Welcome to the world of remote working. It’s good to have you.
With an increasing number of companies encouraging and a whole slew of conferences going virtual-only, you’re going to see this trend continue to increase.
We’ve been working at Woven the last 3 years to help remote workers and organizations to schedule easier and faster so they can take control of their time and focus on what matters most.
So whether you’re brand new to remote working or you want to step your game up – here’s a great starter guide on how to transition.
1. Take control over your time
When you transition to remote working, the first thing you’ll notice is the time.
You’re suddenly not constrained by the 9 to 5 block of time that most people have at the office. You can work almost anytime, anywhere! That’s great, but if you’re not careful that can turn into not working very much, anywhere. Or, potentially even worse, working all the time, everywhere.
Both are bad outcomes.
The first thing you need to master as a remote worker is your time. What you do with it, where you spend it and how you schedule it. Because if you don’t schedule your time intentionally – someone else will do it for you and it might not lead to a day, week or life that you like.
We discovered in our 2019 year in review study that meeting times peak at 11am-1pm – so being intentional about setting aside a block of focus time – before 9am is the best way for you to make sure that you’re able to be proactive about the thing that you want to schedule.
You can take this to its limit by becoming a master time blocker, but even just starting with a good 30-60 minute focus block before 9am is the best way to get started on making sure you’re intentional about where you’re spending your time and your day.
2. Over-communicate everything
When in doubt, over-communicate. Everything.
Being remote means you’re immediately missing all the unintentional face time you had with your co-workers. And people can’t just assume you’re working when they see you.
This is actually a great thing for productive workers as it automatically lets you prioritize your work, and do what you want on your schedule.
But you have to communicate what you’re doing a lot more. Even if you’re doing fantastic work, people might not know! So be sure to over-communicate and keep people updated about what you’re doing.
Be intentional about making sure everyone is on the same page. Turn phone calls into video calls if you can – it done a lot to clear up miscommunication that might happen when you can’t see someone’s face. Find excuses to send updates and be more explicit about what exactly you’re working on (more on that in a second).
3. Use the Remote Work Trinity
As we all know, future of work tools are not allowed to be more than 5 letters. In keeping with this, let me introduce what will be known as the Remote Work Trinity:
Communicate anywhere, anytime on the fly with slack. If you’re not using slack in 2020, I don’t know what to tell you. Slack just works and for anyone drowning in email – it’s been a godsend. Work more efficiently and ditch your email.
Zoom just works. There’s been video since Skype, but Zoom won because it just works. No weird audio issues, no glitchy picture problems. They just work (and ran an impressive IPO to boot).
Hey, that’s us! Remote work means you sometimes miss out on the casual side conversations, and makes it more important to schedule real time with people. Woven makes it easy to schedule with anyone, anywhere, directly from your calendar or iMessage. Sync all your calendars in one spot, send direct scheduling links, and use templates to schedule complex team meetings in seconds.
Pro tip: If you have work & home duties and need to block time off for each, sync both your work and home accounts to Woven and put the calendars you have to attend as “My Time” calendars – Woven will combine your family and work availabilities so you can make sure you’re taking care of home before you get back to work.
Plus, the new analytics feature that shows you exactly where you’re spending your time is easily becoming my personal favorite part of Woven.
We built a list of our favorite apps for productivity here if you need more ideas.
4. Upgrade your workstation
If you’re going to work remotely, you need to make sure your home setup rivals the one you had at work.
If you’re starting from scratch, here are a few things to get you going:
- External Monitor (don’t waste time squinting at a laptop screen)
- Upgraded Webcam (this Logitech one is surprisingly good for the price)
- Upgraded Light (I use the Elgato Key Light)
I did not realize how bad the MacBook Pro’s camera was until I saw a comparison. Then I was blown away.
That said, if you have to upgrade one thing – upgrade your audio. There’s nothing worse than trying to do a call and having echos bounce around the room. For roughly $99, the the Audiotechnica ATR 2100x is a great utilitarian mic that upgrades your sound immediately. You can add rugs or even soundproof foam to absorb echos.
Obviously, with something as personal as your workspace, the rabbit hole goes deep quickly. There are whole subreddits dedicated to this, so go as far as your heart desires.
I also found these two guides that were particularly helpful when upgrading my own desk setup recently.
5. Template all the things
Once you go remote, you start realizing that a lot of things you just sort of “did” in person, now have to be scheduled. And, those events aren’t particularly difficult, or novel rather, but they can be complex.
Whether that’s an SOP for content publishing, pushing code, or scheduling a meeting, a template can help you save a ton of time.
And not to toot our own horn, but templates are one thing that Woven does amazingly well.
Just set up the fields (location, conferencing, participants, etc) you usually need for this kind of event, then use the template next time you schedule to instantly book the event.
Some creative uses Woven customers have found for templates:
- Standup invite at a non-regular time with multiple attendees (15 minutes, 15 minute buffer, Zoom conference line, “conference” tag).
- Workout at your local gym (1 hour, 15 minute buffer, @Atomic Athlete, color-red, “fitness” tag).
- Lunch at your favorite taco joint (1 hour, 15 minute buffer, @Veracruz, anytime between 11am & 2pm).
- Board meetings with multiple stakeholders and heavily scheduled people. (90 minutes, 30 minute buffer, @Battery Ventures, “board” tag).
- Coffee at your favorite Cafe (The Meteor, 1 hour, 15 minute buffer, anytime before noon, “coffee” tag).
- Movement (15 minute movement breaks, 15 minute buffer, color-red, “fitness” tag).
You can even color or tag these events automatically to gain more insight on how you’re spending your time each week.
Pro tip: If you want to supercharge templates, create one or two templates with multiple attendees from your team. Invite those people to Woven and ask them to share their availability with you. Then, use the “find a time” feature when creating an event from those templates. Woven’s smart AI will automatically show you what the best time for that meeting is across everyone’s calendar.
For more details on how to use templates, check out our full length guide Woven for Remote Workers here.
6. Move, move, move.
Just because you work remotely, doesn’t mean you have to sit at your desk all day. With no commute, office meandering, or location changes – you have to remind yourself to do this manually
It’s helpful to have some physical movement throughout the day, and it’s a great way to get away from the screen in order to problem solve, refresh and make space to think.
If you have multiple locations you work from (home, a co-working space and a coffee shop), you can also use the workstation popcorn strategy to time block yourself and get more done throughout the day.
7. Start a weekly & monthly report–and stick to it!
This falls under the over-communication point. Being remote, you have to make up for the lack of face-time.
Like I mentioned above, you lose all the day-to-day bumping into people, casual exchanges and updates. This can actually be good for productivity – the #1 cause of distraction in the workplace is other co-workers – but bad for keeping the team on the same page.
Fix this by sending a weekly report to your team of what you got done and where your projects are at.
It can be simple, but you can start by using this template.
- My main priority this week
- What I got done this week
- Biggest win
- Any major obstacles
- What needs to be done next
You can personalize this however you like, but essentially this becomes a forcing function that requires you to be clear about what you’re doing and actually communicate with your team.
Want to start working remotely?
If your company currently doesn’t allow remote work and you want to find somewhere that does, here are some of the top job boards, specifically embracing remote work.
The world is changing fast. We’re helping pave the way. Stay safe, work hard and remember to spend time with those that matter most.
Other remote work guides
- David Perrell has a great twitter thread for remote teams here and some tactical tips here.
- Sahil at Gumroad has a good tweet storm here.
- This series of guides on remote work from Doist.
- If there are other guides we should include, let us know.