Setting your regular work hours, your boundaries, and your preferred ways of communications to reach you, are all part of helping you to be super productive at work when you are working remotely, says Indira Ramachandra, chief human resources officer, AscentHR.
With the remote working gaining traction and increased prominence, companies are gradually starting to embrace a diverse workforce that is spread across geographies to build inclusive workplace, foster innovation, and gain competitive advantage.
It has become inevitable for employees to get accustomed to working with a diverse workforce -- be it internationally or within the country in different locations.
However, it may not be a cakewalk for the employees to work away from office with a diverse set of colleagues who come from different backgrounds, who are based out of different locations, and whose availability depends on the different time zones they live in.
Even the communication and engagement work tools -- that organisations make it available for their employees to facilitate interactions and streamline team’s activities -- can also impact the effectiveness and quality of the remote working.
Given all these differences, cultural and technological barriers, staying connected and collaborating with their diverse colleagues is bound to get complex and challenging.
This in turn may directly impact the employees's productivity and communication effectiveness, if these challenges and barriers are not managed and overcome effectively.
Here are some basic tips, etiquette, and hacks for employees to navigate some of these challenges and overcome these barriers.
1. Enhance your cultural intelligence
Develop your ability to express and exhibit appropriate verbal and non-verbal actions when you are interacting with a culturally diverse colleague.
This ability is technically referred to as cross-cultural competency.
Having a fair knowledge of different cultures may go a long way in building and maintaining a positive work relationship.
This could mean being aware of idioms, colloquial phrases, sayings, or sometimes, acceptable slang as well.
2. Set regular working hours
Setting regular working hours, acceptable boundaries (boundaries with exceptions and alternatives), and sharing these details with your geographically dispersed team can go a long way in enabling a great team work.
One way to implement this work strategy is by blocking your calendar so that your counterpart is aware of your time zone and your designated working hours.
This will help your global colleagues to be mindful and schedule a meeting or call/ message at your preferred times.
It is equally more important to reciprocate the same courtesy to your global counterparts.
A simple habit of enabling two digital clocks side-by-side or installing a world clock widget that shows time in different time zones can help you interact with the other person effectively.
One key suggestion is to be mindful to practise respect and empathy consciously.
3. Develop a team calendar
Having a dedicated team calendar can be helpful for the entire team as it contains important information such as list of holidays in different work locations or even team members' availability or leave details.
This will help in planning, scheduling meetings, project tasks, project timelines and managing deadlines and resources.
4. Decide on the best mode of communication
Communication is a key ingredient in any work relationship and its role becomes crucial when you are working remotely.
Deciding on the right mode of communication becomes even more important when collaborating with your colleagues.
For instance, written modes of communication have the potential to result in misunderstandings.
Upon noticing the signs of misunderstanding or if the matter is urgent, picking up your phone and calling the other person right away may be the best mode of communication resolve issues rather than shooting an e-mail and waiting for a reply.
5. Seek regular feedback
Setting your regular work hours, your boundaries, and your preferred ways of communications to reach you, are all part of helping you to be super productive at work when you are working remotely.
However, it is always better to seek feedback on these aspects from your colleagues to understand how this set up is working out.
Accordingly, you may need to make few adjustments based on the feedback and inputs received.
6. Get some tech accessories
Having the right set of accessories and wearables can help you enhance your productivity to some extent.
It could be a good wireless headphone, a wireless mouse, a WiFi device, or an additional monitor, for instance, depending on the nature of your work.
Having these accessories will help you do multitasking (say, taking notes while on a call), and make your work tasks easier.
For instance, your productivity while working on a laptop may increase when you use a mouse in general. This may be true, if you are working on a task that involves designing rather than typing.
7. Switch on the video mode, sometimes
Attending a meeting with your video on intentionally, may help you feel a sense of belongingness.
Although it may seem uncomfortable at times, the benefits of making your face visible to others can help others to see your non-verbal facial expressions that otherwise goes unnoticed in a teleconference.
All these aspects may help you build relationships and foster trust to some extent.
8. Use productivity tools and techniques
A simple timer can help you stay focused on your daily tasks.
Get yourself organised by leveraging various tools and techniques, including using cloud storage apps to store documents, maintaining To-Do lists, activities tracker, Pomodoro technique (setting a timer for each task to focus), 2-Minute Rule (if a task takes less than 2 minutes, finish it off immediately), to name a few.
These little aspects can help you stay focussed while working remotely.
9. Manage distractions
While working remotely, distractions are bound to occur. And eliminating these distractions completely may not be possible.
So, developing strategies to manage and overcome distractions is plausible.
Distractions could be phone notifications, people around you, or your own urge to engage in other tasks.
These distractions can lead to procrastination and may impact one’s productivity.
Although there are many strategies to avoid distractions, one strategy that stand out from the rest of the crowd is Nir Eyal's 10-Minute Rule.
Nir says: 'If I find myself wanting to check my phone as a pacification device, I tell myself it's fine to give in, but not right now; I have to wait just ten minutes.'
10. Don't ignore the wellness part
A little exercise before or after work, staying hydrated, taking care of eyesight, taking breaks at regular intervals, taking care of wrists to avoid RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury), and other practices are all part of being productive at work.
Ignoring health and wellness best practices can affect productivity levels and ultimately one’s health in the long run.
Following these basic guidelines my help you enhance your performance levels, while fostering positive synergies and collaborations in the organisation.