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2020 has been a year defined by the Coronavirus outbreak.  With hundreds of thousands of cases worldwide, and over 3000 reported deaths, nothing has shaped the way we are living more than this epidemic. 

Much like the flu, COVID-19 is spread through human-to-human contact through respiratory droplets, most commonly transmitted through coughing.  Prevention methods such as using hand sanitizer and frequent hand washing help limit you and your team’s chances of getting the Coronavirus, but many businesses are also implementing remote working strategies to protect their employees in the midst of uncertainty about the disease.

You may be asked to work from home rather than spend time in an office where the Coronavirus is potentially spreading since an increasing numbers of countries are implementing quarantines and other lockdown measures. But how do you do so comfortably and productively?

A remote-first company, the AirSend team has members on every continent in addition to its Austin headquarters. In fact, AirSend itself was created by condensing our hands-on remote work experience into an all-in-one remote work tool. Here are some remote working tips from a remote team that will help you and your organization continue to be productive while working from home.

Tip #1: Have Core Working Hours

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One of the benefits of remote working is that it allows you and your team to set your own hours. Everyone is different. Some are most productive in the morning while others do their best work in the evening – and that’s great. But balance must be achieved in order to keep things moving.

Establishing a window in which employees are required to be at their screens and ready to communicate, either by phone, screen-sharing, or video conferencing, will help promote teamwork and workplace structure. Core working hours cut down on time spent waiting for email replies or for someone to get back to a computer to verify something while maintaining some of the flexibility that would be less available in an in-office environment.

Tip #2: Promote Discipline

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While the office is a space designed for working, you and your team’s homes may be somewhat less so. Leaving an office environment to work at home can invite all sorts of distractions if you and your team aren’t accustomed to it. Here’s a short checklist to implement to promote discipline while working remotely:

  • Set reasonable wake up hours and regiment your day
  • Have an appropriate workstation where you can work without sinking into the couch
  • Schedule your breaks so that you don’t end up taking too many breaks or breaks that are too long

In addition to encouraging your team to follow the tips above, you should also provide them with the equipment they need to set up a comfortable home office. This includes items like desks, chairs, computers, headphones, cameras, and helpful software such as a digital workspace.

Tip #3: Encourage Team Spirit

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Employee morale is important, especially when a team is working remotely. By having team members regularly socialize like they would in an office environment, people working remotely will have a more positive outlook on their work and will be more productive. 

Organize weekly or bi-weekly functions through video conferencing where team members can let off some steam and talk casually with each other, and validate hard work though awards and incentives.  Acknowledging effort can be difficult if you aren’t face-to-face with someone, so find time to show recognition through video conferencing events.

Tip #4: Track Team Progress With Clearly Communicated Goals

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As mentioned before, when team members are left to their own devices, work can stagnate as a result of distraction and lack of structure.  Having consistent contact with your team through weekly briefings where goals and duties are assigned and deadlines are set can help.

You can also use team management apps with progress tracking, such as AirSend. AirSend lets you assign work to different members of a team with deadlines and reminders. This keeps everyone on track even without in-person meetings.

As a remote-first team, we use AirSend and OKRs to keep everyone moving in the right direction. OKR stands for “Objectives and Key Results,” and setting and communicating OKRs can help your team stay motivated and on track.

Tip #5: Hire the Right People

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At the end of the day, the strength of your team boils down to the ability of each individual team member to work remotely with minimal supervision. This is why it is doubly important to hire motivated self-starters when facing a remote working situation.

Some people are naturally good at this or have prior experience, while others need to be trained. Since a newly implemented, experimental working environment is not the easiest place to train employees, be sure to hire people with past experience and success with remote working if you need to hire now.

Staying Safe During the Coronavirus Outbreak

In the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak, remote working may be the best option to minimize transmission. However, when we allow ourselves and our employees to work at home, some level of structure and office culture must be sustained to keep everyone at the top of their game. Using these tips, you should be better prepared to organize your workforce accordingly and help minimize the spread of COVID-19.