KIN blog

Remote Working for the first time?

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Give it Time

For a lot of people it is their first time working remotely. Please give yourself some time to get used to it. Here is some advice from KIN researcher dr. Ella Hafermalz based on her PhD research on Remote Work.

remote working

6 tips to get you going

  1. Struggling to be productive and concentrate? It always takes a while to settle in to remote work, and this is not a normal transition. Don’t beat yourself up, give it some time. 
  2. Establish routines: When do you like to do concentrated work? When is a good time for chatting? Do you enjoy a coffee in the morning? Where do you like to sit for each activity? Find some daily rhythms that work for you and incorporate ‘connection routines’ to check in with colleagues (and friends) regularly.
  3. Where are your digital frontstage and backstage? Some sociology: Erving Goffman used the metaphor of theatre to describe everyday life. We have frontstage spaces where we ‘perform’ and backstage spaces where we relax and get to know each other on a more personal level. What are your digital front stages, where you can perform your work, engage others, generally do your thing (e.g. ESN, LinkedIn, Websites)? And where are your digital backstages, that are more private and allow you to test out new ideas, have a whinge, and a laugh? 
  4. Low-fi comms are key: You don’t need a high fidelity video conference for everything. Instant messaging, email, ESM (e.g. Slack) can go a long way. Everyone is online at the same time right now and you want to preserve bandwidth. Find your channels, experiment. Big-group video meetings are a recipe for wasted time. 
  5. If you are in a management position, get some routine around your check-ins with direct reports. What medium? How often? Phone is a good option. If an employee knows they have a 1-1 meeting with you coming up, they can save up all their questions for you and focus on their work.
  6. Demonstrating your presence and value to an organisation when everyone suddenly goes remote is tricky stuff. It will take time to get it right. Remote working, like online teaching, takes skill and you’ll learn from experience – don’t expect to be a pro overnight. 

General advice: Stay well: check out some online exercise videos (there are great apartment friendly ones), eat well, wash your hands. Remember that this is an unusual situation – people have full houses and are caring for themselves and others. Cutting yourself and your colleagues some slack is likely the most constructive thing you can do right now. Good luck all!

What to read more about remote work?

Here are some Books and papers Ella recommends:

Book: Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Blog: Would you rather be watched or forgotten? by Ella Hafermalz

Research article: About the fear of exile for remote workers by Ella Hafermalz (

Research article: Case study on remote work by Ella Hafermalz and Kai Riemer

Podcast: Remote Working LODcast featuring Ella

Ella Hafermalz is an Assistant Professor at KIN. Her PhD looked at how remote workers use technology to stay connected with each other and the organization. Ella’s recent research is on Explainable AI in work and organizing.