The advent of Coronavirus brought with it a significant change creating a “New Normal” in the global workplace. Companies and organizations are now being forced to make policies favouring their employees working remotely. We see tech companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and Shopify make announcements that their employees could choose to forever work from home even after the pandemic. So you see, working remotely really is the “New Normal”.
I woke up one day and discovered that I didn’t have to go to work every day, how amazing is that, right? I can finally binge-watch all my favourite shows during work hours, didn’t have to go through the stress of commuting to work and back every day, and can finally go visit people during the week! All these were what my ill-informed mind thought working remotely meant. You can imagine my shock when I discovered working remotely was anything but leisure and self-indulgence. From experience now, I can tell you working remotely is still work but work where you get to choose your location, what that means is, the same level of productivity, professionalism, excellence is required as if you were within the four walls of your company’s building. In this article, I will be discussing my experience as a Quality Assurance (Software Tester) and sharing some tips on how to effectively work remotely.
First, Preparation is key when working remotely. Normally a company would equip its offices with needed equipment such as internet service, chairs, tables, computers, and other necessary devices to ensure employees’ productivity, but that’s not always the case when you are telecommuting. Now, you need to create your own workspace. You need to consider where you would be working and what you need to work effectively. I recommend a quiet, comfortable, and productive space where you can get actual work done, join virtual meetings, and stay away from distractions. You need a functional computer, good internet services, a good chair if you are going to be working at a desk for long hours. Now that you know the things you need for your work, it’s time to know what your company needs from you.
Ignorance they say is not an excuse. Understanding expectations can never be overemphasized when working remotely. Having just left a job where I had to go in every day, my boss was always there to give me feedback. It was easy to assume the same rules would apply when working remotely, but that’s not usually the case. In teleworking, you need to understand that when people are working with different teams, from different places and different time zones; communication styles, communication channels, feedback channels, and expectations may differ. It’s important to understand the company or your boss’s expectations of you as a tester, the expected working hours per day, time tracking tool, meeting times, feedback channels, key performance indicators, new policies, and the company’s remote culture. How do you know all these, it’s simply by regularly communicating.
Communication is so important because it aids productivity.
A synonym for the role of a “Tester” in my own words, would be “communicator”. Communication is an integral part of software testing, the role of a tester basically consists of asking questions on how an application should work, testing, and then reporting your findings. As a tester, I find myself interacting and collaborating with all the teams involved in software development, this makes effective and frequent communication mandatory. There are so many communication and collaboration tools out there, we have zoom, Webex, Whatsapp, and so on.
Productivity while working remotely depends on how you do it. Whether telecommuting increases productivity has been faced with a varying number of mixed reviews with some saying it increases productivity, while others claim it does not. However, the case may be, experience has taught us that productivity depends on how you do it, in order words, staying focused, communicating effectively, working hard and being committed to quality work ensures productivity regardless of the location of your place of work.
Here are some tips to staying productive while telecommuting:
- Setting goals and having a timeline – Large tasks can be broken down into smaller bits, to ensure they are not so overwhelming.
- Set a schedule or timeline, and stick to it.
- Accountability – Ensure you are accountable to yourself, your colleagues, project managers, project owners, team leads, clients and boss, This is to ensure you are on the same page with the entire team.
- Continuous Learning – This ensures you keep up with the current trends in your field.
Lastly, As a saying goes, You cannot get water from an empty Tank. it is commonly perceived that normally, you can leave the stress of work in the office and come home to relax. But what we have seen is, working remotely puts a level of stress on a person due to the inability to draw a line between working hours and non-working hours and this leads us to the issue of Stress Management. Working remotely involves you working for longer hours than you would normally do, so it is important to prioritize your wellbeing. Thrive, a global teacher of workplace holistic wellbeing, explains that in addition to your drive and hard work; sleep, exercise, social interaction, and nutrition also contribute to your productivity and stress management.
So, I have discovered that in order to give my best in my career or job designation, I have to prioritize my relationships, skincare , hydration, social life, sleep, diet, and exercise.
In conclusion, whether you are already working remotely or about to start, I hope that getting a good workspace set up, understanding expectations that come with your job role, effective communication and collaboration, commitment to productivity and dedication to your holistic wellbeing helps you smoothly navigate your career journey.