Real talk: How to make working from home work

Recently, teams around the world began to shift to work from home at a scale that’s never been seen before. Companies that have never had formal work from home cultures are in the midst of defining how their teams communicate, collaborate, and coordinate remotely—while everyone is already remote. Needless to say, the working world is embracing a new and evolving definition of “normal.”

Those of us who are able to work remotely are among the fortunate, but no one is immune to the stress, anxiety, and isolation humans everywhere are experiencing. The fact is, we aren’t just working from home—we’re working at home during an unprecedented challenge.

At the same time, you may also be adapting to new working relationships and communication styles. And if we’re being honest, it can sometimes be hard to focus on work in the midst of new health updates and shifting global priorities. That’s ok! No one on your team is unaffected by world events, and it’s quite likely that no one is operating at 100%. Remember that it’s already a huge accomplishment to support yourself, and celebrate little victories. We’re all in this together.

3 ways to make working from home work

To keep yourself and your team moving forward, it’s important to have a plan for staying grounded and connected at work, so you can feel like you’re making a meaningful contribution to your team. Doing so comes down to three things: connecting with your team, establishing priorities, and setting boundaries for yourself and your work.

Connecting with your remote team

Remote work can feel isolating, even without any additional circumstances. When you add shelter in place orders and social distancing guidelines, it can be hard to feel connected to your team and your coworkers. That’s why it’s more important than ever to stay honest and keep the lines of communication open.

Establishing how you’re going to communicate with your team takes the guesswork out of it, and helps you connect more seamlessly. In fact, according to the Anatomy of Work Index, if employees are connected and clear on their work, motivation doubles.

If you haven’t already, take the time to establish communication conventions with your team, so everyone is on the same page. Make sure your team is aligned on what gets communicated over a messaging system like Slack, what gets sent in an email, and what lives in Asana. If you have frequent virtual meetings, align on conventions for muting your mic and having your camera on.

Having these conversations with your team also opens up the conversation about when you shouldn’t be communicating. We’re more accessible than ever, but when you’re working from home, it’s critical to separate your home life from your work life. Make use of features like Do Not Disturb to help your team know you’re not receiving notifications. Or use the “away” feature in Asana to let your team know how long you’ll be offline.

Establishing priorities

Your company’s priorities are likely shifting, and may continue to do so. New work might be springing up, or anticipated projects might be sidelined. With all of these moving pieces, take time to clarify what your monthly and weekly priorities are. Document priorities and status in a shared document or workplace like Asana. That way, you and any stakeholders are aligned, and you can better decide what to action on and what to prioritize.

It’s equally important to align on what to do if a task isn’t moving forward like it should. In your next 1:1 meeting with your manager or standup with your team, clarify how you should handle incomplete tasks, blockers, or new initiatives. What is and isn’t acceptable to leave incomplete? How are you sharing high-priority projects with stakeholders and making sure everyone has visibility into your work? Keep in mind that some conventions may change or need to be updated in order to jive with your new remote workflow.

Because we have less separation between work and home life, clarifying what’s high priority can help you get in the right headspace and make the most out of your workday. Knowing that what you’re working on matters gives you the purpose you need to get through the day, and can help you feel in control of your work.

Setting boundaries for yourself and your work

The best thing you can do right now is have a frank conversation with yourself about what you can focus on and how to best do that. We’re all running a marathon, and we’ll only get through it in one piece if we take care of ourselves.

Here’s are a few ways members of Team Asana are taking care of themselves:

  • Scheduled meditation sessions
  • Social media and news breaks
  • Signing off at the end of the day
  • Sharing daily priorities at the beginning of the day
  • Zoom calls with Team Asana backgrounds
  • Dedicated lunchtime breaks with roommates, kids, and family
  • Employee Resource Group remote work happy hours

Everyone’s boundaries look different. The tips we’ve outlined aren’t an exhaustive list; they’re just a set of guidelines that have helped us here at Asana. But if you can, we highly recommend taking the time to establish what makes you feel replenished and supported, and dedicating time to do that.

Adjusting (and re-adjusting) to working remotely

None of us know what the future holds, or how long we’ll be working remotely. So we don’t just need to figure out how to adjust to remote work once—chances are, we’ll need to adjust and re-adjust as the situation develops. Practicing healthy remote work habits, policies, and boundaries will help you feel in control of your work and let you focus on the work that matters.

In the meantime, stay healthy, check in with your coworkers and loved ones, and take care of yourself.

For more remote tips, watch our webinar, Remote work: how to stay connected and organized.

Real talk: How to make working from home work