Being remotely productive

In this post, AlAnood Alshaikhsaad, a PGR from the Department of Theology and Religion, shares their advice on remote working from their experience as a distance learning PGR.

A sketch drawing of AlAnood's workstation
AlAnood’s home workstation

To me, remote working is all about time management and prioritizing your tasks. What people tend to miss after jumping from their on-ground non-stop jobs to remote working is the predictable tasking structure a corporate or institution provides. While the flexibility of remote work is one of its most appealing benefits, people are used to a certain routine, and routine can still exist within that flexibility. For example, waking up at a consistent time, getting dressed, fixing a pot of coffee, running through your to-do list, breaking for lunch at noon, scheduling virtual meetings in collaboration with fellow peers or supervisors. Once you define your routine more clearly, stick to it.

There is also a well-known workflow technique which simply breaks down your productivity into timed 25-minute intervals. After each 25-minute work period, you’re rewarded with a five-minute break. Once you complete four 25-minute sessions, you’re rewarded with a longer 20-minute break. Most importantly, keep in mind that productivity depends entirely on your positive thoughts and energy. Environment is everything in this stage. Being able to adjust your working environment to match your preferences and needs, which can help you to stay more relaxed and boost your morale.

Knowing your goals and getting yourself organized while using effective tools such as mind mapping and Gantt charts to keep your working pace coherent and consistent. Constantly record your work and plan virtual meetings with supervisors. Also, you will need to consider how your data will always be protected, and shared consciously. You will need access to information in order to get things done and maintain workflows. Remember that all data is not equal and you should prioritize what is needed now. Then rank the information by security level. It will typically fall within one of five categories: sensitive, confidential, private, proprietary, or public. Once you’ve mapped out your data requirements, it will be easier to synthesize that are already in place, and any critical data, consider security measures that can be implemented quickly, such as a virtual private network (VPN).

Consider effective collaboration, if you work in teams that are spread across multiple locations, which hinges on good communication. As a solution, identify how your teams will stay connected and set expectations. A sudden shift to non-synced communication can be jarring for anyone who is used to face-to-face interactions. Set expectations to help keep responses timely and predictable alongside with efficient information exchange. Create opportunities to connect and find ways for your peers to stay connected, share experiences, and pay attention to team communication channels and stay engaged. At the best of times, good communication means clarifying and adjusting messages as needed to avoid misunderstandings. In a dynamic situation, it’s even more important for supervisors and team leaders to answer questions, correct rumours, and listen.

What are your top tips for productivity in a new environment?  How have you maintained effective communication with your supervisory team?

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