The ability to work remotely is one of the major perks of modern careers. We can work from the comfort of our own homes, from the cosy confines of the local café or co-working space, or basically anywhere that you find a plug socket and a WiFi connection.
If you’re part of this rapidly growing trend, the biggest challenges you might face are how to maintain your productivity, how to stay visible and relevant to your colleagues, and how to keep up a high standard of work. If you want to keep living the dream, here’s how to make remote work work for you!
Good communication is the bedrock of every good relationship, perhaps especially those conducted over long distance. The same principle applies to your work, and if you’re working separately from the rest of the company or team, it’s essential that you don’t slip completely out of sight during the day. Whether you’re communicating over email, or through an IM service like Slack, it’s important to keep tabs on others’ progress and to make meaningful contributions without letting it damage your productivity. Here are a few simple steps:
- Touch base in the morning, before you take your lunch break, and when you clock off for the evening.
- In the morning, send a synopsis of your plan for the day ahead, and what you achieved the day before.
- Ensure you’re on the same page as your colleagues at all times. If you’re not sure about something, ask questions – even stupid ones!
Keep Office Hours
You may not be physically at the office, but for the benefit of your own productivity it’s best to schedule your day as if you are. Sure, luxuriate in your lack of a commute by sleeping a little longer beca, but try to be at your desk at the same time everyday. You don’t have to keep 9-to-5 hours, but it’s a good idea to at least try to work around the same routine every week.
Dress for Success
While no one would begrudge you the occasional pyjama day, it’s hard to stay on the ball when you don’t feel prepared or awake. A big part of feeling good and performing well is to be dressed in a way that makes you feel great! Whether that’s comfy and slouchy, or preppy and preened, wear whatever works for you.
When you’re working at home, there’s just so much that can distract you. Make one cup of tea and suddenly you’ve re-alphabetised your bookcase, or spent time raiding your fridge and planning your shopping lists. That’s why scheduling is important, as it ensures that you respect your own time as much as you would anyone else’s. I’m not saying you should never stand up to make a pot of coffee – just don’t rearrange the spice rack while you’re at it. If your phone isn’t an essential part of your work, leave it in the next room and keep track of your time on your laptop clock. And again, unless it’s a crucial part of your work day, block social media on your laptop between certain hours. Create a space in your home where you can close the door, ignore the buzz of life around you, and get real work done.
Set Personal Deadlines
When you’re working remotely, you may have long-term deadlines for an entire project, but it’s a good idea to break down larger tasks to give yourself daily deadlines. That way, you keep a sense of accomplishment, and make big projects less intimidating. Be realistic and only assign what you know you can get through in a day. This way, you’ll finish the week with a sense of satisfaction that’s harder to achieve when you’re chipping away at a big task.
Learn to Prioritise
A lot of the time we spend at work, is actually spent doing ‘low-value’ tasks. To produce the best results, both for you and your boss, it’s important to prioritise what is most crucial. Every evening, write your list for the following day numbering the three most important tasks in order. In the morning, unless it’s absolutely essential, try to avoid checking your emails until you’ve made some headway on the first task. Stick with one until you complete it and then move on.
Create a Pleasant Workspace
Make a workspace that you don’t want to leave. Whatever you need to work at your most productive, make sure you have it to hand. Invest in good ergonomics to avoids twinges, and create a relaxing atmosphere that gives you an addictive feeling of focus. Make it a pleasure to arrive at your desk every day.
A few simple rules can ensure that your company registers the enormous contribution you make every day, that you keep your work at an excellent standard, and prevents your work from bleeding into your personal time. Any more tips? We’d love to hear them!