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5 Tips for Ending Your Remote Work Day

When that proverbial 5 o’clock whistle blows at the office, you straighten your desk, log off of your computer, grab your work bag and head out the door. But what happens when you reach the end of your remote work day? Do you keep working?

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The answer is, “No!” Don’t keep working. “Go home.” Treat your home office the same as you would treat an office that you commute to each day.

Ending your day can be hard on a regular day; when you work remotely, it can be even trickier to shut down and step away for the evening. Working from a home office can increase productivity but it also can keep you unwittingly tied to your desk and stuck in your chair long after quitting time. Don’t fall into the trap of working more because your office is so conveniently located.

There’s plenty of time during your remote work day to connect with colleagues or continue figuring out how to effectively manage a remote team. Trust me; it will be waiting for you when you log back in the next morning.

Tips for Ending Your Remote Work Day

Be mindful of your work hours. Respect them, but also respect your personal time. I speak from experience and offer these five tips to end your remote work day mindfully and get on with your evening.

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Set Your Device’s Night Light.

Your device’s night-light mode dims your computer’s screen to make it easier to look at your screen in the dark. Have it turn on at the end of your work day to signal it’s time to wrap up. You can keep working, if you want, but you’ll at least be aware that the official quitting time has passed.

End Your Day with a To-Do List.

You don’t have to start each new morning with a clean slate. It’s okay for some work to carry over to the next day. But, you do want to feel like you’ve accomplished something and start the new work day fresh and organized. Making a to-do list for the next day can help you walk away from your home office feeling confident that you can pick up where you left off the next morning.

Make Sure Your Work Space is Ready to Go.

Be sure everything is plugged in for the next morning. It’s easy to just want to be done and close the laptop to make dinner, walk the dog or check in on the kids. But don’t leave anything extra to be done before the next remote work day starts. Make sure you plug-in your headset to charge, take that dirty coffee cup to the sink and clean up your desk for a fresh start to the new day.

Don’t Send After-Hours Emails.

It’s important to set expectations with colleagues and clients regarding your working hours. If you are working late, set that email message to auto send in the morning. It’s important to establish reasonable working hours whenever possible and give yourself time to regroup before the next remote work day.

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Close Your Tabs and Shut Down for the Weekend.

End-of-day Friday — not Saturday afternoon — signals the weekend. To ensure that your remote work day doesn’t blend into your Saturday and Sunday downtime, make sure to turn off your device on Friday and stay away from it until Monday. You can enjoy an extra minute with your coffee while things boot up at the start of the new work week.

Working at home requires some adjustment and a fresh mindset. Finding balance between your personal and work-from-home lives can be tough. I know this firsthand after spending the past five years working remotely. That’s why I’ve shared so many tips in this remote-working series. If you missed the earlier blogs in the series, here are links to the other four posts.

Remote Work Policies: The Who, What & Why [2020]

Work This is where an airtight remote work policy comes into play. A remote work policy and formal guidance play a critical role in establishing company norms, eliminating guesswork and communicating expectations to both tenured and new employees. Without a set remote work policy, employees are left wondering to what extent the company, or their direct manager, expects remote work to resemble in-office life.

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Not only can this lead to miscommunication between employees and management, it inevitably leads to some employees’ perception that they are treated differently than their peers as managers fill the remote work policy void with their own directives.

In this blog post, you’re going to learn:

  • Why a remote work policy is important
  • Everything you should include in your remote work policy
  • How to create one for your company in less than 10 minutes

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COVID-19 and the Rise of Remote Work

The COVID-19 coronavirus is forcing companies who have resisted the future of work to adapt to a remote work environment with little time to prepare. With countries around the world closing nonessential businesses, those without a remote work policy are left exposed to security risks and workflow inefficiencies.

What Is a Remote Work Policy?

A remote work policy is a set of guidelines and boundaries that outlines how and when employees can work from home or any other remote location. These remote working policies communicate the best practices to follow, which help the company maintain order and set clear expectations.

Why Is a Remote Work Policy Important?

For starters, research shows that a work-from-home policy can reduce your employee turnover by 50%! According to Gallup, the average cost of replacing an employee ranges from one-half to two times their annual salary. In other words, having a remote work policy is simply good business.

How to Make a Remote Work Policy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 has created a lot of fear and confusion for employees and businesses around the world. With a remote work policy in place, you can help your workforce adapt to a new way of working while setting clear guidelines on how to respond to others and what steps to follow to keep data safe.

Determine working hours for employees

A remote work policy needs to define availability expectations and working hours. Without it, you’ll have employees working odd hours and managers unable to get in contact with team members at crucial times.

Make sure your policy answers the following questions:

    • How many hours do remote employees need to work each day or week?
    • Between what hours are employees expected to be online?
    • Do employees need to adhere to specific time zones based on geographic priorities?
    • Is there a strict or flexible work schedule?
    • How and where should employees notify colleagues if they are unable to meet typical availability requirements?

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Setting Your Remote Workers Up With the Right Tools

While it can feel challenging to switch to a remote model overnight, there are plenty of remote-team tools that will help you simplify the process and make it easier to manage your team.

Video conferencing

While a quick chat on Microsoft Teams or Slack is suitable for some communication needs, video calls are the next best thing when you can’t all be in the same room. Virtual meetings, client calls and remote presentations are a big part of working online and communicating with teams and customers.

Invest in a reliable and secure video conferencing tool like Lifesize to maintain face-to-face contact and make telecommuting as effective as possible.

Workplace communication

The biggest challenge for remote teams is communication. Phone calls often aren’t ideal for teams separated by multiple time zones, and email threads can quickly end up a mess without clear ownership or actions.

Dedicated instant messaging tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams, like the integrated chat within your video conferencing software, are a great way to keep teams connected while keeping data safe and secure. Like most enterprise-grade tools, these apps are designed for ongoing conversations among multiple people and help keep inbox overwhelm to a minimum.

File sharing

A way to safely share and find information is an important remote collaboration tool. Popular tools like Microsoft OneDrive, SharePoint, Box or Google Drive are widely used cloud storage platforms built specifically for keeping your files in a secure and centralized location. Files are also synced across devices so you can access them from anywhere.

Project management

It’s no easy task staying on top of your own to-do list as well as your teams’ lists of projects. When you switch to a remote work arrangement, you may need to support your decision with an agile management tool designed to help you and your team track who is doing what and the status of ongoing projects. This not only helps you keep tasks on track, it provides stakeholders a single destination for monitoring the progress of various initiatives.