February 17, 2021

Bridging the Distance

A Monthly Blog Series on Remote Team-Building
by Sr. Director of Operations, Elise Keitz

Working Well from Home

If the pandemic has shown us anything positive, it’s about the benefits of working from home. Studies suggest remote workers enjoy less turnover, use fewer vacation days than their in-office peers, and boast increased productivity. That said, it also can be tough for some people to acclimate, for myriad reasons: Some of us crave the consistency of the office, the routine, the coworkers, and the banter. Add in a pandemic, and we may find we’re feeling kind of meh spending our work hours and living hours all in the same place.

So, how can you help your teams thrive while working remotely? I encourage you to focus on the four Ss—space, schedule, socialization, and spontaneity—to keep the mojo (and collaboration) going.

Space: Ergonomics become even more important when working remotely. Imagine opening a meeting by asking about each other’s postures or screen levels: It sounds crazy, but our home spaces don’t always make the best work spaces. Is your computer screen at eye level? Is your desk or kitchen table the correct height? Is your seat providing proper lumbar support? Enhancing your space to work well requires investment and inspiration: Support your body and decorate your area in ways that bring forth your best.

Schedule: Working from home often blurs the lines between employment and enjoyment, so if it feels like the walls are closing in, get out. For example, physical activity doesn’t have to be extensive or expensive: Before work, take a walk around the block, a park, or (if you’re lucky) a nearby beach. Get connected with the weather and the scenery. Additionally, you can take mental health moments via running errands, getting coffee from a local drive through, or touching base with your family, friends, or roommate. Make sure to schedule physical and emotional breaks, in and around work tasks, to feel more balanced.

Socialization: If you were used to sharing a lot of your life with office coworkers, family, and friends, you might be feeling a little lonely by now. Until we can get reconnected via offices, parties, events and travel, the next best thing is to reach out virtually. There are many ways to connect, and we are dependent upon work for socialization now more than ever. As you can, ask about others and share your own updates when connecting on calls or Zoom; view these opportunities as another way to spend time with people and stay connected to benefit your overall wellness.

Spontaneity: The last year has felt a little like the movie Groundhog Day as we’ve substituted “real” interactions for virtual, and outside activities for sofa-bound habits. But you can look for opportunities to vary your days and your interactions.

  • Switch up your meeting agenda to start with the solution and work your way backwards
  • Open a staff call with a brain teaser or Keyword Bingo (which will show how well you know your coworkers’ favorite sayings!)
  • Issue a “Can You Top This?” challenge
  • Share a Doordash lunch together on a random Thursday with a table topic unrelated to work

The point? Just try to do something a little differently than you did yesterday.

Thriving is far different than surviving: To thrive, we need to help each other form positive habits around working from home. Ask your team members about changes they’ve made to their space and schedule: What’s worked, and what hasn’t? We can still help each other find new ways to be social, spontaneous and successful—if only we’re willing to bridge the distance.