50+ Awesome Tips on How to Work Remotely

In unprecedented times, we do unprecedented things. We’re navigating through something we’ve never been through before. I’m sure some of you have questions on how to work remotely or working while your kids are at home. While we don’t have all the answers, we have some tips or tricks for you to get started.

There have been one thousand resources posted in the last few days because y’all are awesome. This is a guide on how to do it successfully, with or without kids, with some of our favorite tools we’ve used over the years. Our entire team works remotely, 100% of the time and so we’ve learned a thing or two that we’d like to share.

Below is a list of 50+ things to get you started, help you be successful, and give you a fighting chance to manage life, work and family all in one fell swoop. Let’s kick it. I’ll be adding to this list as I find new resources and new things to help.

The Setup
What tools do I use?
How do I maintain workplace culture?
How do I educate my kids and work?
Take on Personal & Professional Development
Health & Wellness Resources
Reliable Information

THE SETUP

  1. Set up your workstation. This seems silly, but working from bed or from the couch can kill your productivity quickly. Get the things you need and put them at your workstation: water, mouse, chargers, copious amounts of coffee, etc. Anything you would have at your regular desk, get it set up. Bonus points for making it pretty. 
  2. Get ready. Wake up and do like you would before work. Take a shower, brush your teeth, drink some coffee. I know this seems simple – but it changes the day from a lazy one to a productive one.
  3. Set a schedule. Set aside time for when you’ll be working and what you’ll be working on. But then, make time for a walk, eat lunch while reading a book or video chat with your friend at work who you normally kill time with.
  4. Download tools that will help you with your day. With the number of people working remotely, a ton of these companies are allowing extensions on free trials or giving you free access to the software. Take advantage and figure out what works for you.
  5. Set boundaries. When you work from home it is easy to be “on” all the time. It’s easy to get lost in your work and forget that you’re a person, a partner, a parent, etc. But you’ve got this, set a time for the day where you stop working or block off your work time within the schedule you made. Setting boundaries about where you work is important too. I mentioned above, do not work in bed. This is important for productivity and for your mind to be in the right place when you’re actually working.
  6. Prioritize your tasks. Your workday looks different now that you are working from home. You may have fewer meetings or virtual ones. Take the time to write down what you need to get done and do the highest priority items first. Someone much smarter than me wrote a blog post about that.
  7. Reevaluate your job and your work. These are tough times, it is not business as usual. Change your marketing strategy, change your offerings, help other people. This is going to be a strange time for every business.
  8. Adjust your expectations. Like I said above, not business as usual. Allow people to set new schedules, to work early in the morning or late at night. If these are the things that allow them to get work done, let them do it. But if you need people available during certain hours, set those expectations early on.
  9. Trust is essential here. If you’re not used to working remotely – it’s tough to adjust this. But trust your employees that they’ll do what they say. Structure this in a way that works for your company. We have a staff meeting and bi-weekly stand-ups to talk through what we’re all working on and any problems that exist. That is what works for us as a small company, there are other setups that may work for you.
  10. Manage up. Be proactive in communicating with your boss what you need, what would help you, and what you’re working on. On the flip – if you’re the boss – make sure you’re consistently checking in with employees. Keep them motivated, provide them with some great tools, and let them know you care.
  11. Give a shit. If you work somewhere that you love, you probably care whether the company does well or not. These are weird times where businesses are having to adjust their business model. You can help, so do it. Ideate, change the way business is conducted or change your offering.

THE TOOLS

  1. Trello. I love Trello. I use it for project management. Essentially using it to puke out all our marketing initiatives and set dates for when they need to be done. You can categorize, put it on a calendar and make it work for whatever you need. It has a ton of integrations, too. Bonus – Trello’s blog has a bunch of remote working tips as well.
  2. What do you use for communication? We’re team Slack over here. But whether you use that or Teams or some other kind of tool – stay connected. Stay sane. Send funny meme’s about COVID-19. 
  3. Miro. We use this like crazy. We don’t sit in a meeting room and whiteboard. They have a free version where you can have a few whiteboards, so try it for free and see what you think. You can collab on boards without having to sign up. Now you can whiteboard your little hearts out.
  4. You want to see each other? Cool. We use Google. But Slack has a video integration, so does Teams, so does Zoom. The list goes on. Find your favorite and use it. Look in the tips section for how to use these in a less “this is a meeting” way.
  5. Basecamp. I love Basecamp for project management. I use it for personal things and work things. They have a free personal version Basecamp 3 if you’re not ready to pull the trigger on the full version. They are also experts on how to work remotely – so a great resource for more tips.

TO MAINTAIN CULTURE

Culture is one of the most important aspects of work right now. You see companies hiring Chief Culture Officers and implementing policies that make it cool to come to work. The good news is, you can do the same thing when you work remotely. How? Some tips are below.

  1. Set up a virtual workspace. Have a room anyone can join at any time. This can allow for collaboration, brainstorming, and camaraderie. Bring your lunch, bring something to share, allow your kids to be involved. There are so many opportunities to share your life with your co-workers even when you’re away!
  2. Have a happy hour in your office? Have a virtual happy hour. Bring beer. Keep it light and fun. No, it’s not the same as an in-office happy hour, but it can elevate the mood and keep people going in uncertain times.
  3. Slack is a great tool for shouting out to coworkers, sending funny memes, or just asking questions when you don’t want to have a meeting.
  4. Get rid of unimportant meetings. No one needs their day filled up with things that just take time away from priorities. Reschedule things, reevaluate, revamp what working looks like to you.
  5. Set up 1:1’s with people that report to you or that you report to. Keeping in touch about what you’re working on is important. Yes – this can be done through a Slack message, but adding a personal touch and seeing someone’s face for 15 minutes can help keep people on the right track.
  6. Encourage an environment of open communication and feedback. You need to make employees comfortable in a remote setting. Transparency and frequent conversations are key.
  7. TEAM BUILDING! My co-working space sent over some ideas for virtual team building. I thought that was a great way for businesses to help other businesses. Hire someone to teach you a new skill, to do some good [in the case of Upcycling Colors], or just have some fun in this time of doubt.
  8. BONUS: Always provide value. Find out ways to help out in your community. For instance: buy gift cards to restaurants, order takeout, support local businesses, offer to help other businesses. Do you have a skill? What can you do to support your local economy? Do not resell toilet paper, find something that helps people and double down on that. For instance – do you want to take your business digital? We can help with that.

KIDS EDUCATION & ACTIVITIES

There are a ton of resources out there. Pinterest anyone? I’m going to help you out and narrow it down a little. Please know these are only a smattering of what’s available. Google away, friends. Beginning to work remotely is tough. Trying to also be an educator for your child is going to be doubly tough. Give yourself some love and patience at this time. Lean on other parents – even if it’s just through Facetime.

  1. Cincinnati Zoo live stream videos. Not sure if you like animals, but my kids certainly do. We learned all about Fiona and Rico the last couple days. The videos are available live or afterward to watch. Definitely something fun!
  2. Some Cool Printables: this is definitely a resource for littler kids. Our preschool uses these and my daughter loves them. Just something to get her tracing and thinking about letters. Even my Kindergarten kid jumps in.
  3. Virtual Museum Tours: At least try it. It’s not the real thing, but nothing’s the real thing right now – so try something new. Visit somewhere you’ve never been!
  4. Get Outside. Hike. Play. Kick a ball. Chalk. Do all the things.
  5. Scholastic Books: Offering free online courses for all ages. All centered around a certain theme and video. Very cool. My kids loved this.
  6. Your Public Library. Our Chicago branch is still open. Go stock up on books. Read to your kids or have them read. Have them fall in love with books. Follow it up with questions about what they read and make it fun!
  7. Turn cooking into teaching – it could be science (yeast!), math (adding cups together) or simply reading and finding the right ingredients. 

PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Continual learning is a huge part of our culture here at CIL. We are constantly trying to learn new skills, find better ways to do something, etc. There are tons of options when you want to work remotely and stream something from home!

  1. General Assembly – Offering all their programming remotely right now and it’s 25% off!
  2. Free Code Camp – Ivy Schools offering free online courses. I’m so into this. Get your learn on.
  3. Coursera – They always have some free courses, but their library is huge and full of ideas.
  4. LinkedIn has some great professional development courses for viewing. 
  5. Webinars. Everyone and their brother is hosting a webinar right now on topics ranging from Remote Work to SEO Strategies to Innovation in Uncertainty. Worth checking out.   
  6. Read a book – we have a list of 8!

HEALTH & WELLNESS

When you work remotely – it’s nice to get out and go to the gym. You can do some of that at home. Get after it and check the resources below for some ways to get and stay physically and mentally fit.

  1. Planet Fitness & LA Fitness bringing you the online fitness. Check your local gym – they may be doing it too. Fitness trainers are going online too.
  2. Get you zen on – Corepower Yoga is offering a week of free online classes. Namaste!
  3. Navigating Coronavirus can be trying on your mental health. Programs like Talkspace can help. They’re offering $100 off right now. Get after it.
  4. Nike Training Club App – offers some free classes that will get you moving.
  5. The only rule of CrossFit is talking about CrossFit. You can access free classes at home to keep you sweating!
  6. Go for a hike, for a long run outside, or just take your dog for a walk. The fresh air is cleansing and will help clear your head for the next round of kids + work + life.
  7. Gather up your co-workers and challenge City Innovation Labs in the Workplace Walking Challenge!

STAY INFORMED

It’s easy to fall into a trap of checking social media to find out what’s going on. Yeah, I do that too. However, better to check the real sources to find real information.

  1. WHO
  2. CDC
  3. Your State’s Department of Health

MORE RESOURCES

  1. The Paradox of a Remote Community
  2. Prioritizing Your To-Do List
  3. How to Make Remote Teamwork Work
  4. How to Stay Sane as a Stay at Home Mom

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