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Remote Worker Tools

Employees who work remotely often learn that working remotely is different from what they expected and that it requires a plan, specific skills, and new habits. Follow the Eight Steps for Successful Remote Work on this page then review the Remote Work Resources page for tools, training, and best practices to help you build skills and habits for successful remote work.

Eight Steps for Successful Remote Work

  1. Define your workspace. It can be easy to sit on the sofa with your laptop and expect to get work done. Experienced remote workers will tell you they tried that and it simply doesn’t work. We are creatures of habit and most of us are used to lounging with our laptops to read the news, watch TV, play games and chat with friends and family. Establishing a workspace, even if it is your kitchen table, gives your brain a cue that it is time for work and not play. See IU’s office ergonomics resources for more guidance on setting up a suitable work area.
  2. Master the basics.
    • Add your remote work schedule to your email signature line.
    • Set up call forwarding.
    • Know how to access the IU network and other tools you regularly use
    • Use Skype or Teams or another instant messaging client to stay connected to colleagues.
    • Plan for video calls/meetings by making sure you know how to turn on your computer’s camera and microphone and being aware that your colleagues may be able to see the background behind you.
  3. Set daily goals, track them and share your progress. You may be surprised by how differently the work day passes without the comings and goings of an office to break things up or influence what you do next. Start each day of remote working by writing down what you need to achieve and then track your progress. Pay attention to how long tasks take you and start adjusting your daily goals to match your current rhythm. Communicate with your leader and colleagues if you think your remote work plan needs to be changed.
  4. Eliminate distractions. Working from home can mean pets, children or a favorite hobby are only a few feet away. Depending on your living arrangement, you may need to hang a “do not disturb” sign so your family members don’t interrupt you. Pets often need a closed door to keep them away, and you might need headphones to block neighborhood noise.
  5. Prioritize privacy. Whether you are in your home or a common area, take five minutes to assess the privacy of your workspace. Can someone stand behind you and read your computer screen? Are your windows open so your neighbor can hear your phone call? What information do you need to secure before grabbing a cup of coffee or heading to the restroom? Of course, your personal privacy matters too, so see if there anything around you that you would not want visible during a video conference with your leader.
  6. Stay connected. Many people say they do not call or instant message colleagues who are working remotely because they don’t want to bother them. Remember, they are working, not vacationing at home. You should feel confident about calling or messaging an employee working remotely anytime you would walk to their office or call them if you were working on-site.
  7. Dress for work. Just like sitting on the couch can make us feel a little too relaxed, wearing pajamas all day makes it hard to get into work mode. Dressing casually is a perk of working at home but getting “ready for work” is a daily ritual that many remote workers swear by.
  8. Practice self-care. Take time to focus on your well-being and cope with stress. Healthy IU has a collection of well-being resources to support you in the 8 Dimensions of Wellness. Reach out for help if you need it: benefits-eligible employees and family members have 24/7, 365 access to the IU Employee Assistance Program.