Working Remotely: Lessons, Tips, & How To’s Learned from 2 Decades of Experience

on Blog March 27th, 2020

Working remotely on teams is not a new phenomenon. However, because of the coronavirus, we are seeing a spike in the search for ‘working remotely’ because entrepreneurs and business owners are being forced to figure out how to do this for perhaps the very first time in their careers.

(Cover image provided by Getty Images)

Have a look below at the spike of interest around working remote and related topics on Google search.

how can i work well remotely

COVID-19 Catalyst for Remote Work

Ok, so there is this thing happening to us called COVID-19. Perhaps you’ve heard of it by now…?

It is an ‘unprecedented’ chain of events impacting the world economy, but so was almost every other major world-shifting event that preceded this one.

Take a look at the US Stock Market Trend since it began. The Wall Street Crash in the 20s, the recession in the 80s, the real estate market in 2007. We always bounce back and people make money in recessions.

remote work

The thing that makes THIS unprecedented event different is that it has to do with our society’s health and the government is shutting down certain businesses intentionally, rather than as a result of uncontrollable factors.

It seems like it’s more global than other events, but remember we are more connected to information than we have ever been as a global society.

Having access to information and technology that has always been touted as being able to keep us connected also means we can help each other and our employees with their work from home initiatives. Remote working has never been more viable than it is today, and we are able to maximize our productivity in a meaningful way.

Entrepreneurs Helping Entrepreneurs

If you or your team have never worked remotely before, now is a time to figure out how. Here are some industries we are seeing with opportunities to work remotely.

  • Legal
  • Psychologists & Therapists
  • Physical Fitness
  • eCommerce
  • Marketing 
  • Consulting & Coaching
  • Churches
  • Architecture
  • Engineers
  • Auto Sales – yup! I bought a car in 2015
  • Government
  • Finance
  • Accounting & Bookkeeping
  • Business Membership Organizations (like Chamber of Commerce)

For most of us who are pushing through these challenges without fear, there is a new world waiting at the other end. Adapt or die. Make way for the remote office of the future!

What Does it Mean to Work Remotely

  1. Working remotely is NOT the same as working in an office – there are MORE distractions so you have to be MORE disciplined. Remote work requires employees to work smarter, not harder.
  2. Communication via text, email or instant messenger can lose its emotion and feeling, so make sure your tone is thoughtful. Remote workers do not have the advantage of seeing your facial expressions like they would in the office.
  3. The world goes on whether you do your job or not. And the right people know this innately.
  4. The old saying “work while no one is watching” should run through your head constantly.
  5. The freedom of working remotely comes with the responsibility of continuing to be productive and the consequences of not working – be responsible and get your work done first when remote.

How Can I Work Well Remotely?

Build a Daily Routine

We all live on routine, so if you need to start working remotely, this should be no different. However, you may need to write down your routine in a list and follow it for a few days until it becomes second nature. Your productivity will benefit tremendously as a result! Remote work may even be the best thing ever to happen to your productivity, as employees are fully in charge of managing their work from home initiatives.

Here is an example of my own routine, all rights reserved ;)!

  • Get Up at 6:00am
  • Take a shower and get mentally ready for the day
  • Make sure to make a daily list of work items that NEED to get done today – business and personal
  • Stretch, exercise, watch the morning news or read – this is your personal time
  • Have breakfast… this one is usually done remote anyway!
  • Review your daily list and skim to see if there are any emergencies
  • Get on Daily Call with Team – this should be scheduled in your online calendar
  • Work down your list of To-Dos – calls should be in your calendar, but some people also work better if they block off time for certain tasks. You may want to read The Corporate Athlete to learn which times of the day you do certain types of work best
  • Break for lunch – connect with family and friends
  • Read emails
  • Remote working begins!

Create a Workspace

Designate workspaces at home so when you are in those spaces everyone in the household knows you are working. Ideally, this is an office, but it can also be a spare room or a desk in a corner. When you are in your workspace, you are working from home, officially remote.

Operate a Zero-Based Inbox

How many of you have 1,000s of emails sitting in your email thinking that you have a “system” for ƒlead? And perhaps your “system” looks like “oh, I’ll read the emails, then mark them as Unread if I need to come back to them”.

That’s what I used to do, remote or in the office.

I try to clear my inbox of emails every day now. Although this might sound impossible because you get so many emails, it is easier than you might think. Most of the people I work with and the employees at the Fannit office operate the same way.

Ever since I moved to this philosophy and method, it’s kept me more focused and I don’t ever get that “oh man, my inbox is so full I don’t even want to look at it” feeling.

Here are some simple guidelines for you to follow.

  • Archive the email if it doesn’t require action from you
  • Take action now if it can be done in under 2 minutes
  • Review all emails at the end of the day and archive them if – you can always search for it later

Host a Daily Call With Your Team

Having a Zoom call with the team to check in can help get everyone on the same page to start the workday. At Fannit, our morning “stand up calls” are short (15 minutes). Below are some things our employees cover, whether remote or from the office.

  • Work blockers – these are people letting others know they are being blocked from being able to do their work and need help removing the blocker
  • Something good – these are items that people share that celebrate our successes as a team.
  • Something I learned – perhaps you’ve developed a new way to be productive from home? Or something that helps us work more efficiently for a client? Share it with the other employees!

The goal is to keep it focused and short. We also allow for what we call “Round 2” discussions if anyone has to have a more detailed discussion with someone.

For example, someone might say to me “Tony, can we round 2 this?” That means they want to have a little deeper conversation about a particular topic and don’t want to drag the entire team through the conversation. Remote workers want to have the ability to quickly get to work, so make sure that your stand-up calls are focused on efficiency.

Get Up, Take Mini 2 Minute Breaks

This will help you stay focused and get back to work, but also give you a short mental break so you can refocus. We recommend this to all of our employees, regardless of if they are remote workers or not.

Create and Stick to a List

There is only so much time in the day to get things done. You have both business and personal tasks that you need to accomplish every day when remote. If you get those done, you’ll feel good about yourself.

Keep a notebook next to your computer and jot down a shortlist of the tasks you need and CAN get done TODAY before your day starts. Cross them off when you get done.

Don’t worry if you don’t get everything done while doing remote work. The exercise of thinking through what you can and need to get done today helps you get good at planning out your day when remote.

Work to a Schedule on a Daily Calendar

Time is your only resource. Have you ever noticed when you absolutely NEED to keep a schedule during a given day, the day seems to go by faster? That’s because your mind has already blocked off the time and ONLY uses that time for a particular task, so it does. Productivity is king when you tell your employees to work from home.

Not every remote day is jam-packed, but if you schedule your time out and stick to the schedule it will help you and your employees organize yourselves around your remote work needs.

is working remotely a good idea

Use a CRM for Sales Related Work

When working remotely in sales, it’s crucial that you are responding to new opportunities that come to you quickly and following up religiously with ongoing conversations.  A CRM is the most critical tool you can have to organize and track all your sales activities.

what does it mean to work remotely

Have Shared Access to Your Team’s Calendars

This is essential for remote workers. Remote work is much easier when everybody can see what the other employees have scheduled so they know when not to schedule conversations.  It’s also helpful so you can see when a person has blocked off time for other priorities.

How-Tos for Setting Up Software to Help Your Teams Work Remotely

If your team has never worked remotely before, here are a few inexpensive and free tools you can use to stay connected and maximize remote productivity.

Free Tools That Are Easy to Use

Other Tools to Use

Helpful Resources

Video: Understanding Marketing Performance with Comprehensive Reporting

When you and your team working remotely it’s important to have access to team and company performance data.

Here is a presentation I gave as part of CallRail’s Marketing and Sales Bootcamp. Fannit helps develop lead generation sales enablement processes, so it’s critical that we get visibility through comprehensive reporting.

In this video, I give you some examples and a methodology for getting to good reporting for marketing and sales.

Final Thoughts on Working Remotely

Be thankful we live in an age with the technology to work remotely so easily, not all are so lucky. Embrace the challenge and you’ll feel freer with your remote work. You’ll also feel more productive than ever before!

Be creative with how you connect with your team(s). At Fannit, we instituted Remote Work Wednesdays several years ago to allow our team members to have time to themselves to get their remote work done without the office interruptions, a commute, and other distractions out in the world – now they are more prepared to work in challenging times when being remote is mandatory.

This too shall pass – it always does, it always will.

Hopefully, this post and the resources we provided was helpful to you and your team on take advantage of remote work to max out your productivity. You can always reach out to support@fannit.com if you need help with any of this or connect with Tony Lael on LinkedIn

Post written by Tony Lael, rights reserved by Fannit Internet Marketing.