Employee Tips for Working Remotely

There are indeed real benefits to working remotely, but there are also big challenges to overcome, especially if this is the first opportunity you’ve had to work from home. To help ease the transition while also helping to make your remote work experience as productive and successful as it can be, we’ve put together some top suggestions for working from home.

Before getting started, all CalArts employees must review/complete the Human Resources Checklist and Telecommuting Technology Checklist.

  1. Have a dedicated workspace in your home   Those who are fortunate enough to have a guest room or spare room to turn into an office have a natural spot to transform into an effective workspace.  Even if you live in less spacious quarters, having a specific place to work is paramount to success—even if it's just a corner of a living room or bedroom or the kitchen table. Ensure your tools are handy—your computer, headphones for webinars or videoconferences, your notebook/notepad and pens/pencils. Do what you can to make your workspace at home as comfortable and functional as possible.  
  2. Create your video studio   Videoconferences will become more and more common during this transition.  Be sure that you are showing your colleagues and office mates what you want them to see. Make sure to have a professional or plain background behind you and dress and groom professionally—at least the parts of you that others will see onscreen! Check that you have adequate lighting and a decent microphone (most earbuds work just fine). 

3. Communicate with your team and supervisor

We have a multitude of ways to communicate with one another! In addition to the telephone and email, use Slack or instant message via Google Chat/Hangouts. Get “face-to-face” utilizing Zoom or Google Meet.

Visit the CAIT home page for more information.

  4. Utilize to-do lists   Every morning, it's useful to have a to-do list of things you hope to get done that day/week to keep you focused and on track. Share your lists/goals with your supervisor and/or team depending upon task or project. If you prefer using technology for your to-do list, then check out already-available tools such as Google Tasks to keep track of your projects and to-dos. The Task list resides at the right side of your inbox window; it’s the third icon down and looks like a little white bar with a yellow dot on the left. If you have any questions, please email CAIT@calarts.edu.

5. Deal with distractions well

Anyone working from home inevitably gets distracted, and it can be even harder if you have family who is around because of the COVID-19 restrictions. However, try to keep yourself from getting distracted in the same ways you did at work: tuning out background noise, using a white noise machine, listening to music, and so on. As you find out how long it takes you to get certain things done when you're working from home, build those new expectations into your schedule. That will help you get more productive over time.

Set boundaries with your family (and self): Just because you’re home, doesn’t mean you’re available.


6. Take breaks 

When you live where you work, it's even more important to get out of your workspace at times during the day. The COVID-19 outbreak poses a challenge, but even a few breaks each day to take a walk around the block or take your lunch out to the back patio to eat can make a huge difference to your mindset.
    7. Dealing with being disconnected

We’re lucky to have Slack, Zoom, Google Meet, and other videoconference tools that give us that face-to-face communication some conversations just require.  Seeing one another also helps keep the feelings of social isolation at bay, a side effect of the times in which we currently live.  All CalArts employees have access to these tools, please visit the CAIT homepage for more information.

   8.  Preparing mentally for your workday

Yes, working at home can mean rolling out of bed and working in your pajamas. But does that really put you in the right work mindset?  Instead, when you get up, follow a modified version of your morning routine.

Do all the things you'd do to prepare for an office role: Set your alarm, make (or go get) coffee, and get dressed. The mental association you make between work and an office can make you more productive, and there's no reason that feeling should be lost when telecommuting.

   9. Set goalsand beat them

To keep yourself motivated, it's helpful to set some aspirational goals for how much work you hope to get done in a given day. Keep records of what you do, and then see if you can top your personal best from day to day.

   10. Cut yourself some slack At first, you may not be as efficient or productive in getting work done from home as you were at the office. Don't get down on yourself because of that. Do the best you can, and start each day with the can-do attitude that is that hallmark of all CalArts employees.

Good luck!

If you're working from home for the first time and it has you in a near-panic, you're not alone. Just about every remote worker went through what you're going through. 

Have the confidence to know that you will get through this tough stage soon, working remotely will feel just as comfortable as working in the office or classroom.

Recommended Viewing / Reading

Remote Working: Setting Yourself and Your Teams Up for Success

“Better with Phoebe”: Working from Home - 10 proven tips for productive remote work

Business Insider article with several links: How to work from home during the coronavirus outbreak