Remote work: tips, tools, and techniques for making the shift

First published 23 March 2020

The majority of the world is now shifting to remote work for the first time in history. 

For many people, this throws out existing routines and habits and may create new pressures for individuals, families, and teams.

Tribe Global founders and QUT entrepreneurs-in-residence, Peta Ellis and Aaron Birkby are change management experts. They have both worked from home as business owners juggling the demands of work and family. Both have led individuals and teams through periods of change and challenging business situations to unlock their potential. 

"Working remotely means something different for everyone, as we all have different situations and vastly different home environments. It's not a one-size-fits-all approach, and it's crucial to find what works best for you and your team," explains Peta. 

Aaron adds, "While many companies already offer their staff flexibility around working from home one or two days a week, going full-time creates its own set of challenges." 

"Add to that the extraordinary challenges COVID-19 will place on households; the key factors companies will need to address is managing a changing environment and maintaining a positive mindset."

Peta and Aaron have shared some tips for shifting to remote work while maintaining physical and mental wellbeing, focus, and work-life balance. 

Don't sleep in; use your morning for you

Wake up at your usual time and add new morning activities that energise you. Design your new ideal morning routine, perhaps including exercise, meditation, yoga, time in nature, listening to podcasts, or reading.

Get yourself completely ready for the day before you start to do any work.

Commute to work

Even if you are working from home, creating a commute to work can trick your brain into switching into 'work mode'. Consider going for a walk around the block, or via a local café for a takeaway coffee, as your virtual commute, to transition yourself ready to start work. Your workday officially begins as soon as you walk back in the door.

Use a third space

A third space is any space that isn't your work or home. It could be a park, the beach, or even your car, bicycle or motorbike. If you can't venture out, a third space could also involve simply putting headphones on and listening to music on your deck

You can use a third space to transition between your modes of action, or as a space to de-stress and unwind, or for difficult conversations.

Stay focused with Pomodoro sprints

One of the challenges of working from home can be the constant distraction of other household members, kids, chores, and temptations. One technique to overcome this is to use a Pomodoro – schedule a short intensive period of work without any distraction (say 25 to 50 minutes) followed by a short break (say 5 to 15 minutes).


Free resources

We've covered just a few here. To see all 14 tips, you can download the complete guide. For those managing or leading teams, Peta and Aaron have also created the Tribal Leader's checklist for shifting teams to remote work