Tips for Remote Work from FINE Staff

Sarah Lyman, Director of Communications

FINE staff have been working remotely since our inception in 2011. We offer these suggestions and resources to those of you for whom this is new territory:

  • Tania Taranovski, "Many of us are working with new distractions (e.g., family members at home, high message traffic from our personal as well as professional networks). Rituals and coordinated schedules for all can help. Stagger meeting times, designate work/non-work areas and quiet zones, coordinate mealtimes and breaks. Other tips include: headphones, screens to block out background movement, use of virtual backgrounds in platforms like Zoom (instructions). And make time for humor and laughter! My family has a morning "staff meeting" before work starts to help with the coordination I recommended above. Sanitize your keyboard and phone daily!"
  • Hannah Leighton, "1. I always wear shoes to work, even if its in my home office. For some reason it makes me more productive 2. Have a dedicated work space, even if its just a specific chair, so at the end of the day you feel like you can "leave work". 3. It's easier to forget about pleasantries when you work remotely. Don't forget to take time to say good morning and check-in with your colleagues. 4. Get up and move around every hour."
  • Britt Florio, "Set up a group communication platform with folks on your team whether that a group text message, slack, or something else. Have set work schedules so you know when people are online and when they are not. This includes communicating about taking breaks, such as stepping away for a 30 min lunch, be back on at x time. Shared calendars highly recommended. Communicate your weekly work plan. Have a system to communicate what tasks have been completed, in progress or not yet started. You can still meet virtually! Use zoom, google hangouts, etc to connect with folks and hold productive meetings. Clear meeting objectives/agendas, Meeting facilitators and note-takers are essential."
  • Peter Allison, "Be patient with team members who may not be as familiar with new fangled digital formats - gently remind them they are on mute, etc. Make sure to create room for all to speak, which is especially important on calls when there is no body language to read - rotate facilitation and note taking roles, and call out each person to bring quieter voices forward and give louder voices a chance to rest."
  • Sarah Lyman, "I follow many of my former office rituals to focus my mind's attention to work: wake, shower, get dressed, listen to the news, eat breakfast - then sit at my desk. Working from home has the potential to be pretty isolating. In a workplace setting, we rely on body language cues to feel secure in the group. When that's gone, we must be more intentional about checking in, giving appreciations, and reinforcing the sense of team."
  • Dana Stevens, "The key to working form home is to use whatever resources you have available to create a physical and mental workspace and time that is separate from the rest of your life. 1) Create a schedule for when you are "in the office", share it with your team, and stick to it. 2) One tendency of working remotely is to always be available via phone, email, or your team's messaging app - however, it's important to remember that you need disconnected time to focus on "deep work" - make sure you schedule in this time and communicate when you are going into "deep work space" with your team (not familiar with deep work? Listen to this podcast. 3) Get dressed for work - pretend one of your colleagues is going to surprise you at your home office later that day - dressing the part helps you play the part, even if you won't be seeing anyone in real life or on a video call. 4) Set up a workspace that can be closed off from the rest of your living space (and whatever humans/pets/dirty laundry and dishes occupy it). 5) Take breaks, move your body (outside if possible!), drink water, eat a snack. 6) Remember that if working from home is a new routine for you, it will take some time to adjust. Be gentle with yourself and your team as you experiment and figure out what works best for you.