Remote work is becoming increasingly popular. According to the State of the Remote Job Marketplace report from FlexJobs, 3.9 million US employees, or 2.9% of the total US workforce, work from home at least half of the time. Experts predict that in the next 10 years, this number will grow to more than one third of the US workforce.
The Owl Labs Global State of Remote Work reports that employees who work remotely at least once a month are 24% happier than those who never work remotely. As a remote worker, you enjoy a lot more freedom than some of your office-bound colleagues.
Nevertheless, remote working is not for everyone. That same newfound freedom is tough for some employees to adjust to. Since you are essentially in charge of your own workday, you need to be more organized, disciplined, and self-motivated than a regular office worker.
I have spent the last year working remotely 100% of the time, so I've come across all kinds of tips and tricks that help me to maximize the experience and deal with the downsides of working from home. Here you have my seven recommendations for effective remote work:
1. Have a designated space to do your work
It's very important to have a designated workspace for a few reasons. It should preferably be in a separate room, but, if space is limited, having a specific desk or table that's only used for work can do the job. Separating personal and business space can help you get into a better mindset for getting work done efficiently – when you go to that designated area, you know it's time to work. It will also allow you to spread out your work materials without having to clear it out every time you're going to have a meal, just to put it back together again.
2. Figure out your working style
At the start of your remote work experience, it's a fantastic idea to figure out what kind of remote worker you are so you can maximize all those things that make you more productive. One of the details you should figure out first is what kind of environment works better for you, the beauty of remote working is that you don't have to be necessarily be home-bound. Do you need to be in contact with other human beings, even if it's in a background, white-noise kind of way? A café or a library could be the best option for you. Or maybe you need to be in complete silence to work, in that case, investing in noise-cancelling headphones might be a good idea.
3. Determine your peak work hour
Some companies allow flexible work schedule as well as the remote work, so it's also critical to determine which are your most productive hours. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Do you feel more alert in the mornings or the evenings? Do you prefer to concentrate and work for a long-ish period of time at a time, or do you feel more productive when you take small breaks thorough the day? These kinds of questions can help you get the most out of your day. For example, I'm a morning person, so I prefer working early in the morning and immediately after lunch. I do the more taxing tasks during these periods and save the less demanding stuff for later in the day when I feel more mentally fatigued.
4. Make a schedule
It's also important to give yourself some structure, so making a schedule for the week/day is crucial. Once again, you just need to figure out what works better for you. I don't deal directly with clients, so I can mostly organize my week on Mondays and leave some empty space for unexpected work. Other people choose to organize hour by hour schedules and go day by day. Do whatever works for you, but I strongly recommend you also schedule breaks. Since you will be likely having less distractions when working remotely, you can end up sitting on your chair for really long periods of time. Avoiding being too sedentary is a good idea. I use an app that reminds me that I should get up and move around a little every hour – there are many of them out there, for any kind of device. It doesn't have to be a long time, just a trip to the restroom or the kitchen, or doing some stretches is good enough! I will admit I sometimes skip it if I'm too focused on something, but remember to try to get up and clear your mind every once in a while.
5. Communicate with colleagues often
Consistent and clear communication is going to be key for your remote work success. Obviously, you don't need to be talking to your coworkers all day long, but knowing that everyone has a common tool to ask questions, discuss, and post notes is crucial. There are many communications tools out there, but our favorite is intra.work. intra.work a social intranet and extranet web and mobile platform combining collaboration and project management tools that is simple, transparent, safe and GDPR-compliant. It's very easy to use and the communication is well-organized in all the different public and private groups. It also makes it easy for others to see our progress and agreed-upon tasks, thanks to the project management side of the tool.
6. Determine the end of your work day
Working too much is a common issue when you work remotely. You might feel the nagging urge to check your email constantly through the evening, which can accidentally set the (wrong) standard that you are available 24/7. In this connected world, it's easy to be bombarded with work notifications all day long (especially if you have co-workers in different time zones), which is why it's so important to have a clear idea of when your workday is supposed to end. Close your office door or simply put your computer out of sight and don't indulge into checking your notifications too often.
7. Treat yourself
Like I just mentioned, when the line between "work" and "home" gets blurry, it's easy to find yourself stuck to your chair for longer that you are supposed to. While that is sometimes necessary to finish important projects or reach deadlines, you should put your mental health first and avoid overworking when it's not strictly needed. Give yourself time to enjoy your free time. Eat healthy meals, commit to a workout routine, spend time with your friends, and enjoy your hobbies whenever you can. That won't only make you happier as an individual but also help you be more productive and focused when you have to be. It's easy to feel lonely when you're working alone all day, even if you are strongly introverted (like me), so it's also important to actively seek out social contact as often as you can.
Working from home or simply remotely can be a big adjustment and it carries several advantages and disadvantages, both for you and your colleagues. If you don't have the right amount of self-motivation and discipline it can go very wrong, but if you can make it work, it can be an excellent way to make it a win-win situation for you and your company. There's a whole world of efficiency to be gained from workers working remotely, as long as you follow certain best practices.
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