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A Survival Guide to Being Stranded on a Remote (Working) Island

Apr 16, 2020

As written for Fargo, INC

Whether you’ve been working remotely for years or the current situation has forced you to make this transition much quicker than you had hoped, you’ve probably come to realize that working remotely just isn’t the same.

We are social beings who thrive off of daily face-to-face interactions. But now, with colleagues no longer at the adjacent cubicle or in the office next door, it’s easy to begin feeling like your stranded on an island all alone.

Here are just a few creative “survival tips” that our team has developed to help normalize their workday and stay connected to each other as much as possible:

  •  “Huddle up” daily – There are many unknowns and challenges that remote working can bring. In addition, there isn’t nearly as much interaction throughout the day. Having daily video check-ins, or “huddles”, help keep the team engaged, motivated, and interacting with their coworkers and reminds them that they are not alone.

I was so used to spending 40 hours a week with some of my coworkers, so it is very strange to not have that.  I miss the impromptu gatherings in the kitchen and talking face to face to my coworkers in the office every day. Although it isn’t the same, video calls do help because I can at least I can see a face and chat for a bit.”

  • Don’t be so serious/take a break – When working remotely, it can be easy to lose track of time and spend the entire day staring at your computer. Taking a little break to call or video chat with a coworker about your favorite TV show, read a chapter of a book you’ve been wanting to dive into, or getting up to get a snack isn’t a “time-waster”, but an effective way to break up your day and give you the boost needed to continue working.

“Moving to working from home, I was faced with lots of uncertainty, anxiety, and worry. I had to learn how to work through these issues by developing some habits and items that can ease my mind. I take lots of time to read and listen to positive or funny thinking items, just as a way to keep myself positive and be positive for other people.”

  • Set up your workspace – One of the biggest challenges that arise when working from home is separating your personal and professional life. Setting up your own “office” or workspace in a place where there is natural light and a lot of room will not only help make your home feel more like the work environment you’re used to, but will give you a physical space to separate your work and home life as well.

“I have my office set up in an area of my house I love to spend time.  There is a lot of natural light and I like the décor. Having this physical space in my home in a place I enjoy helps to establish some kind of familiarity, comfort, and routine.

  • Normalize your routine – For many, working from home is anything but normal. Getting up to do your daily morning workout, working similar hours, dressing like you do for work, and remaining diligent to your “normal” routine as much as possible can help maintain stability during this time.

“I try to stick to my “normal routine”, so I get up early and workout, and then get ready.  I also try to sign in around 8:00 and work a typical 8-5 (or close to that). Because of all the unknowns and challenges that arise, this helps me to maintain some normalcy in my life.”

  • Make yourself move – Sitting at your desk all day can make for a long day and, when working from home, there isn’t always an excuse to get up and moving like there is at an office. Hooking up your printer to another place in the house, setting up your space away from the kitchen or bathroom, or walking your dog on your lunch break will help you to keep moving throughout the day.

“I have implemented doing something different over my lunch break each day – walking/training with the dog, exercising, etc. – to keep me moving. I have even decided to sit around at different locations of the house to help feel not as stuck to one space, and put my desk away from the bathroom, kitchen, and printer so I have to get up and move for a bit. It definitely helps break up my day.”

  • Spread some positivity – If you’re struggling with working remotely, more than likely your co-workers are too. Sending them some encouragement, sharing some good news, and telling them why you appreciate them can help spread some positivity and brighten their day. Positivity is contagious!

“Working remotely has shown me just how important daily interactions are and how much they really mean to people. It’s cool to see how simply reaching out to them, asking them how they’re doing, seeing if they need any help, and acknowledging the parts that I appreciate about them can make a difference.”

In this short time, our team has developed some keyways to “survive” remote working and remind us that we’re not stranded on a remote island alone. While there are many challenges and unknowns, one thing is for sure: if we were stranded on a remote island and could only pick one thing to bring with, we’d pick our creativity to figure things out.

This situation has definitely helped us to hone that skill!