Our Top 10 Tips for Remote Work

Acuity has always worked remotely. It’s deep in our culture and brings us great happiness. We wanted to share some of the tips, strategies, and norms of our joyful and distributed workplace.

1. Find your happy place.

Find a comfortable, quiet place to work. Keep your space tidy, let in as much sunlight and fresh air as you can, and decorate with objects that bring you joy. It’s hard to focus if you’re on the couch, in front of the TV, with a pile of dirty dishes in the corner of your eye.

2. Nail virtual meetings.

When video conferencing, keep the camera on, but turn the microphone off unless you’re speaking. Be aware there’s a slight delay, which makes it easy to accidentally speak over one another. And consider repositioning your laptop so the camera catches a head-and-shoulders shot of you.

3. Create clear boundaries.

Separate your work day from the rest of your life. Get up, shower, dress, and, sigh, put on pants. Then use a ritual to start your workday — walk around the block, do a bit of yoga, make coffee and turn on the radio, whatever works for you. Take a real lunch break. When your work day is over, close your laptop and put it down. Don’t open it again until morning. 

4. And then create more boundaries.

Friends and family can have trouble with the fact that you aren’t available to talk or help out at home when you’re working. Set an expectation that work time is for work. Set it early, often, and clearly (but with a ton of love). You’ll be tempted by household chores (as strange as it might sound now.) Keep a notepad handy to jot down tasks that pop into your head. Address them during your break or when you transition between tasks.

5. Build community.

If you’re leading a virtual meeting, start with a few minutes of personal chitchat. Because remote workers don’t talk with one another outside conference rooms, in the hall, or at the water cooler, you need to deliberately foster personal connections.

6. Avoid the digital swamp.

If your chat or email conversation goes back and forth more than five times, strongly consider switching to a quick video call; you’ll save time and be more confident in the information you get.

7. Manage your space.

It’s good to have a space where children, other family members, and animals can’t intrude on your thoughts or your big presentation to your boss. But your situation is also highly personal and unique, and the reality is that life is never perfect. You’d be surprised at how much a kid in the background brightens up a meeting! If you aren’t the only person working from home, be sure to communicate upcoming meetings, especially those where you’ll be speaking. And it pays to figure out beforehand what you’re going to do when two people have meetings at the same time.

8. Stay fresh.

Your remote day will have fewer transitions than you’re used to — You never have to move for a meeting, and the bathroom and the snacks are likely only feet away. To stay mentally fresh, add artificial transitions to your day. Sitting in a different room, in a different corner, or out on the porch, can keep you from feeling stale. Or get up, do a quick manual task, and come back. You could walk to the mailbox, take out the trash, or pull a single weed from a flowerbed. 

9. Live your life.

The isolation of remote work can trigger surprising and intense emotions, so do things that provide touchstones beyond home and work. Be deliberate about keeping up with friends and family (through phone calls, texts, video chats, or emails), even if it means adding them to your calendar. And get a dose of nature whenever you can: Actually smell those flowers out front, stop to savor the feel of the warm sun on your face, or sit and listen to a bird sing.

10. Be flexible and kind to yourself.

Going remote is a big adjustment, and things won’t go right 100 percent of the time. That’s OK. Over-communicate with others to avoid confusion. And talk about remote work experiences with your colleagues — You’ll build trust and connectedness and find strategies that work. (It’s how we got this list.

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