The WhiteHat Guide to Remote Working

Mar 17, 2020

As we enter a world of remote working and training, you might feel a bit apprehensive. In this article, we outline our top tips for managing the transition to remote work and training, and how to embrace and thrive in your new set up through a combination of physical changes, behaviours and mindset. This guide should help you to improve your productivity and wellbeing and gain new perspectives for growth.

If you have tips, tricks, questions or reflections, comment below & be sure to share this with anyone you think could benefit from it!

#1 Consider your physical environment

As much as possible, try to replicate an office-like set up at home that fosters productivity - i.e. sit at a table rather than on your bed (this is also important to maintain good posture, which there’s more great guidance on here).

Avoid distractions like having the TV on in the background, checking messages and social media on your phone, etc. 

Having a mental and physical divide between your work and non-work spaces can help with focus during work time, and ensure you’re able to shut off and relax during non-work time. If you’re able to, avoid working in your bedroom as it can affect your ability to sleep well if you’re spending too much time in the space you sleep. 

Consider the other things you might want around you to keep you feeling positive and productive; indoor plants, proximity to natural light and opening a window can all help. Or try out Kim’s suggestions of burning essential oils and having music on quietly in the background that you know helps with your productivity.

#2 Establish a routine

It can be easy to not take a lunch break or carry on working really late when you’re working from home, but having structure to your day is important for your productivity and wellbeing, so consider what setup will work best for you and those you work with (remember to communicate to those you work with if you’re taking time offline so they don’t expect immediate responses).

Try to treat each day as you would have done a working day in the office, with a clear start and end time (which should flex according to your and your team’s priorities) and with regular breaks away from your work space e.g. to get lunch, go for a walk, or read a book. 

Part of your routine should be getting ready for work, which includes changing out of your pyjamas! Dress as if you were going to the office; it’s a great way of getting into ‘work mode’ and remaining focused. This is even more important if you’re having video calls… turning up in your dressing gown doesn’t give across a very professional message! 

And remember to figure out when in your routine you'll be fitting in your 20% Off The Job Training!

#3 Over-communicate!

Communication is imperative to successful working and relationships when you’re not in the same physical space as your line manager or team. A few useful tips:

  1. Increase the amount you check in with your line manager and teams. We’d recommend checking in with your manager at least once a day - perhaps book it in as a recurring meeting so it’s part of your routine, ideally via video as it’s important to remain visually connected

  2. Proactively update - visibility is lost when you’re not working together physically, so make sure to frequently update your team and manager and don’t wait to be asked for an update on what you’re doing

  3. Clarify tasks and objectives - it’s easy to misunderstand direction you’re given (or are giving!) when communicated over email or Slack etc. If you’re at all unclear on what’s being asked of you, ask for clarification. It’s much better to ask and deliver than assume and underdeliver

  4. Trust and reliability are integral to successful remote working - let others know when you’ll get something done and stick to your word. If you can’t deliver on time, communicate early and proactively.

  5. Be open and honest about how you’re feeling and your productivity levels. If you’re struggling, ask for help or tips. This is new for lots of people and you shouldn’t feel afraid to ask. There will be people around you who can help - whether that’s your line manager, a colleague, your Coach or the WhiteHat Community. 

#4 Remember video call etiquette

Almost everyone will be using video calls to stay in touch with co-workers and clients, as well as for all your WhiteHat remote delivery sessions. A few important etiquette points to remember:

  1. Understand the technology - if you’re unsure how it works, ask someone to run a trial with you beforehand

  2. Join on time! Respect your colleague’s time and be ready and prepared for the minute the call starts 

  3. Unless you’ve been told otherwise, keep your video on - it’s important to show you’re present

  4. Consider the background of your call and the message it sends - TV on or kids running around shouting might not scream “professional!”. Try to ensure you’re in a quiet room with an appropriate background. If in doubt, many video conferencing apps like Zoom have digital 

  5. Consider your body language - sit up straight, make eye contact with the person speaking - all the things you’d do in an IRL meeting. If you’re on mute but someone speaking is asking if people understand, nod or do thumbs up, or use the emoticons on apps like Zoom 

  6. Remain focused on the session you’re in - don’t do other things at the same time (email, WhatsApp, side conversations etc) as it’s distracting and disrespectful to the person speaking. Act as you would in an IRL meeting

  7. Mute your microphone unless you’re speaking to avoid unnecessary background noise for other participants

#5 Set yourself daily goals & remember the importance of accountability

Every morning, spend a few minutes writing down what you want to achieve in the day - be ambitious but realistic and keep referring back to that list throughout the day to ensure you’re on track. No doubt priorities will change and you’ll need to be responsive to that, but do so intentionally and keep re-prioritising. If you need a hand, ask a coworker to help. At the end of the day, reflect on how much of it you achieved and consider what you could do to improve productivity the next day. Have a growth mindset. 

It can be undoubtedly hard to remain focused and disciplined when working alone. If you’re struggling to hold yourself to account, consider asking a coworker to support you by acting as your ‘accountability partner’ to check in on whether you’re managing to do all the things you hoped. 

You could consider having a morning check in where you outline your priorities for the day, and an end of day check in where you reflect on how much progress you made. 

#6 Look after yourself! 

Your physical and mental health are as important now than ever. 

Hopefully you’re still able to go outside for a walk or run (fresh air is SO important for maintaining a clear mind and productive work), but even if you’re self-isolated or quarantined, you can stay active within your home. 

There are some amazing apps like Fiit, OnePeloton, Down Dog & Les Mills which do at home workouts, yoga classes etc - many of which are offering extended free trials at the moment. And YouTube is a great source of other free workouts, like Yoga With Adrienne (her 30 days of yoga is great!), and the Body Coach HIIT workouts. 

If you are able to get out of the house but are struggling with a busy schedule, consider using a walk as a time to catch up with your Coach or team members on the phone. 

Or join the Monday morning WhiteHat guided Yoga session with your fellow Community members. Sign up via the Events section.

It’s equally important to maintain a positive mental state, so consider the things that help you stay calm and relaxed. There are lots of apps that can help with this, from Headspace (they’ve just launched lots more free guided meditations which are great!) to Spill (the digital therapy app that WhiteHat apprentices get FREE access to, more here).

And consider the role that food plays in your health and energy levels. Try to eat food that will give you a constant energy supply and keep your brain active. Drink lots of water (Top tip: ensure you have enough water next to you to see you through a video call to avoid having to get up and leave half way through!).

#7 Stay connected to your Community

Whether that’s other WhiteHat apprentices, your colleagues at work, your friends and family or other professional networks, it’s important to stay connected with people even if you’re not able to see them IRL. 

The WhiteHat Community is made up of over 1,500 members, who will be going through similar experiences to you right now - make sure to utilise the Community Hub to remain connected and check in with people you think might be struggling. 

There is lots of brilliant free technology you can use to connect, from Zoom and Google Hangouts for video catch ups, to Houseparty for social meetups (watch this space for a WhiteHat event using Houseparty and their awesome Heads Up game integration!), FaceTime and WhatsApp video call for 121 catch ups and so much more! 

#8 Consider this an opportunity for growth

You’ll be learning a ton of new things just by going through this experience - consider this an opportunity for growth and not a barrier. Embrace online working and learning. 

Lean in to your resilience and initiative - if you have a technical issue on a call, try to figure out how to fix it or ask for help rather than getting frustrated. If a meeting doesn’t go well, consider how you can make it better next time and proactively suggest better ways of doing things. 

You’ll have more free time if you're not commuting - consider how you can use that time productively. Are there new skills you want to learn? Sign up for an online course. LinkedIn Learning have just opened up lots of their courses around remote working for free. Have you always wanted to learn a foreign language but not had the time? Try something like Duolingo. And be sure to check out the amazing opportunities availabe for Community members by heading over to the Events section regularly. 

And last but not least, be kind to yourself and others


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