If you’re working remotely for the first time, here are some recommendations I’ve provided my clients who work remotely and/or manage remote teams. The challenge of working from home can be daunting at first, especially if over the years you’ve really enjoyed the energy and ideas that comes through in-person interaction.

Balance your online communications platforms. Zoom, Slack, and other communication platforms will help you feel more connected with your colleagues. And this recent article provides five simple tips for getting more out of web-meetings. But be careful about Slack, text messaging and email conversations that start heating up. If this happens, I recommend moving the conversation to Zoom or a call to sort things out. As we know, email, text messaging and Slack can be easily misunderstood and misconstrued, so be careful about relying on them too much and instead find a good balance.

Establish your weekly working hours in your online calendar, as though you were in an office setting. Stick to these hours as best you can and minimize distractions until you’re off the clock. Some days will be easier than others but build on your successful days by analyzing and reusing methods that are working for you.

Scrutinize your standing meetings. Like most of us, you probably attend too many meetings anyway.  The transition to working remotely is your opportunity to review which meetings are essential and which are not. Speak to colleagues who are running meetings to see if you can either stop attending or attending a portion of the meeting where your input is necessary.

Poorly run meetings are a huge timewaster, so try these tips to ensure meetings you’re running or attending are more productive. In short, understand the purpose of each meeting, why each person is attending, and the expected outcomes. These three simple things continue to vex executives and managers. Why? Because unclear and vague communication about the meeting leads to faulty assumptions all around. Clarify assumptions. State the obvious. You may find what was obvious to you was only obvious to you.

Try scheduling multiple 30-minute sprints of focused activity on your highest value work each day. These sprints should be timed and include a 5-minute rest period to stretch your legs. Just as in running “repeats” at full pace on a track, make sure you block out distractions during and stay focused. These are fun and you’ll be pleased with how productive sprints like these can be.

Check email at most twice a day. The switching costs in moving from high value work to checking email are greater than we realize, especially if we do this frequently. I encourage my clients to check and respond to email twice a day—before, 9.30am and after 3.30pm—and this has worked for many of them.  Hopefully, this tip and the others will work for you, too.

Best of luck in your new home-based office. Contact me at frank.rowe@cecondopinion.com if I can be of assistance.