The coronavirus pandemic is changing our relationship with work. With countries whole in quarantine, even companies that are most opposed to the concept of remote work are forced to accept the possibility, or will have to temporarily end their activities.

Work remotely it has some advantages (no traffic!), but also some pitfalls that can hinder or impede your productivity. If you already adopt the practice, even if only a few times a month, you probably know some of the tips that we will give here. If not, it is worth paying attention to them before leaving the office. Good job!

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1) Prepare the infrastructure

Before you start working remotely, make sure you have the necessary infrastructure to do this. Is your PC up to date and does the job? Is your internet connection fast and reliable enough? If you need a printer or scanner, are they working and have the necessary supplies? Will you have remote access to the materials (reports, spreadsheets, messages, documents) you need, or can you copy them to a USB stick or notebook?

Think of everything that is essential in a typical workday (everything, even if you have coffee powder or capsules for the coffee maker), make a list and check item by item. Better to spend some time getting ready than to promise your boss that you'll be able to work "normally" at home and discover, at the last minute, that you can't keep your promise.

2) Have a plan B

Finnagle's law says, "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time." What are your plans if a system update unexpectedly prevent your PC from working properly? If the internet connection goes down, can your 4G plan do the trick? If for some reason you are unable to work from home, is there any other place you can go?

It is impossible to prepare for any eventuality, but you can at least map the most likely scenarios and think of solutions. So, you don't run the risk of letting your team down.

3) Follow the routine

Humans are creatures of habit, and they can be powerful allies when it comes to working from home. Try to wake up at the same usual time. Take your shower, your breakfast and dress like you are going to the office. Stop for lunch and come back from lunch at the same time as always.

These little rituals help to put the brain in "work mode", something that will be essential for you to stay productive.

4) Avoid distractions ...

Our homes are full of temptations that can wipe out your productivity. The soft bed, the video game, the TV with thousands of series to watch, our pets. All of them capable of transforming that "one minute" break into something that will ruin the day's production.

If you have an office or extra room at home, great: make it your “headquarters” and close the door, putting temptations on the other side. If not, you will have to resort to other methods.

One that works really well for me are good headphones (if possible with noise cancellation) and a playlist of my favorite songs, which helps to filter out noise from the outside world. I call this "deaf mode", and it's great for staying focused on the current task.

5)… but don't forget the breaks

Even at the company, you don't work eight hours a day uninterrupted. You take a break for coffee, walk a little to stretch your legs, talk about the news of the day with your coworkers.

In remote work you must do the same. I usually divide my tasks into “blocks” and insert breaks between them, as small rewards. A cup of coffee after finishing this article, a walk in the yard after the meeting, and so on.

The important thing is not to get carried away by these breaks (see topic above). One tip is to avoid activities that you wouldn't do at work: if you don't take a break from the office to play Call of Duty, watching a video on YouTube or an episode of a series on Netflix, don't do the same when you're working from home.

6) Set limits

Talk to your family and make it clear that it is not because you are physically at home that you are always “available”, whether it is to put clothes in the machine, help with homework or change a lamp.

Set your hours to "enter" and "leave" the office hours and inform that during this period they must consider that you are not around. Yes, it is difficult especially for young children to understand this. But you have to try, or you're going to go crazy.

Likewise, make it clear to your team that it is not because you are always online that you are always working, and that any out-of-hours demands will only be dealt with on the next business day.

7) Stay in touch

It is important to keep in constant contact with the rest of the team. Resist the temptation to make “a WhatsApp group” for this, because on WhatsApp you already have your personal contacts, and the risk of the app becoming a huge distraction is great.

Better to use more focused apps, like Slack ou Microsoft Teams (for individual or group conversations) and tools like Google Docs ou Office Online for collaboration. With them, it is easy to share documents, or even create something for four or more hands.