Looking for tips for working remotely?
Working remotely is, understandably, an idea that interests many people – on paper, it looks like a great way to take greater control over your work schedule, and save yourself lots of time each day by avoiding the daily commute to a physical office, and the inevitable traffic jams that ensue.
However, if you don’t take a careful and structured approach to remote work, whatever your profession, the reality is that you might be better of working in the office.
Keeping distractions down to a minimum is paramount if you want to be successful with any online, remote jobs.
With that said, here are some of our top tips (in no particular order) to help you stay focused and become as efficient as possible when working remotely, or from home:
1. Plan your work schedule properly
As with any job, but especially important with remote, and stay at home jobs, you should have your work schedule for at least the next few days already planned out ahead of time (a full week ahead would be ideal).
Keep a planner, and a calendar close-by your workstation and be disciplined in keeping it up-to-date with meetings, deadlines, and other to-dos.
It can be easy to forget where you are up to when working remotely; after all, there is no one around to give you a friendly tap on the back and a reminder should you overlook something.
2. Stick to a strict routine
Another one of important tips for working remotely is to stick to a strict routine. Working remotely gives you a lot of flexibility. However, it is wise to give yourself structure. Set a reasonable time that you will begin work each workday.
Make sure that you wake up with plenty of time to get ready ahead of your agreed/self-defined start time. If you are to start at 9am, it is no good rolling out of bed at 08:57, and opening your laptop.
Aim to be ready for work, just as you would if you had to leave for the office – remote jobs should be treated no differently.
Before you sit down at your workstation, you should have already taken a shower, made and eaten a healthy breakfast, and got dressed as you would have if you were leaving the house. Getting into the habit of maintaining this routine is sure to boost your overall productivity.
3. Have a designated and organised workstation
Every remote worker needs a comfortable, and organised workstation. This will help ensure that you stay in “work mode” throughout the day, and is the approach that any serious remote worker should be taking.
Get yourself a proper chair, and make sure that you have plenty of office supplies, and any essential extras (chargers, printer, coffee pot etc.).
If you are using cafés or any public space for your remote work, make sure you pack the things you need and also be wary of having a cluttered desk.
It might seem obvious, but making just small changes in terms of becoming more organised in your remote work can see your productivity levels soar and help you master the tips for working remotely.
4. Avoid distractions
When working remotely, one of the main challenges you are going to face is keeping focused. To help you maintain concentration on the task at hand, give yourself set times to take breaks (and stick to them!).
Keep a full bottle of water or a coffee/tea pot nearby to prevent you having to keep leaving your workstation mid-task. Get up from your workstation and go for a five-minute walk to rest your eyes, and refresh your mind.
Try your utmost to avoid procrastinating on social media platforms, or generally just browsing the Internet. We aren’t robots, and some degree of time-wasting is to be expected but you should be wary of its pitfalls at all times.
Also avoid the temptation to multitask, you already have your daily list of tasks to complete, so go through them methodically, giving each of them the proper undivided attention that they require. There are a plenty of productivity apps that can help you along the way!
5. “Working” means actually working
When working remotely, and especially when working from home, it is very easy to find yourself distracted by things like household chores, making a “quick” call to catch up with a friend or family member, make a doctor’s appointment etc.
To be as productive as possible when working remotely, during work hours you must stave off the urge to see to any personal tasks you have on your agenda. Just as you would when in an office, use your designated break time to take care of personal business!
The key is to make a clear distinction between your professional life, and your private life. Don’t allow friends and family to interfere, make it clear to them that you are busy at work, and can speak to them later when you are on break or have finished for the day.
This can be especially difficult if they are at home during your working hours, but you have to set constructive boundaries with them.
6. Communicate as much as possible with your team
It’s easy for remote workers to feel disconnected from the company, and the rest of their co-workers. When working remotely, your team should make every effort to keep each other updated on plans, progress, and any gripes that have arisen.
There should be at least one meeting a week where the team can share any praise they have received from customers, or their own achievements across that week.
Another thing that we highly recommend is using video when making calls to your co-workers and also your clients. This allows you to build up an extra level of rapport, and works very well in helping you to maintain your working relationships.
These small things, all help each member of the team feel valued and actually part of a team. This is always important in any workplace, but takes on extra importance with remote work.
7. Know when to hit the OFF button
One of the most challenging things a novice remote worker will encounter is knowing when to switch off. This is especially hard, given that the world has become so inter-connected.
Remote workers are often bombarded with notifications of chat messages and emails, at all hours. You have to understand from an early stage in your remote work career that you don’t always need to answer such messages immediately – you need some downtime too!
Just as with the time you begin work, it’s worth defining the time at which you walk away from it for the day. As already discussed, one of the best parts of working remotely is the flexibility it gives you.
Don’t blow that benefit by frazzling yourself before you really get started in your remote work career! Be careful not to set yourself the task of maintaining the unrealistic standard that you are available 24/7.
Above all, you have to look after your health.
As you can see from the advice given above, it’s clear that maintaining focus, and a professional mindset is key to ensuring a productive output when working remotely. If you are able to get to the stage where you treat your remote work the same as you would if going into an office, you are more than on your way to mastering the art of working remotely.
If you still struggle to keep yourself properly focused, and find yourself slacking off for 10-15 minutes here and there to get non-work related tasks done, here is one final tip: use a prop or a picture placed close to your workspace and pretend that it is your eagle-eyed boss, watching over you!
If you are still struggling to maintain concentration, then maybe remote work isn’t for you – we are all different and working remotely certainly isn’t suited to everyone.
Working remotely isn’t as easy as it might sound, and it does take some tinkering to find the right balance that works for you. Follow these tips for working remotely mentioned above to give yourself the best chance of success in your remote work. Good luck!
Background noise can have a drastic impact on productivity and concentration, whether you are working remotely from home, or in the office.
If you regularly use (or plan on using) noise cancelling headphones when making calls over the Internet, then you should definitely check out Krisp.
This nifty noise cancelling app filters out pesky background noise at both ends, meaning that you can both speak and listen without noise. This leads to a significant boost in the quality of your calls. Try it for yourself, and let us know how you get on in the comments!
What do you think are the major challenges faced when working remotely? Do you agree with the advice given in this article? Do you have any experiences of working remotely that you would like share with us? Let us know in the comments below…