This article was originally published on EdSurge on March 10, 2020.
In the shadows of a potential COVID-19 pandemic [now confirmed], many schools, businesses and other organizations are preparing to keep the lights on by allowing, encouraging or requiring their employees to work remotely.
In some cases, this will be an abrupt switch from a culture that required butts-in-seats from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily to a distributed workforce where no one is in the same physical location. In other situations, it will amount to an increase in telework from the occasional day or two to full time.
Either way, adjusting to this new modus operandi, for a brief period or forever, is a shift that cannot be taken lightly. In order to remain a productive member of any distributed team, each person must find his or her footing in this new way of working.
I have been a full-time remote professional for nearly 12 years, ever since I went from working at home a day or two a week to doing so full time in 2008. The landscape has changed a lot since then, according to Flexjobs analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows the number of people working remotely in the U.S. at least half-time grew 115 percent between 2005 and 2017.
With a greater number of people putting in hours outside of a shared central office, the systems and personnel procedures are slowly catching up and may be hastened by threats such as pandemics or natural disasters.
Here’s how individuals can successfully operate as remote professionals:
- Understand the ground rules
- Carve out space
- Establish boundaries for friends, family and neighbors
- Use your tools
- Maintain a professional mindset
- Network online