How to work from home more effectively

Some companies allow employees to work from home. Working from home is based on trust. The employer trusts employees that they are still working while not in office and still proactively move projects forward no matter what. Below are just some random thoughts on how to improve the way you could work from home.

Let your team know you’re remote

Tell your manager beforehand or/and put it in a relevant Slack channel that you will be remote.

Mention times that you might not be available and set into your Slack or messenger when you’ll be back at your desk. Be clear about the times of the day you are (not) available. Don’t forget to take leave for your unavailable hours.

Use video chat

You will mostly be in touch with your colleagues through text messaging but don’t underestimate the power of video to convey your meaning. Only use video when you have exhausted other ways of communication. Also use the power of screen sharing.

Attend stand-ups and meetings

Attend your scheduled meetings and stand-ups. Let people know what you are doing. Keep in the loop.

Let people know what you will be working on that day through Slack or other means. Someone from you team might benefit from that.

Don’t forget to go on mute if you’re not talking.

Pay attention to your writing

When you are working remotely, what you write is what you mean. People actually judge you by your style of writing. Before hitting Enter proofread your sentence. Is it correct in terms of grammar and spelling?

In Slack you can actually go back and edit but an email sent, is gone. In Jira, Confluence and Slack use proper text formatting syntax or Markup. Do not just copy-paste text into these systems. This is more important when you paste code or scripts. If you are careless about your writing I assume you are careless about the work you’re producing.

See: Slack formattingJira formattingConfluence formatting

Your system

Make sure you have a proper desk, chair, and monitor at home. Your have already tested your VPN access, have a reliable Internet and most importantly a quality headset.

Using a headset is better than your laptop’s mic/speaker and will not generate echo.

If a system is not accessible remotely speak up. Raise an IT ticket or tell someone about it.

Focus

Focus might be a big issue when working in office and it could be one of the reasons you might want to WFH, to have less distractions. Perhaps you want to focus on something particular like a delivery or a document.

But at the same time you might have other distractions at home such as family, Facebook, phone, TV and your bed.

Unlike when you’re in the office when you’re at home nobody is seeing you hence there might be a tendency to slack off. You can work in slots of 1 hour work and have a break.

Don’t forget to standup every 30 min and stretch. See Pomodoro Technique.

Accountability

You’re expected to perform your tasks regardless of where you are. If you have a good manager he or she will not care where you are as long as you finish your tasks. Being accountable for what is expected from you is also called integrity. It is doing the right thing when nobody is looking. Be proactive and finish your tasks and follow them up. Do not assume your job is done and it’s now with someone else. If it relates to you, follow it up till end. You do not need someone to babysit you.

Working from home is not a replacement for carers leave. If your children are sick or have 20 guests or you need to mow your lawn then do not call it working from home. Just take the day off or take carer’s leave.

Further Reading

Social contracts for agile teams

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