Tips and tricks for working remotely

Photo credit: Andrew Neel.

As the world navigates challenges presented by the spread of COVID-19, many faculty and staff members will begin working remotely on Mar. 16 to help prevent the spread of the virus. Whether you’re new to remote work or a work-from-home veteran, here’s how you can stay productive, keep connected with your team and avoid going stir-crazy.

Stick to a routine

It’s easy for work hours to blur together when you’re at home. But if you don’t set boundaries, you could end up working 24 hours a day.

Establish a time to start and end your work every day. Block time on your calendar for a scheduled lunch break, during which time you will be unavailable for calls and email. And make a point to get dressed in the morning – even if it’s something comfortable. Routine and structure signal to your brain that it’s either time to work, or time to relax.

Set up your space

Create a dedicated working space that separates your work from your personal life. It should be comfortable, but not a place you go specifically to relax – so avoid your bed or the couch. Instead, make your space a corner of the living room, the kitchen table or a seat at the counter. If you will be participating in video conferencing, pick a spot with good light and access to a power outlet.

Consider the ergonomics of your space to maintain healthy posture as you work. Your computer monitor should be about an arm’s length away from your eyes. When typing, your hands should be at or below elbow-level, with your wrists straight. Your knees should be about level with your hips when sitting, and your feet should rest flat on the floor.

Make deadlines

Stay focused on your work priorities by checking in regularly with your supervisor and team. Microsoft Teams is a powerful tool available to all UCCS faculty, staff and students. It offers instant messaging, video conferencing, audio calls and file sharing to help you stay in touch. Planner can help you to create task lists, and SharePoint can allow your team to work together towards deadlines.

Have an accountability buddy

Just like a workout buddy, an accountability can help you stay on track. Agree to check in on each other’s’ progress and priorities. Then, establish a time to check in with your accountability buddy, whether it’s at the beginning and end of the workday or somewhere in the middle.

Ask your accountability buddy about progress on their prioritized tasks and update them on your own progress. Then, commit to a new set of goals to accomplish before your next check-in.

Take scheduled breaks

Whether it’s five minutes at the top of the hour or 15 minutes every three hours, breaks are necessary – and good for you! Taking a break can help you to be more productive over the long-term and can even boost creativity. Breaks can also help your brain to reset, reducing “decision fatigue” and helping you to make the right choices.

Before a break, alert your team that you will be away from your desk, and let them know when you return. During a break, step away from your computer to rest your eyes and change your posture. On that note…

Move your body

Walk the dog, stretch, dance or do a few yoga poses. Moving your body gives your brain time to decompress and can help reduce the negative health effects caused by too much sitting. Make a point to say hello to your neighbors and spend time outside, too. Both can help you to keep your spirits up and stay connected to your community.

Have more questions about working remotely? Visit the Office of Information Technology’s remote working resource page.