Fully remote companies like Automattic, Zapier, Buffer, Toggl, and Stripe have demonstrated that the success of a company does not depend on the hours spent at the office. More and more companies allow their employees to work from home - now, due to the coronavirus outbreak, more than ever.
Our very own Valentina Thörner - the Head of Product at Klaus and an experienced remote leadership trainer - created a comprehensive overview of the most useful remote work tools and hacks to try out while working from home. This will help your team make the most out of their working hours while keeping a healthy balance with their personal life (even if quarantined at their own homes).
Valentina has years of experience in leading and teaching remote teams. She knows how to create routines that stick, build processes that scale and bring productivity to all activities.
Here are the most important remote work tools, as brought to you by Valentina.
Communication (and work)
Now more than ever, it’s important to stay in touch with your colleagues and your loved ones. Text messages are great for quick updates but that alone will probably not be enough.
- To create real connections, get on video calls. I’ve had good experiences with whereby and Zoom. If you aren’t worried about sharing your phone number or email address, Google Hangouts and Whatsapp calls can also work on a smaller scale.
- Use Doodle to quickly find a time that works for all of you (if you don’t have joint calendars yet).
- Make ample use of the internal chat solution in your company. Slack is a popular choice (and the free plan works perfectly for smaller groups of people). Discord, with its mobile and desktop app, is also a feasible alternative.
Create channels for each project you are collaborating on and make sure to add channels around non-work related topics where people can share their memes and unrelated resources.
- Think about creating a chat instance for friends and family, too!
Whether you are on a remote team for the first time, or you’ve been doing this forever, now is a good time to make sure you start/continue weekly (or at a minimum biweekly) team meetings, and at least one team member-manager meeting per week or biweekly. Use this time to share what you’ve been working on, what current challenges are and how you are currently living through the crisis in your area.
Being worried about a crisis situation will impact your productivity because it takes away valuable focus energy from your brain. Acknowledging this fact will lessen the additional impact that feeling guilty can have.
When staying at home, it’s easy to overwork, or not to get out of bed at all - mostly depending on how you usually cope with stress. Having a strategic plan in hand will help you organize your duties during the day.
- Plan your day, define when you are starting (and stopping!) your workday.
- Plan for breaks, and define your priorities for today. Share those priorities with the team. Check what they are working on and help each other out.
At Klaus we use Geekbot to plan our days via Slack, a quick search in any search engine (for added privacy, use duckduckgo.com) can help you find solutions for whichever communication tool you use. Search for “daily standup + [your tool]”.
- Use a time tracker like Toggl to register (at the very minimum) when you log on and off, or go more granular and track every task that you do.
- To make sure you don’t miss out on any tasks - Todoist is a tested solution that can pull together both your personal as well as your professional tasks into one overview (just create different projects for them).
Planning ahead and keeping track of your progress will help you organize your work - and also teach you about your own capabilities and boundaries. A systematic approach on your own time management helps you maximize the most productive parts of the day and still leaves you with enough downtime.
If you’re an active person, make sure to add some home-exercise into your daily routine. If you have been wanting to work out, now is a great moment to start slowly and build up resistance. Exercise does wonders for your brain and immune system - and you don’t need to run a marathon to get those effects.
Here’s how to stay healthy while staying (close to) home:
- Get one of the many 7-min workout apps and try to do 1-2 workouts every other day. I use the Johnson & Johnson (free) workout, available for iPhone and Android.
- Start meal planning with what you have at home and search for new recipes online. Most recipe databases allow you to filter for specific ingredients - so instead of making the same “rice with lentils” every day, start experimenting with what is in your fridge already. This website can help: The Fridge Decider.
Once you kick off your new healthy habits, you’ll discover that there are so many exciting things to try out without leaving home. Who knew!
If you’d like to read more about remote work and leadership, take a look at these resources:
- From a Distance - A Practical Guide To Remote Leadership
- Remote Work at Scale
- Quick, work remote! Guide
- The Art of Working Remotely
Working from home or enjoying the life of a digital nomad can have an amazing impact on your productivity and creativity. Whether you work at a fully remote company or are staying home temporarily, the right remote work tools will help you stay on top of things - making sure that neither newly found inspiration nor good old laziness will never get the best of you.
Stay safe and wash your hands!