What To Do When Remote Work Isn’t Working

Longing for your office with no end in sight? Read on...


Welcome to Remotely Inclined, a newsletter about remote work and remote entrepreneurship. If you’d like to sign up, you can do so here. Or just read on…

On Tuesday, I published a newsletter on escapism for when you’re stuck at home. But what about those job requirements you can’t escape from? What if you suddenly find yourself managing people remotely for the first time? … What if remote work isn’t working for you? That’s what today’s newsletter is all about. 

When you’re out of escape mode and back into work mode, my guess is you have a lot on your plate. Suddenly, you’re managing an entirely different dynamic of your own work + your team’s work. And if you don’t have a team, you likely have coworkers (or even your bosses) who are kind of freaking out.

One challenge with the COVID-19 pandemic is that everyone is now an expert on remote work? It seems you can’t open social media without stumbling over multiple think pieces or a “massive” discovery that was probably discovered years ago by someone else. It’s exhausting to wade through when you’re already exhausted. 

My goal is to make that challenge much easier by bringing the best resources right to you, via this newsletter. I’ve highlighted a few resources that offer guides on what experience and researched-backed actions to take for different scenarios.

For when you’re still not 100% on this whole remote work thing… 

It’s a brave new world for a lot of people. If you’re used to working in an office, ignore all the self-proclaiming “remote work gurus” who only tweet about how ‘freeing’ remote work is. It’s difficult. You are not a failure for not grasping it all immediately. You’re also not a failure for not really liking remote work, especially in these circumstances.

If you’re not sure of how remote work differs from in-office, give this a read → McKinsey and Company’s Blueprint for Working Remotely

Still not sure about remote management and leadership? → Intersect’s Guide on Remote Team Management and Work Agreements.

PS - are you an individual contributor? Use these guides in reverse, taking them as notes to help your manager and company leadership.


For when you can’t tap someone on the shoulder… 

If you’re used to tapping your team member on the shoulder two desks over to ask a question, communicating remotely can feel cold and ineffective. It doesn’t have to be this way. 

Worried about doing Slack or another digital messaging app wrong? → Andrew Gosine’s helpful Twitter thread on Slack etiquette.

Have no clue how to video chat effectively? → Seth Godin’s 9 Tips for Video Chat Success.

For when you’re flipping out a bit… 

You have a ton of challenges on your plate and this added one isn’t going to make things any easier. 

I had the chance to chat with Jodi Echakowitz, whose business Boulevard PR has been fully remote for nearly 20 years. She shared the biggest tip that helped her along the way (and still applies now).

Jodi runs a public relations company, so she joined a group called Solo PR Pro. The monthly subscription gave her access to educational resources, but more importantly for Jodi, it gave her “access to a private Facebook group with other like-minded leaders within the PR sector. It's my equivalent to the water cooler.”

So what’s the takeaway? → Find a group of like-minded people in similar professional situations for mutual support

If this group doesn’t already exist or you can’t find it, start one. It’s never been easier to start a group online between Facebook and LinkedIn Groups features.

For when time management gets increasingly difficult… 

Time management is a nightmare at the best of times. Throw in a global pandemic and sudden change to you / your team’s working environment and things can get nasty. If you’re a new remote manager, your time management is crucial. The secret to success here is to think like an entrepreneur. 

Time management struggles? → 5 Time Management Principles for Entrepreneurs that Apply to Everyone.

For when sales are an even higher priority… 

If you’re in a situation where you’ve lost some customers due to COVID-19 related issues, finding new ones is more important than ever. However, the days of the “sales floor” are over, at least for now. You’ll need new ways to lead and support sales. 

No more sales floor? →Portage Venture’s 100 Tips for Remote Sales and Success.

For when you suddenly need new tools… 

In a remote environment, you have to find digital equivalents for everything you take for granted in an office environment. All forms of communication, working, and knowledge sharing need to be digitized. 

If you need more tools, check this out → Social Media Today: 50 Must-Have Tools for Working Remotely.

For when you’re hiring and onboarding new employees…

If your organization is in a position to not only not do layoffs but also hire, then you’ve got to make sure you do it right. 

Avery Francis is an HR consultant and has been helping companies grow for years. She also runs her HR consultancy, Bloom, 100% remotely. She recently published two helpful guides on remote interviews and remote onboarding. 

In the Wake of COVID-19, Here’s How to Build a Fully Remote Interview Process.

Here’s How to Build a Winning Remote Employee Onboarding Experience.

For when you can’t forget about mental health… 

In an office environment, you get the opportunity to look at someone’s face and body language - those two things alone can tell you a lot about someone’s mental health. That doesn’t exist in the remote world (or gets much harder due to small screens and limited face time. 

Don’t forget about mental health → A Clinical Psychologist’s Guide to Managing Mental Health When You’re Suddenly Remote.

And if distractions are getting you down → Remotely Inclined’s Guide to Warding off Anxiety and Distraction When Working From Home.

Know of another resource that readers will find helpful? Leave it in the comments!