The JPI Group’s Guide to a Successful Virtual Workforce: Installment #1

Are you having to navigate working remotely for the first time? Are you struggling to stay productive working from home? Employers across the country are encouraging or requiring people to work from home and for many workers, this is a new challenge. If you’re new to the remote work lifestyle, you’ll need to change some of your habits to make it a success

1. Setup a designated work area

It extremely important to have an area designated just for work. Even if you move around and work in different areas of the home throughout the day, you will need an office or desk space for focused work. Make sure members of your household understand that when you are working in this space, you should not be interrupted.

2. Outfit your work area with the proper supplies

A well-appointed workspace will make you more productive and comfortable working from home. Necessary equipment may include:

  • Second monitor
  • Docking station or connector for second monitor
  • Laptop stand
  • Wireless mouse and keyboard
  • Ergonomic desk chair
  • Blue light reduction glasses: help with eye fatigue
  • Noise canceling headset or headphones
  • Adequate lighting
  • Printer and scanner

3. Maintain regular hours

Your employer may dictate core working hours during which you must be available. If you have flexibility, learn when you do your most productive work and schedule accordingly. Regular working hours do not have to be 8-5. One of the benefits of working remotely is that you can build work into your personal life. Are you able to power through a task list in the early morning but do your best creative work in the evenings? Set your schedule accordingly and keep that schedule consistent. 

4. Establish a morning routine

Now that you don’t have to rush to get out the door for your morning commute, it is important to establish a morning routine and set a consistent start time for your days. Creating a morning routine will help you be purposeful with your days and delineate between workday mornings and weekend mornings so that you can jumpstart your workdays.

5. Plan out your day

When working from home, the key to success is creating structure. In the absence of the structure provided by working with colleagues in an office, you must be diligent in creating structure at home. At the beginning or end of each week and/or each day, list out critical tasks and block off time on your calendar each day to get them completed. 

6. SCHEDULE BREAKS!

It is important to schedule lunch breaks and coffee/walking breaks. Just like any job, make sure you are taking 30-60 minutes away from your computer. This will make you more productive overall. Try to take at least 2 other breaks around 15-20 minutes during the day as well.

7.Set ground rules with your team

Make sure your team members know how you best communicate during office hours, and even out of office hours if there is an emergency (phone calls, text, email etc.). Also, make sure you set boundaries such as, do not call/text me before 7 AM and after 8 PM as those may be hours designated for family-time.

8.Set up a separate phone number for work

We suggest setting up a Google Voice number to share with colleagues and/or clients. During the setup, you can have those calls forwarded to your cell phone, but you can still maintain a separate number. You can also have set hours where if someone is calling your Google Voice number after your core work hours, it will go to voicemail and not ring through to your personal phone. Using Google Voice, you can also block calling outside of your designated core work hours by having the calls sent directly to voicemail.

9. “Show up” to meetings

Now that you are home, you must rely on email, phone calls, and sometimes video calls to communicate with your team. This leaves a lot of room for people to misinterpret your intention since you are not face-to-face. Make sure you take the time to connect with your colleagues on a personal level to build and maintain trust. This will limit misunderstandings within your team. Continuously, using video conference calls has helped us  build rapport and trust within our team. However,  this only works if everyone participates. Speak up when you have questions or ideas. Even a simple greeting to start off a call or a “Thanks everyone, have a great day!” to end a call can go a long way.

10. Establish an end-of-day routine

Just as you start your day with a routine, ending each day with one is also beneficial. It could be scheduling your tasks and reviewing your schedule for the next day. Or, something as simple as shutting down your computer and listening to your favorite podcast while doing so. Try to end your day around the same time every day and stay as consistent as possible.

Here at The JPI Group, we have been a 100% virtual company since we were founded over five years ago. After many mistakes and lessons learned, we’ve compiled a list of tips for making the transition to remote work. We’ve learned that there is no one-size-fits-all solution and as you start your remote work journey, you will need to find out what works best for you. This is what we share with all our new hires as they make the transition to working from home, many for the first time.