So you’ve been sent home to quarantine with a computer and a cell phone during the COVID-19 lockdown.  How can you stay productive, creative, inspired, and live up to all of the expectations you weren’t expecting?

As a fully-remote company ourselves, Charley Grey has a few tips and tricks up our sleeves for remote work beginners.

1. Over-communicate

This doesn’t mean call everyone 32 times a day or sit on a video chat ALL DAY, but the key to being successful in any professional role (or personal relationship) is communication. And when you’re working remotely, it is an even more important asset. Since you’re no longer a few desks down from your coworkers, it’s your job to schedule check-in meetings to connect on your goals, upcoming projects, and daily tasks.

We have a standing staff call every day at 8:30 am. We talk about the day before – what goals we reached, which ones we did not, where we need help, and what our plan of attack for the day is.

It’s important to advocate for yourself and encourage others to do the same during these calls.  Clearly state the progress you’re making and set realistic expectations.  And during this lockdown, remember that life is very different, very difficult, and therefore give yourself and your team plenty of mental health room.

2. Invest in reliable tech

Any remote worker will tell you that access to consistent and fast WiFi is integral to their success, but there’s more to a successful setup than an internet connection. Along with having the ability to make video calls without losing connection, you should consider what tools you’ll need to do your job. Do you need a great pair of noise-canceling headphones to block out that singing child in the background? What about a second screen or wireless devices so you can move about? A desktop coffee warmer?

3. Get dressed

Seriously. It’s easy to get excited about sweatpants and t-shirts, but getting dressed in real clothes triggers your brain that it’s time to work. No need for that suit and tie, but pull out your business casual gear and feel good about the day.  Oh, and don’t forget your pants. You don’t want to have to get up during a Zoom call to grab a file from the other side of the room without them…

4. Lean on your community and each other

Seriously. And especially now when we are supposed to be making essential trips only.  Working remotely can be lonely. To make sure that you’re feeling supported and connected to the “real world”, we recommend checking in with other adults via Hangouts or Zoom.  It’s not the same as kicking back with an adult beverage with your bestie, but it works. We’ve found that being surrounded by others who are successfully working remotely inspires others to stay the course and remain productive…and sane.

5. Consider your workspace

If your space allows for it, set up a private space with good lighting and aromatherapy (hey, Karen isn’t here anymore to tell you she can’t stand the smell of well, EVERYTHING). You will want a comfortable space where you can focus on the tasks at hand. Get a comfortable desk and chair and make sure that you feel motivated by your environment and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.

6. Figure out your working style

At the start of your remote work journey, it’s a great idea to figure out the environment that you need to work successfully. For example, do you like music in the background or silence? Windows or four walls?  Other things to consider are whether you’re more productive in the morning or in the evening and whether you’re motivated by taking small breaks throughout the day or a longer midday respite. This is the beauty of remote work – getting to work during your best hours, whatever they may be.

7. Take time for self-care

When the line between “work” and “home” starts to blur, you might find yourself stuck to your computer screen for a longer period of time (it is after 9 pm as I bust this blog out after all). While that can sometimes be necessary when closing a major deal or finalizing an important presentation, give yourself time for, well, you. Commit to your fitness routine and make sure that you’re creating blocks in your schedule to eat healthily and take breaks so that you can be focused and productive when you need to be.

The benefits of remote work can stretch into your life outside of work as well. With increased flexibility, you can take time to make sure you’re not missing life’s important moments. As a remote worker, you can take care of your kids without worrying about leaving the office during standard business hours, you can decide to work from any location around the world (when we are allowed to leave again), and you can even sneak in that much-needed power nap without losing any time “at work.”

8. Know when to “log off”

This can be one of the most challenging aspects of remote work. Though you may receive emails, texts, and chat notifications at any hour, it’s important to develop a habit of setting a time when you officially “log off” for the night. The best part of working remotely is having the flexibility to work when you are most productive, so be careful about setting the standard that you are available 24/7.  And don’t forget – your family needs you. You need you. The work will still be there in the morning.

9. Embrace the perks of working remotely

Working remotely might have been forced on you due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and a lot of you will return to the office someday.  But, for some of you – I think you’ll realize that not only does working remotely save overhead expenses, it is also very rewarding and productive.

Now that you’re working remotely, life will look a little bit different. It will take some adjusting. However, if you rely on the nine tips that we’ve listed above, the transition to a flexible work style will be smooth and successful.

Cheers to you, your health, and the success of your business!