Waking up in the morning, going through the routine and driving off to work seemed like every adult’s daily grind. In fact, the idea of being a remote worker or conducting your business entirely online seemed too risky. It was not something for the normal, regular adults.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our perception of being a remote worker dramatically overnight. Now we have companies actively encouraging their employees to transition into remote workers, so as to follow the rules of social distancing, respiratory hygiene, sanitization standards, etc. In other words, high priority on health and safety has led to the rise of the remote worker.
While this might be a gold mine for those already familiar with their way around the virtual workspace, being a remote worker is still alien to the majority of the world’s employees. The human condition has been programmed by centuries of evolution to adapt to change. However, when change is rapid and new, it can be disconcerting and can contribute to COVID-19 stress.
A good idea is to also familiarize yourself with new laws and regulations being introduced by your local, state or federal government. These can affect your salary and benefits package as a remote worker in COVID-19. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the world economy might face its worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Nevertheless, there are many resources and tips on navigating the life of a remote worker, staying connected to your workplace community and still being productive, creative and successful at what you do.
Embrace Your New Role
You cannot be a successful remote worker if you are constantly complaining about change. The best way to embrace your new role is to identify the perks being a remote worker brings. For example, the daily working life of your average adult consisted of a few disadvantages:
- According to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai has a vehicle density of 540 cars per 1,000 people, one of the highest in the world. That means, commuting to work can take 1 hour and 45 minutes on an average.
- Overtime, late hours and sometimes working six days a week was completely normal.
- It was customary to be late, absent or too tired for many life events, from anniversaries and birthdays, to play rehearsals and PTA meetings.
Identifying the positives of being a remote worker will reduce your stress to a great extent, as well as ease your transition into this new phase of your career.
Create Your Own Space
Designate your office area in your home. It should be clear of household clutter and daily distractions. While it is tempting to work in bed in your pajamas, veteran remote workers will agree that it is not the best for mental clarity and productivity.
Setting up your work station is easily accomplished when you live alone. But it is a little harder when you live with roommates or family. It is important to discuss boundaries and work rules, so that you can be an effective remote worker. Working from home doesn’t make work any less important or valuable than if you were commuting to work.
Personal Discipline & Routine
One of the perks of being a remote worker is that you do not need to complete your morning routine all the way. No shaving, no doing your makeup, no styling your hair, and no picking your work attire. However, how you look and feel has a direct impact on how you function as a remote worker. Even having a simple routine such as showering and eating a proper breakfast, will prep your mind and kick-start it for the day.
A common assumption with being a remote worker is that you can set your own hours. While this is largely true if you are a freelancer or entrepreneur, most remote employees are still expected to be online by a certain time. You are alloted breaks and a time to sign out. Of course, the kind of scheduling varies with each company and business, as well as the types of clients and projects being handled. Hence, personal discipline and having a set schedule of your own makes a huge difference in settling in as a remote worker.
Organizational & Productivity Tools
Make sure you have everything you need for your new role as a remote worker. In terms of tools and technology, some suggestions are:
- High-speed Internet
- Password Manager
- Cloud Storage
- Printer and Scanner
Effective remote workers are always on the lookout for smarter technologies, such as team communication platforms, progress trackers for projects, and sleeker scheduling software. Looking for creative solutions creates a dynamic remote work environment. However, make sure that all your team members are on the same page. Everyone’s virtual adaptability skills are different, and being critical or impatient isn’t going to motivate anyone.
Communication is a crucial part of being an effective remote worker. It is the make-or-break skill of any workplace, physical or remote. Remember, you no longer have the option of swinging by a coworker’s desk everytime you have a doubt. You might even be working with people from different time zones. So it is important that you include relevant details, seek clarifications, as well be specific and clear when you communicate.
Since a remote working environment does not allow for body language perception, it is easy to misjudge a comment or statement. Make a conscious effort while communicating to assume the best of your team members. Do not jump to conclusions. Cultivate an atmosphere of trust and humour versus malice and suspicion. Everyone is new to the remote worker life and mistakes are natural.