With the wide-spread of coronavirus forcing the whole world into self-isolation, all the technology firms are looking to find extended periods of remote work. A year ago, it was the same month and the same days when we heard about the deadly disease. I remembered this and wondered how a pandemic would change our lives, how we socialize, and how we work. Work from home is no longer a new normal.

I belong to Pakistan— a villager by birth, live in a small town, and have been working from home for the last couple of years. There was no concept of remote work here before and people had no ideas about the freelancing websites. When people asked me, what do you do? I told them, I work from home. Every time, their response was amazing and they asked me with a surprise— “wow man! Is that possible? Now everybody knows that it’s possible. Working from home is often called freelancing. It is considered the most productive way to work. You must avoid at-home distractions, the etiquette of working from home is very important.

1. Properly structure your work hours

When you work from the office, you get a proper schedule or shift to work. That can not be the case while you are working from home. But you should remember that time management is the key to a successful career. You can extend your work hours or start earlier if needed. You are not bound to a 9 to 5 role, right? Remote work is highly flexible but it comes with some other responsibilities. You got my point if you are a father or a mother with kids. However, it’s still important to decide when to work and when to call it a day-off.

Therefore, plan the work hours when you know you can focus and be productive. If you are managing a team of coworkers, plan the meetings accordingly.  Don’t schedule the meetings for 8:30 am and don’t send your coworkers direct messages at night or on weekends (unless it’s an emergency). 

2. Make sure your visibility at work

Visibility means being responsive to the messages as quickly as possible. We use communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams and if someone mentions you or asks a question, the faster you get back, the more visible you can seem. Your visibility also depends on the speed of your internet connection and you must set a status like in a meeting, commuting, sick, do-not-disturb, and break. If you are showing green in Slack and not responding to the questions, it won’t leave a good impression. It’s a bad practice and you can be called out for a quick hangout with the boss. 

So you must be visible and clearly communicate with the team. If you want to take a lunch break, that’s okay but you must set a “brb-food” or similar status on Slack. My colleagues mostly use this status when they go on a lunch break. You should not constantly be available at all hours, that’s not what I meant. You should be open to interruptions and respond quickly so your team can see you are hard at work.

3. No social media

3.96 billion people use social media today, which accounts for roughly half (51%) of the global population. According to the statistics, employees spend an average of 145 minutes a day at work, on social media. The daily time spent with social media in the U.S. was just two hours and three minutes. So that’s around 10 hours a week and over 40 hours a month. It means that people spend one week among four weeks of a month on social media. 

Since a huge number of people have started working from home, it has become even more challenging to avoid people spending too much time on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram. In order to focus on your projects and work, you must track the usage of social media. Additionally, keep a time log for a month to get the report of social-media usage and try to overcome it. Also, it is suggested to schedule social media-free work hours for yourself.

4. Be a pro of these communication tools

There are many important online tools to get virtual team members on the same page. Whether you are a freelance content writer, a virtual assistant, a payroll officer, a remote graphics designer, or a project manager of your team, you must provide your team members the resources necessary to handle their tasks effectively. However, if you are a trainee, a developer, a content marketer, or whatever your profession is, get your hands on the following communication tools.

  • G-Suite/Office365
  • Slack/MS Teams
  • Basecamp
  • Trello
  • Google Drive
  • Skype
  • Zoom
  • Wrike
  • Zoho Projects

5. Learn about the time zones

In a remote work environment, your team members belong to different time zones. It is really important to know about time zones and how to convert them. Though most of the companies have set their meetings according to a standard time zone, make sure to do the conversion drill with a tool like Time and Date. This application can simultaneously compare the time zones across multiple locations. 

6. It’s good to be well-dressed

Rolling out of bed and starting your work is not productive at all. You should always take a bath, get ready, wear the best attire before beginning the job. It will help you look good and active in the video calls with your team. It also shows that while working remotely, you are still maintaining professionalism. It is recommended to wear a dress shirt or a polo shirt, nice-looking jeans, a jersey and a comfortable sweater depending upon the weather. 

Furthermore, do not ever neglect your health, personal hygiene, and your looks. Your hair should always be well-groomed for an urgent meeting.  

Bottom line: dress well enough to look professional, yet comfortable.