In the wake of COVID-19, companies around the world are quickly changing how they get work done, which includes a shift to primarily remote work. As you navigate a remote work environment, keep the following best practices in mind to set yourself and your team up for success.

Set Up Your Remote Workspace

Create a remote work environment for yourself that is comfortable, productive, and professional.


Attire – While there is a certain appeal to wearing pajamas to work, we recommend that employees continue dressing for their company culture, just as you would in the office. You may be on video calls throughout the day and therefore professional dress is most appropriate. Changing into your work clothes in the morning also helps to set the tone for your day and promotes productivity.

Equipment – Make sure you have the tools you need for a full day in front of the computer. Check in with your employer about what hardware they will provide, what you can be reimbursed for, and what you may want to invest in for yourself.

Lighting – Set up your workspace near a window if possible for natural light and add additional lighting as necessary. Check to make sure you can be easily seen on video.

Comfort – Is your space set up ergonomically? If you are accustomed to a standing desk, you can set up a makeshift standing desk using an ironing board or counter top, or consider investing in a standing desk if possible.

Related Resources

Tips for Setting Up Your Remote Work Space

GitLab Best Practices on Getting Started with Remote Work

How to Stay Focused While Working from Home

Prepare for Remote Meetings

Participating in and leading meetings remotely creates new challenges, and new opportunities for efficiency and embracing best practices. Here are some helpful remote meeting tips from Harvard University HR:

Leading Meetings:

Create an agenda and send to participants in advance to keep the meeting on track.

Take pauses to ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate. It may take longer for team members to jump in over phone or video.

Summarize decisions and action items at the end. There will be less informal communication directly after the meeting to clarify so make next steps clear.

Participating in Meetings:

Log into meetings a few minutes in advance, just as you would arrive to a meeting in person.

Remember to mute when not speaking to minimize background noise.

For phone meetings, introduce yourself before speaking. “This is...”

Engage Your Employees

As a manager, it’s important for you to consider what has worked well for your team in person and how you can replicate or build upon those best practices virtually. Make sure your team has the support they need to succeed by reviewing these tips and implementing what works for you and your company.

Remote Work Management Practices:

Weekly 1:1 meetings with your direct reports by video call

Weekly group video calls with teams

Optional social time for employees to stay connected

Source suggestions from your team for what they need to be most productive/engaged

Set clear expectations and definitions of success along with systems to track progress to ensure employees can independently and collaborative work towards goals.

Utilize asynchronous writing for brainstorming sessions and team projects to allow time for reflection and utilize meeting time most effectively

Encourage employees to “unplug.” Set expectations for standard work times across time zones.

Related Resources

White Paper

The New Rules for Remote Work: Pandemic Edition

Best Practices for Remote Work from HBS Professor Tsedal Neeley

Know Your Team

Onboard New Employees Effectively

Onboarding remotely is a different experience than an office tour and handshakes around the room. As a manager bringing on a new team member, or a new employee integrating onto a team, use these virtual onboarding best practices to set structure for this process.

Virtual Onboarding Best Practices

1:1 video meetings with direct manager and key collaborators

Onboarding buddies

Virtual office tours – Send pictures or videos from the office, or give a live video tour if the office is open for in-person work

Virtual meeting shadowing

Online access to resources prior to start date

Online employee handbooks

Related Resources:

White Paper

How Remote Work is Changing What We Think About Onboarding

Onboarding Buddy Program at GitLab

LinkedIn 5 Day Virtual Onboarding Plan

Be Proactive

If you are starting a new remote role, you need to be proactive about asking questions to best understand company norms and the optimal ways of getting work done. You won’t be looking over the shoulder of your manager or sitting next to your peers so if the company is not explicit about certain topics, it’s imperative that you speak up and ask important questions so you don’t feel stuck.

Questions to Ask Your Manager:

What is the preferred mode of communication for certain topics – Slack, Zoom, WhatsApp, phone call, instant message, email?

How, and how often, would you like to be kept up to date on my work?

What is the best way to keep you up to date on my progress?

Who are the key stakeholders for this project?

What are the important milestones to hit and by when?

If we are working in different time zones, when would you like me to be online?

Does your company have recommended resources/best practices on remote work?

Network Remotely

Whether you are currently seeking a new role or not, building new connections is always going to be an important part of your career development. To network remotely you will need to be intentional, proactive, and creative about creating opportunities to meet new people.

Virtual networking ideas:

Reach out for virtual coffee chats inside or outside your company

Lead virtual happy hours

Invite a colleague or new connection to have a virtual lunch

Set up a mixer video call in which each person invites one other person to join to talk about what they are working on

Utilize the Alumni Directory and LinkedIn to connect with fellow HBS alumni

Join local or global online networking groups

Attend interactive webinars and follow up with speakers/fellow participants

Related Resources

Informal Communication Strategies from GitLab

Virtual Networking Strategies from Fast Company

Propose a Project

In the wake of COVID-19, companies are shifting their priorities and business plans. While this creates a challenging job market in many industries, it also surfaces an opportunity for job seekers to show their ability to take initiative and make an impact.

As you continue the networking conversations that are part of your job search, ask about major pain points the company is currently facing. If you see a fit for your skills and experience but there are not job openings available, consider proposing a clearly defined project you could take on that would add immediate value. Taking on project-based work virtually may lead to a full-time role with the company in the future or build up your experience to take on more projects or a full-time role at another organization.

Related Resources

Statement of Work Example

The Future of Project Work Webinar