In 1999, Chuck Palaniuk’s novel came out with the same name as the famous movie Fight Club. The story is a critique of alienation and needless consumerism at the core of society. And this critique starts with two prominent examples: pre-made, repeatable, furniture by Ikea and working in an office. More precisely, in those colossal office rooms with hundreds of employees stuck in the same, identical, white cubicle for eight hours a day.
If you know the movie, you know how the story goes. Avoiding spoilers, the narrator is an automobile recall specialist surviving his days between working in that famous white cubicle and faking diseases in supporting groups to fight insomnia. Until he met Tyrel Durden, the soap salesman. These two create a fight club to escape this exhausting routine, when the situation goes out of hand. The fight club turns into a terrorist group with the sole scope of destroying a massive building full of offices, a symbol of this alienating life we all end up living.
Of course, we can all imagine more alternatives to avoid office life than blowing up an entire building. Plus, bringing our conversation back to reality, the 2020 global pandemic made the most of us try out one of the most suitable alternatives: working from home.
Even post-pandemic, virtual teams seem to be one of the best solutions for many companies such as Twitter or Facebook. If a company can save money and widen the talent pool, remote workers can skip hours in the traffic and customize their workspaces based on their work-life balance. Despite being forced to stay home, working from home sounds like a win-win for all.
How to Work From Home?
One thing is listing all the benefits of virtual teams, another is being a remote worker in pandemic times. Working from home is different from an office, and it requires some preparation.
Remote work was already happening far before the advent of COVID-19, offering an alternative solution for both employers and employees. Before the quarantine era, most remote workers didn’t necessarily work from home but in co-working spaces or cafes. Being in remote mode means having a customizable working area, which of course, can also be your kitchen table.
In these times of lockdown and restrictions, it can be hard to keep a healthy separation between work and life – it’s ok; we all struggle when most of the daily routine happens at home.
In Fight Club, the club members have strict and specific survival rules that everyone has to follow without exception. The scope of these rules was directed at preserving the club and, more importantly, suggesting a behavioral code to keep the fight going on for as long as possible.
Inspired by these rules, here are the work from home basics you need to know:
Work from home Basics
- You don’t talk about the Remote Work club
Don’t talk about what you don’t know. If you are new to remote work, say it and ask what you need for the role. If your company is transitioning from an office setting to remote, the first step is to get all the tools and programs ready. As obvious as it sounds, technology is the key to work from home effectively.
You can’t work from home without the right tools for a long time – at least not without developing a taste for murder. When you start a new remote job, the first thing is to not pretend that you know how to use all the tools and programs. It will show immediately, and it will slow down your team. Be honest and say it; make sure to have everything you need and start practicing.
- You don’t talk about how to work from home.
If you don’t know much about how the company is working remotely, don’t make assumptions. Study their documentation and ask.
In virtual teams, communication is crucial, but you can’t ask about every little thing anytime you need something. That’s why one of the milestones of remote work is documenting and reporting. Before starting, find the internal documentation and read about company culture.
Ask about how they organize their workflow and any doubts about how to use tools or keep track of tasks. Let the others show you the tools as they would show you around the office.
It may be frustrating, but especially in the beginning, slowing down to understand how everything works will increase not only your productivity but your bonds with the team!
TAKEAWAY: ‘Come to a meeting 15 minutes in advance, prepare all the technology, and treat the interview as it’s happening in person. Remote employers expect more, not less. No one wants non-committal employees. Don’t act like an independent service provider.’“Surviving Remote Work” by Sharon Koifman, President of DistantJob
- When someone says stop, or taps out, or goes limp, work from home is over.
When you feel overwhelmed and start procrastinating your tasks, it is time to take a deep breath and stop. Burnout and low performance can happen to anyone. When you work from home, it is essential to keep track of your stress level and book time off for your hobbies.
The effort you put into meeting your tasks and for your hobbies should be the same. When you start your remote job, try to separate your working area from the rest of the house. Physical partitioning of the house will help you in separating when to work and when to relax. We all know that can’t always happen and some working days will end up busier than others. That’s fine, but it is not an excuse. Make sure that ‘being too busy’ for yourself is an exception and not the norm!
- Only two guys to a (remote work) fight.
If you need two guys for a fight, you need a team to get the work done. Some remote positions don’t actually require teamwork, but you always need to keep communication open to track company targets. Whether a solitary remote worker or a virtual team member, establishing good communication with your manager and team is essential.
One of the biggest stereotypes with virtual teams is isolation and loneliness. Of course, working from home can be isolating, but not because you don’t talk with your virtual team. Participate in video calls, be active in a group chat and, above all, ask if you have any doubts. As soon as you get used to communicating through a screen, you will bond with your team and eventually find good friends around the globe!
- One task at a time when working from home.
Don’t overwhelm yourself: set realistic goals and break tasks into microtasks. That’s crucial for your workflow. As we said, the risk is postponing your hobbies until you forget you have any. As obvious as it sounds, this method helps organize the work and schedule what you can do without skipping your favorite yoga class!
- They remote work from home without shirts or shoes.
A remote job doesn’t mean working in PJs. It can happen some days, but a remote position is a job position, and you should dress like for an ordinary working day. Not only because it helps in keeping a healthy life-work balance, but also because it gives a more professional impression to your colleagues. It shows you care, and you aren’t so lazy that you even didn’t wash your face in the morning.
A small gesture for a big result!
- The adaptation to remote work goes on as long as it has to.
Set and experiment with your schedule. Remote workers are more productive and sometimes work longer hours because they can often schedule their working week as they please. Most remote companies look at deliveries rather than working hours. So, when you learn how to break your tasks, make sure to organize chunks of work for a minimum of 3 hours. During these hours, avoid any distractions, from people to cats to games. During this time, your only duty is to work. And when you have done, you are done. That’s the deal.
- If this is your first night at remote work club, you have to work.
Once you are on board, you gotta work. If you are transitioning from on-site or working fully remote, being proactive and reaching out to your virtual team is always a winning card. And that’s all you need to be a good member and colleague.
Being proactive and communicating are essential in virtual teams. You cannot just spy on what others are doing and take inspiration. You need to ask and make any interaction clear. Especially if you are new in remote work settings, the beginning can be quite challenging, getting used to tech, schedule, and new team. Still, do the best you can and show that you are there, even if you can’t do much in the present moment.
Practice makes perfect, so just be patient and keep working on it!
Remote Work Survival Guide
To recap, here is our best advice to adapt to remote work and start working from home effectively:
- Get your all tech ready for the job
- Study the company culture and be accountable to your team
- Create a distraction-free spot
- Separated your working area from the rest of the house
- Favor microtasks over procrastination and burnouts
- Build a routine that includes your hobbies and free time
- Dress up for work every day
- Show you care
Some extra tips from remote work experts:
- Go for walks outside; it really helps for new ideas!
- As we mention, remote work means to have a customizable office, for you and your team. If you need to brainstorm with one of your colleagues, you can organize a virtual walk together or a poker night to talk about the next project. None ever said that you should bury yourself at home to be productive, get creative with it!
- Get in shape. Staying home can make you feel lazy and slow until you bring this demotivated attitude at work. Training is one of the best ways to fight these feelings and energize the body. Plus, the more you train, the more satisfied you will be with your results!
- Learning an instrument or a new language – ok, not everyone loves sport. Still, this isn’t an excuse to find distracting activities at home. There are tons of funny apps to learn how to play or a new language. These activities will energize your mind as much as sports energize your body!
That’s it, follow the rules, and get ready to start!
Last but not Least
Coming from an office setting, sometimes remote work can feel like a surrogate of the ones based on the office. Especially after this pandemic, no one can get away perpetuating this stereotype anymore. Virtual teams and managers expect from their employees the same level of effort expected in an office. When you interview for a remote job, discuss the value you could bring to the company, even if you are new to the remote world, and ask questions to learn about the company culture.
When you start with a new remote position, put in the same level of effort you would put into any other job. Work on your tasks, dress up for meetings, and be proactive with your virtual team. The point is not working less but adapting your job to your passions and daily life. That’s the game-changer deal.
It may take a while to get used to technology and video calls, but it will be a win-win for both employees and employers in the long run.