When it comes to working remotely, there is no one-size-fits-all formula. Every person has different ways of working. Different time zones. Different geographic locations. Though the rise of remote work is not something new, many people are still determining how to work remotely through trial and error, while doing their best to stay productive.
Though most people love to work remotely because of the flexibility, the lack of commute, the decrease in distractions, the ability to travel and move anywhere, the increased productivity, and of course, the chances to be closer to their family, remote work has a lot of challenges for both veterans and people who are getting started. It is easy to fall into different traps and issues of remote work, especially if you are new to it.
Whether you are new to this or just looking to level up, the following ten best tips for working remotely can help you stay productive and maintain balance.
1. Set Up a Designated Workspace
Just because you are not working at an office doesn’t mean you can’t have an office. Rather than staying in your room or sitting on the couch in the living room (spaces linked with leisure time), dedicate a specific room or space in your home to work remotely. It is easy to stay mentally focused if you set up a particular space in your home to get work done. That place could be a home office, a spare bedroom, or some other dedicated area that offers privacy. If you find a spot that provides natural light, it would be even better.
Additionally, if you will be making video calls while working, make sure you have a nice background that you will not mind having others see. Quiet areas promote focus and convey professionalism when conversing. Locate the workspace as far as possible from common sources of noise. Set up the space with everything needed to be efficient and productive, such as a computer, high-speed Internet connection which can support video conferencing, a desk, an ergonomic chair, and office supplies.
2. Set Boundaries
It is important to set boundaries when working remotely as sometimes your family and friends might think that you are always available because you work from home. If your spouse, children, or other family members are all in close quarters, give them signals as to when to leave you alone. You should set boundaries with them by explaining to them your availability. For instance, if the door is closed, you are on a conference call and don’t want to be disturbed.
Communication is crucial to being successful in any professional role, but when it comes to remote work, communication is an even more important asset. “Out of sight, out of mind can cause problems for remote workers,” says Sara Sutton, Founder and CEO of FlexJobs, a remote job listing site. According to her, “the best remote workers will reach out to colleagues and managers regularly using different tools.”
As you are not sitting in the office near your coworkers or manager, it is your task to schedule one-to-one check-in meetings with them on a regular basis to communicate about your daily tasks, objectives, and upcoming projects. Communicate frequently with them and know what is expected of you. Talk about yourself and clearly state the progress you have made previously, which goals you have achieved, and which projects you have worked on. It can be hard for your manager to keep your work of greatest concern when you are not at the office, so be courageous enough to bring important milestones up on your own.
4. Define Your and Your Team’s Responsibilities
How many times did you end up delivering a task which was not actually asked of you? Or, how many times have you done something to realize that someone else has also done the same thing? It happens with remote teams, where communication is more challenging. So, it is important to be totally clear about responsibilities. Or else, communication mishaps can happen every now and then.
If workers are confused, many unwanted meetings are getting conducted, emails are flying around, and many questions are coming your way, it possibly indicates that their responsibilities are unclear to them. Begin with defining responsibilities on a project, write down who is responsible for what, and share it with the team. And if you are not very sure what you are supposed to be doing, then ask. Make a call to your manager and make sure that you are clear about what has expected of you. And if you are a manager, check in with your team to find out if they get their duties.
5. Stay Aligned with Company Culture
While working remotely, make sure you keep everything aligned with your existing company culture. Though working this way greatly impact interactions as you are no more together in person, you can make sure that the little, nice things you did in the workspace continue. This may vary from person to person and their bonding with other coworkers, like texting, sending emails, sharing funny, work-appropriate GIFs or animations over Slack or other messengers, and chatting about your family, social life, sports, or anything else you would normally do while taking breaks in the office. These little things will prove to be extremely helpful in reducing feelings of anxiety and isolation.
6. Take Scheduled Breaks
Working remotely can be quite challenging as it is easier to lose track of time. When working, it is important to take breaks for better productivity. According to one survey, almost 90% of American workers said that taking the lunch break greatly helped them feel energized and ready to get back to work. Those who work in a traditional office can easily stop by a colleague’s desk for chatting or head to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee. But remote workers usually lose track of time while working.
So, when you work for a company, learn about their policy on break times and take them accordingly. And if you are self-employed, give yourself enough time throughout the day to walk away from the computer screen or phone. The lunch hour and two 15-minute breaks seem to be usual for full-time American workers. For computer-based work, it is important to get up and move to get the blood circulating often, at least once an hour. Moving your eyes off screen after every few minutes is also good for the health, even if it is a microbreak of 10-20 seconds.
7. Create Boundaries Between Work and Life
Mostly, for remote workers, the boundaries between work and life start to blur. When we work from home, the work and home environment combine into a never-ending entity. Right from waking up, we check our email, sit down to have a meal while working, keep working all day, the night starts, and we are still working. This can be extremely unhealthy and unproductive.
Unplugging is paramount. As a remote worker, you can do this by setting boundaries that help separate work from normal life. Otherwise, you’ll get caught up in social isolation and even depression. Decide when you are working and when to call it a day. That way, you won’t have to work all day long. This can also be done by walking out of the special workspace that you have already dedicated.
8. Build Community Outside of Work
If you are working remotely, you will certainly need humans for interacting with in real life to fight off depression, even if you are an introvert. Build this community however it works for you – joining a sports club, running group, making friends at the gym, etc. Create such a community and actually hang out with them on a regular basis.
9. Embrace the Perks of Working Remotely
Working remotely doesn’t always apply to those people who work from home or live in the same region as their company’s office. You can take your talent with you anywhere on the planet if it is possible with your current position. Working remotely includes employees, entrepreneurs, and freelancers working from places like Croatia, Estonia, Thailand, Vietnam, etc., all while enjoying the support of an amazing remote workers community.
10. Not Every Day is a Perfect Day
We are all human beings, and being human means not getting it all done sometimes. It is completely normal to have a day off from work. Remote work is usually a highly productive approach to work, due to which it may feel even worse to have a day when your productivity isn’t at its maximum. There will be some days when we make mistakes, have less focus, and are off our game. Taking a day off occasionally is completely okay as long as it doesn’t become a trend.
Whether you are somebody new to remote work or you have been doing it for many years, figuring out how to do it productively can still be challenging. The incredible tips we have provided can help you make the most of your new routine. If you rely on the tips listed above, you can do productive working from home as you are in the office. Simply change where you sit, put on some music, whatever helps you work, and enjoy the perks.