some people walk.
- Good lighting
This is important for your comfort (eye strain), productivity (energy and focus) and, when it comes to video calling it is important that your face is clearly, but not harshly, illuminated for the person you are meeting.
- Noise control
- ambient noise needs to be minimised for you to be clearly audible, and for you and others to be undistracted.
- volume control covered also below. This will be affected by equipment, distance from the microphone etc.
- com suggest a white noise machine to shut out distracting sounds. I have no idea if this works and I am not going to try it, but it is a thought. I doubt if this is for the video call, though.
- Comfortable seating
- Plenty of surface area. You need to be able to take notes without rustling, reach for references without leaving the frame etc.
- Personal joyful stuff. Traject recommend this, and I am not sure. The comfort and uplift that this provides needs to be weighed against distraction and boundary diffusion.
- Protect your time.
- Set a daily schedule:
- Make sure you know what is work time and when you are off work.
- Make sure you know what project you are engaged in at any one time.
- Include casual connections with colleagues (as you would do in the workplace), not just formal meetings.
- Schedule fresh air and exercise.
Broadly speaking, channels of communication and communication skill have both been reduced drastically, all round, so more effort will be needed:
- Be positive and supportive.
- Overcommunicate rather than undercommunicate.
- how others can reach you
- when others can catch you
- and clear up issues quickly with a phone call.
- Interpret problems as miscommunication rather than malice.
- Ask for feedback
- Reply promptly
- Establish how to share documents
Your working style
- Identify your “productivity weaknesses” and address them:
- Maintain your brand or culture and, if in a team, the team culture.
- Maintain morale:
- Dress and groom
- Chart project progress
- Not everything requires a meeting.
- On the other hand, the human face humanises.
- Ground yourself before you start.
- Can you be heard?
- Can you hear without strain?
- Consider confidentiality – being overheard
- Decide on Chair, facilitator, use of mute, hand signals, and chat.
- Decide on speaker view or (eg for chair) gallery view.
- Decide on chat before, after, or not at all.
- Establish alternative routes of communication
- For documents
- In event of interruption
- Chat function
- Ask for feedback
- Can you be heard?
- Were you understood?
- Did you understand?
- Avoid multitasking
- Avoid rudeness in the room (like looking at your phone)
Here are some sites to which I am indebted for ideas:
A good description of the need: https://twitter.com/LeapersCo/status/1257941168182243328?s=20
Traject: https://bytraject.com/blog/tips-for-working-remotely/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_content=&utm_campaign=&utm_term= https://twitter.com/ByTraject/status/1244814375485083648?s=20
@Leapers (eg on video calls, Matthew Knight) https://www.leapers.co/articles/2020-04-17/i-think-youre-on-mute-seven-ways-of-making-video-calls-less-stressful
And back to Home Page: Therapeutic Attitude