For many hybrid companies, the office becomes a ghost town starting around the second or third week of December and continuing through mid-January. If you have the luxury of working for a company with a flexible remote work policy, you may be one of the lucky ones who gets to avoid the busy holiday travel crowds and get some much needed rest and relaxation.
If you are traveling and working remotely for all or part of the holidays, it requires special planning and care to avoid first-timer mistakes. Additionally, if you haven’t worked remotely before, it may be an adjustment in general. For newbies and veterans of holiday work, these tips and tricks will definitely give you some good reminders before the holiday rush.
Bring portable chargers (that are charged).
Even with your charged devices, if you want to be productive on a plane or train ride, your battery may lose an entire charge depending on your trip length. Bring backups to keep yourself prepared and keep your phone, laptop, Kindle, iPad, or other device loaded until you arrive.
Download files to use offline.
Even with most planes, trains, and buses having WiFi these days, some don’t have it at all. When they do have WiFi, it’s usually spotty or slow, so downloading presentations or files to work on offline can actually create a more productive work environment than one using WiFi.
Bring a MiFi device.
While you’re waiting in the airport, similarly to tip 4, the WiFi can be spotty and expensive for faster service. Bring a MiFi device that allows you to create a personal hotspot anywhere. This way, you’ll only pay data fees for however long you need.
Find a place with no distractions.
If you’re trying to actually accomplish work while home with your family or friends, sitting in the middle of the hubbub won’t help. You may feel like you’re working, but if you’d just found a quiet space, you could have finished your task in a quarter of the time, leaving you more one-on-one time with your loved ones.
Make sure you have the tools you need.
Don’t forget your laptop charger, headphones, wireless mouse, video conferencing camera, or any files you may need. Particularly for the folks who are traveling long distances, forgetting something may mean 2-4 weeks without it, so do final checks before you leave and think far into the future.
Update your calendar to reflect your schedule.
Team planning can get tricky when some teammates are online the week of Christmas, but not the week of New Year’s Day, some are online and offline every other day it seems, and others are not available at all (maybe they’ve been saving their vacation days for a nice, long break.) Everyone is entitled to their own schedule, but it’s important to let your team, clients, or anyone you work with know when you’ll be available and unavailable.
Set your Slack/email away messages appropriately.
Going off of tip #3, make sure your team knows what you’re up to throughout the day. Remember that while you’re working remotely at hours different than you normally work, your teammates may not be taking time off and working at full speed without having changed their hours. If you’re around one minute and gone the next, teammates may get frustrated trying to pin you down when your Slack profile shows you as available. Use your instant messenger and email vacation responder to let people know where/when you are at a given time. Remember, it’s ok to be away and fully disconnect during the holidays. Just keep in mind that if you say you’re working, be present and accounted for!
The holidays are a wonderful time to destress and take a break from work, but the flexibility of remote work has opened the door for lengthier and more blended holidays away from the office. Set boundaries for yourself and your team and make sure to disconnect for time with family and friends away from your laptop/phone/tablet. The holidays are a time to have real facetime with loved ones, so we hope that remote work enables you to have more time with your family this holiday season.