Top five tips for remote working, from remote workers

By Amy, Eastpoint Software on 24 March 2020

Everyone at Eastpoint is currently working remotely. Previously, we had a mix of remote and office working with flexibility for all staff to work from home. The following five tips were collected from the team and focus on the logistics of getting started as an employee working from home.

1. Create a clear separation between home life and work life  

We ask remote workers to have a purposeful area to work in, ideally with a door to act as a clear separation from the rest of the house. While that’s preferable, it might not be practical in situations where multiple people are now working from home.   

There are other ways to create this separation, our recommendations are:  

  • Put on your work/office clothes   
  • Use a screen if you cannot have your own room, and remove visual distractions  
  • Set boundaries and share your working schedule with your family/housemates to avoid interruptions 
  • Set boundaries to shut off from work and rest once the working day is over. Close the laptop. Working into the night will cause burn out (Eastpoint’s Oli suggests a visual clue at your desk, such as an analogue clock)  
  • Use noise cancelling headphones  
  • Use a dedicated work laptop

2. Ensure a comfortable and healthy environment  

As a tech consultancy with programmers often at their desks for long periods of time, we invested in Aeron chairs. If you don’t have a good office chair at home, you’ll soon notice.    

As well as a comfortable chair, your desk and monitor situation needs to be safe and comfortable. Is the monitor height correct? Do you have a separate keyboard? Do you have plenty of room to work and are cables tidied away?  

At work you are expected to take frequent breaks from looking at your monitor – every hour. Make sure to do this at home, too. If it’s sunny, go out in the garden and top up on vitamin d.  

Try to avoid the snack cupboard. Apparently, a lot of people don’t have a tote bag full of snacks under their desk at work but do snack at home?  

3. Communicate and connect  

Communication is important for team spirit and to maintain the same quality of work as if you were all sat together in a project room. It is our experience that being at home in a state of total concentration is sometimes preferable to an office environment.  

Insider tip: We like to add 10 minutes to the start of each meeting to chat. Working in isolation is new to most people, and we still crave human connections. Meetings need to be focused on work, and a 10 minute pre-meeting chat helps us get that. It also helps us to clear our minds ready to focus on the topic at hand. 

You will probably see this advice often – over communicate. Let your colleagues know when you are at lunch. If you’re not sure whether to update, do it anyway. Do you need a daily standup/group meeting? Would you prefer to call a colleague because chat has too much room for misinterpretation? Do more and be sure.  

Slack is a popular choice for remote communication, we also recommend Microsoft Teams which is currently free for six months (premium version).   

4. Focus on self-management  

Take this opportunity to improve self-management, set goals, and achieve. Set yourself lists/tasks to accomplish each day and a clear goal/ambition for the week. Remember that you are self-managing now and it's up to you to get the work done.  

Pack away games consoles if you can’t resist the temptation.  

5. Embrace the perks  

In difficult times we all try to remember the upside. The reason we had remote working in the first place was because it worked for us. Perks to ponder include:  

  • No commute means time and money saved  
  • More autonomy over your own time  
  • Complete the tasks that you kept getting distracted from in the office  
  • A greater sense of trust and responsibility among the team 
  • Appreciate connecting with your colleagues  
  • We work core hours, and outside of this remote working offers greater flexibility between work and life responsibilities  

Book recommendations 

To get in the right frame of mind for remote working, Eastpoint's Dan and John recommend the following:  

Atomic Habits by James Clear - how to break bad habits and create new habits.   

Remote by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson - how to work from home and create the right work/life balance. 

Deep work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport and Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal and Julie Li - for dealing with the new world of remote working (and the distractions that it brings) 

Getting things done, by David Allen – a classic