Written by Samantha Colby
We asked the fully-remote team at HRchitect what their challenges were when transitioning to working from home (WFH) for the first time, and what advice they’d give to those working remotely for the first time. Here’s what they had to share.
- My biggest challenge was recognizing when I needed socialization with co-workers throughout the workday. Then the challenge was doing something to make that socialization happen, like setting up a call with someone and making sure to take time to chat about things other than work – sort of like a virtual water cooler.
- For a first-time remote worker, I’d stress the importance of getting dressed in the morning, even if you just put on athletic clothes. Staying in your pajamas all day makes it harder to be productive, at least in my personal experience.
- Try to keep normal office hours as much as possible, to ensure that you do not let work dominate your family time outside of office hours. There may occasionally be times when you may need to work on evenings and weekends, but do not let that become the norm.
- It took a little while for me to appreciate that not everything needs to be done 100% digitally. Picking up the phone and talking with others directly is a must.
- An introvert’s take: The social aspect of work can be limited, depending on the type of work that you do. For an introvert like me, it can be easy to become a hermit. I have to work to find other outlets to be social in person, outside of work.
- An extrovert’s take: I’m an extroverted person, so working alone in an office without other people was hard for me, as I was used to having work friends that I could grab lunch with or hang out with. I’ve learned to be more intentional with my free time to make social time a priority in my personal life. I also value the in-person opportunities I get to have with my current team much more than I think I would if I saw them every day at an office.
- My biggest challenge, at first, was feeling like I needed my boss and colleagues to always know that I was working, so I overcompensated by constantly sending emails for visibility. Over time, I realized that the best way to achieve visibility was to just get my projects done, as that was my actual work. I learned to send emails when it made sense to communicate information, not just for the sake of sending emails.
- If your have the lead time to do so, talk with other people who work remotely before you start your remote role. That’ll help you get ideas to set up your remote work environment and habits so you can hit the ground running when you officially start.
- Boundaries are important for work/life balance. It helped me to learn to treat my office hours like “regular” office hours. When my workday ends, unless I happen to be working on a time sensitive project or task, and I am not in my home office, I make it a point to be “off” and not checking emails or taking calls.
- It’s important to have a desk and a specified work area. You’ll be much more productive at a desk than at your dining room table or your couch.
- Experiment with time management techniques and task management tools. Combine those tools and techniques with the mentality that you’re not on vacation, and you’ll be unstoppable.
- Get up and take breaks! Whether it’s a long walk at lunch, or getting up to refill a glass of water, don’t let yourself become overly sedentary and glued to your desk chair.
- Set boundaries with your family. Set a work schedule and communicate that to them so they’re aware that between X a.m. and Y p.m., when you’re at your workspace, you are working and shouldn’t be disturbed.
If you’re working remotely for the first time, whether you’re a team lead, individual contributor, or an executive, we hope that the lessons our team learned when they joined our established remote team help you to have a smoother transition to working remotely.
About Samantha Colby
Samantha Colby is the Marketing Director at HRchitect. Samantha has a background in B2B and B2C marketing in a range of industries including consulting, higher education, and sports and entertainment. When not preparing for upcoming trade shows or analyzing recent marketing campaign performance, Samantha can be found following Boston-based sports teams or reading a book from the local library.