Society often underestimates remote work, I mean how many times has working remotely been mistaken for ‘Working at home, in your pajamas, for as little time as you like, while watching TV?’ A lot of people think like this. Yet, this is a misconception. Remote work takes a great deal of discipline and perseverance to master. Just because you get to work outside of the typical office scene it doesn’t mean the work, or input, is any less! Work is work - it must always be professional.
Working remotely can either be something we want to do, or like many may have experience in 2020, it can be sprung upon you. Those who work remotely are expected to create some sort of daily routine for themselves, and they are supposed to complete their work as if they actually were in an office building. For those of you who may not have chosen to work remotely, this article will provide you with some great tips on how to ace working remotely - so you don’t feel too stressed out by the sudden change!
During the past year a number of companies have been decreasing their office hours, and have even been cutting down their work days in order to get more people to work remotely. Why? Because it turns out that working remotely is good! Productivity goes up drastically, as well as employee well-being when working from home evidence has shown. However, there are still a number of people who struggle with the concept, so we thought we’d help you out with our article!
Let’s take a look at how you can make the best of remote work.
1. Create your workspace
Generally, when you think of remote work you think about working from home, and this is the case with most people. You could however choose to do your work in a cafe, in a shared work space, or anywhere else you like.
We will run with remote work at home…
When working at home it is super important that you split up your family space and your working zone.
Why? Not all of us are ready to share our private lives with our co-workers, so to keep it professional you keep your personal things (pictures, tableware etc) out of the work zone. Plus, you still need to have a ‘relaxing’ space in your home, so you don’t want all your rooms to be associated with work, or you’ll never be able to switch off from your work at the end of the work day.
Additionally, as tempting as it may be, the couch is not the best place to do your work from. (This goes for your kitchen table as well). These places are too connected to your leisure time and will therefore make you too relaxed, which isn’t actually productive for you.
Also, in order to stay more organized with your remote work you need to choose a place to work in that is on your own.
Why? Because you need to try and imitate your actual office workplace. At your actual office workspace you wouldn’t let other family members distract you too often from your work, so don’t do it at home. Plus, you can keep all your tools, books, and papers in one safe space too this way!
The boundaries between professional and personal life are super important, whenever they are broken you feel stressed out.
The best option is to go to a separate room in the house and make this into your office. Here you can shut the door for privacy, you can get a desk, and you can have a comfy office chair. And all of this will help you to concentrate!
2. Set the boundaries
Let’s face it in this day and age you may be working remotely, but so are other members of your family.
It’s easy to lose boundaries when there are lots of you working remotely. So, set clear boundaries with everyone. Don’t sit everyone at one table to do work, if need be come up with a schedule of who is going to work when, if possible. Or try to split your living space into individual working zones.
For those who have children working remotely with boundaries doesn’t mean you cannot interact with them. On the contrary, it is a great opportunity for children to learn from you. Show them what responsibility is like and talk to them about when it’s okay to disturb you, and when it isn’t such a good time.
It’s a good idea to create a sign that you can stick up on the wall, so your family knows if you need privacy! And it’s something you can make with the children, so you get them involved too.
Schedules are a great way of ensuring that you know what you need to do and when. They are not a boring thing that everyone has to follow, believe me.
First of all, having a schedule will help you to stay organized, and it will stop you from over-working/under-working when working remotely.
As you start working remotely you may notice that the hours you work may vary, but you have to stick to them and not get distracted by your housework.
For example, it’s not acceptable to have an important phone call while out walking your dog. Although it sounds idyllic, it isn’t professional and there isn’t any way of you taking/sending notes easily if you need to. OR, it isn’t acceptable to watch TV when you know you have important reports to write, this is wasting time, so stick to your schedule and you won’t go wrong!
Scheduling is very important if you are working remotely on a permanent basis. Why? Because you may experience loads of tasks all at once, and some may not be your traditional tasks.
For example, a fellow employee may need support with tasks as they are also working remotely. You may have to block in some time to help them out. You could easily forget this because it’s not your ‘usual’ task.
Spending some time to schedule your day will do the world of good. At home remember you are your own manager, so nobody is going to be monitoring what you’re doing as much. To-do lists will become your buddies!
A good old schedule is good for your well being and it helps you to stay productive too. Without one you could be working on so many tasks at once, getting distracted by loads of things at home, and making errors!
4. Read up on the tools
When working remotely you’ll likely have to use tools that you would not have used before. So, with this in mind, it’s important to check out how these tools work before a meeting.
For example, some companies have online meet-ups. You need to plan what and when this meet-up will be, so you know what to do when they contact you. They may also use new boards to communicate tasks, so familiarize yourself with these too.
5. Don’t forget about breaks
Non-stop work may seem a great idea when working remotely, however, not having breaks reduces your productivity.
Take a break at your usual lunchtime and make sure you have something good and nutritional to eat. Ensure that you have enjoyable coffee breaks and snack times too, but it is also important not to overeat during the day just because you can.
Additionally, while having your lunch chit chat with your family and/or roommates. Get some interaction going on, so you don’t feel lonely when working remotely. Or should you prefer to be alone, go for a walk for 15 minutes, get some fresh air and a new perspective!
Learning about some productivity techniques and finding one that suits you best will help to prevent professional burnout.
Moving to the remote lifestyle can be interesting and fun to start off with, but it can end up in complete professional burnout.
To avoid this it’s important to keep to your typical routines.
What are these?
Well if you were going to work you would: wake up at a certain time, not miss meals, do some exercises, and choose clothes to wear to work.
Just because you’re home it doesn’t mean that you should stop doing these things. Keep doing them.
Why? Stopping these routines is going to send you into a lot of confusion, and you don’t want that.
For example, pajamas aren’t the best choice of workwear because your brain associates these with sleep and leisure time in front of the TV. If you work in your pajamas you will feel chilled, but you won’t want to work because the clothes don’t represent ‘work’.
You may find sticking to routines silly, useless, and unnecessary, but it really helps your brain to get the ‘signals’ it needs to get you up and ready for work. Maintaining routines will help you to concentrate faster, and to get you used to the new reality.
Remote work is not for everyone, but some individuals may have been placed in this situation because of current events. While remote work sounds fun, it is a lot of work. And it requires discipline and effort.
The points above are guides to help you on your journey! If followed well you will start to like working from home, and if you like it already you will love it in the end.
One last thing, every person who works remotely is responsible for the work they do, and their own well-being as well. Changes may not always be pleasant, but you shouldn’t become your own worst enemy. Don’t let work become messy over time, follow the set plans and routines, and set clear boundaries between your personal and professional lives.