Many Americans are now a few months into working remotely—a practice that only a couple years ago seemed groundbreaking. When you transition to working from home, you’ll notice that there are key differences in setting yourself up for success compared to working on-site in an office.
At GiftCard Partners, we have been a remote company for over 15 years and our teams have experience overcoming the challenges of working from home. We polled our employees and put together the best insights on how we manage the remote work-life balance.
Here are our 7 steps for working remotely with success, whether you’re new to it or a pro.
1. Establish a routine you can stick to each day.
You need a clear start and end to your workday to get into the right mindset and focus on your tasks at hand. Lauren R. from our Marketing Team takes an hour each day to herself to exercise in the morning before the workday starts to set herself up for success. “I have continued to devote that time to myself, although at home in my basement now, during quarantine. I step away for snacks and meals (when I can!) and try to not spend all day sitting at my desk,” she says.
2. Dress for success.
Being home is comforting, but sometimes it can be a distraction. We all agree that it’s important to make getting dressed, maintaining personal hygiene, and organizing your work area parts of your daily routine. When you have clients and customers you conference call (like we do), it’s important for each employee as well as their surroundings to look professional. Renate B. from our Operations Team makes it a point to get dressed in the morning and tidy up around the house, or else it becomes a distraction. She adds, “I tell friends and neighbors, just because I work from home does not mean I am available for play dates.”
3. Differentiate your workspace.
It’s tempting to work from the couch or kitchen table, but if you’re working from home permanently you’ll want to set up a space that will help keep you focused. Michelle O. from our Operations Team has an office set up in her home with all the tools and equipment she needs—telephone, printer, strong internet connection, etc—to set her up for success. She says, “Having a dedicated space for working makes it that much easier to shut off and walk away at the end of my day.”
Many people assume working remotely means heading over to the local coffee shop or library and firing up your laptop. While that may work for some, Alex Z. from our Marketing Team says “I’ve found that having a dedicated home office decreases distractions, allowing me to better focus and increase my productivity. Create a workspace environment that you look forward to going to every day! Having an organized, decorated, and comfortable home office has been extremely helpful in separating work from life."
4. Schedule your breaks and check-ins with colleagues.
Along with scheduling out your day, several employees at GiftCard Partners stress the importance of making time for breaks and connecting socially with peers.
Hannah N. from our Marketing Team says, “When I worked in an office, it was easier to take breaks by getting coffee, checking with a coworker at their desk, walking to the printer, etc. and now I have to make a little more of an effort to do those things so I don’t find myself in the same position for 8 hours.”
5. Go outside regularly.
When working from home, it’s easy to stay inside for long stretches of time—especially after the stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic—but it's important to make time for exercise and getting fresh air to maintain good health. Brad B. from our Sales Team stresses the importance of getting out more often: “Sometimes you forget that 3-4 days may go by and you have not left the house except to exercise in the neighborhood (pre-pandemic era included).” Rob R. from our Management Team says, “It's important to take a few small breaks throughout the day to reset your mind as you finish out the workday.”
6. Strive for clarity and set clear goals.
Using digital tools is a great way to communicate remotely, but that doesn’t mean that things don’t get lost in translation sometimes. Remote employees are more likely to misinterpret instant messages or emails because these communication methods don’t allow for verbal cues or body language. It’s important to communicate clearly with your coworkers in your own individual way which you feel most effectively fosters collaboration.
Michelle O. (Operations) prefers to email first to give people the time to digest the information, then will set up a call if needed; Brad B. (Sales) recommends having clear agendas for each call so they don’t get off track; and Kate B. (Sales) says, “When communicating with co-workers, I ask if I may call first in case they are in the middle of something to be respectful of their time.”
When in doubt, sometimes it’s best to video chat with someone so you get the full picture. Deborah Merkin, our CEO, says, “I have learned it helps to see someone’s body language and reactions to get a clear message.”
7. Choose incentives that help the work/life balance.
Incentives and rewards for a remote team are important to keep employees engaged with work and company culture. With little in-person contact, remote rewards foster stronger interpersonal connections, boost morale, and maintain motivation and focus. Bruce V. and Tom B. from our Sales Team both agree that having a little extra help with meal planning goes a long way: Tom says, “Not having to worry about cooking at the end of the day is really helpful.”
Working from home poses its own challenges, different from working in an office. At the end of the day, the key to success is to manage your workflow and space so it’s easier to stay focused.
In our experience, gift card rewards are essential tools to engage, motivate and inspire teams that work remotely. With so many employees working from home indefinitely, make sure to have the right tools at hand. Do you have any tips for working from home we didn't mention here? Leave a comment below to let us know.
Take a peek at our gift card catalog and find the right rewards for your team.