5 (More) Tips for Librarians Working Remotely

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

March 16, 2021

Back in August 2020, I shared 5 tips for working remotely. When I wrote that post, I still thought that many of our jobs would eventually return to the office.

Now, you may already be back in the office, or perhaps you never worked from home. Close proximity to your collections may be necessary for your job responsibilities. For others, you may be approaching the year mark of working from home. According to LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index, over 50% of employees believe their companies will continue to let them work from home at least part-time after the pandemic. Many companies have already announced new telework policies (see this Forbes article). Currently, many organizations are weighing whether or not they will bring their employees back to the office full-time after the pandemic. Organization decision makers are asking whether it is worth spending money on real estate if work can be completed from home. Some employees indicate they enjoy working from home at least part of the time and would like to continue after the pandemic ends.

If jobs become permanently remote, or even maintain a hybrid work model, what do we need in order to be successful? Here are my tips:

  1. Get a ring light: I am starting with what may seem like a silly tip, but I recently invested in a ring light and to say it has had a positive impact would be an understatement. In my work, I record a lot of videos and spend a great deal of time on video calls. Getting the light right has always been a challenge. A ring light eliminates the concern with overhead lighting. 
  2. Stay connected with colleagues: By using tools such as Slack, Teams, or Google Chat, you can have a quick conversation similar to those hallway conversations we were all used to having. For me, finding ways to ask a quick question was one of the biggest hurdles and has proven to be very valuable. It keeps me in the loop while also allowing me to step away from my desk for a few minutes knowing the message(s) will be there when I return. Using communication tools also lessens the number of e-mails I receive! 
  3. Establish norms: If you are still working full-time, or partially, from home, you are likely in a routine. What teams may still be working to establish is how to onboard new hires virtually, how to troubleshoot issues, etc. Especially if you are a manager it is necessary to think through what norms you want for your team and how best to establish them. 
  4. Practice self-care: One of the biggest challenges I find with working from home is that work is always present. I can never truly get away. Now, to be honest, this was always a bit of an issue for me, because my e-mail is on my phone, and it is too easy to monitor my e-mail at all hours of the day. However, I have found that placing some boundaries around working from home has been beneficial. For example, I sleep a bit later because I do not have a commute. Discover what self-care practices work for you. 
  5. Tell your boss what you need: When you do not see someone in-person most days it can be difficult to know what others need. It is important to be clear and upfront with your supervisor about what is needed for you, and if applicable, your team, to be successful. This can feel like an awkward conversation, but if you are organized and can justify your requests the conversation will be less so. Finally, before making requests determine how best to align needs to the organization’s mission and vision. 
Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri. Please read her other posts about skills for special librarians. And take a look at Lucidea’s powerful integrated library systems, SydneyEnterpriseand GeniePlus, used daily by innovative special librarians in libraries of all sizes and budgets.

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