Be Effective While Working Remotely
5 Tips to Make Your Home as Productive as the Office
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or this is your first time working from home for longer than a few days, all of us can struggle at times with staying on task and truly being productive while working remotely.
To help, we’ve compiled our five favorite tips for working remotely.
Tip #1: Create a Dedicated Workspace
Working from home for a day or two can be a nice relief from the office – especially if you have a laptop which can allow you to stay in bed, sit on the couch, or go outside and keep working at the same time.
While this sounds great, practicing these behaviors while working from home for an extended period can create bad habits that lead to lower productivity and a lack of engagement in your work.
To mitigate this problem, set up a dedicated space where you will work every day during your normal hours. Your workspace should be free from distractions, quiet enough for you to take calls or focus your attention, and have some sort of barrier between you and distractions (whether that is an overzealous pet, kids, the TV, or anything else that beckons for your attention).
One important thing to remember about creating a workspace at home – especially if that home is shared with others during your business hours – is to set rules for interaction. Whether that is keeping a door closed, requiring someone to knock before entering, or that there can be no interactions before a certain time of the day, these rules help create boundaries in your workspace so you can be effective and stay engaged.
Tip #2: Keep Your Routine
Much like the siren’s song of the TV or couch for your workspace, it is easy to wake up late, roll out of bed and find yourself going to sleep in the same thing you’ve been wearing for days in a row when you’re new at working from home.
The most effective remote workers keep their routines and don’t let ease be a reason to lower their standards. If you work out in the mornings, make sure you keep that schedule, take a shower, brush your hair, put on clothes that are acceptable should you have to take a video call.
While you don’t have to sit in your workspace wearing a dress or three-piece suit (unless that helps you focus and stay effective), getting out of your PJs, making yourself presentable, and keeping your normal schedule will keep your mind sharp and in ‘work mode’ while making you feel productive from the get-go.
Tip #3: Set Goals and Communicate
Interactions with your boss or colleagues can make it easy to know what needs to be done on a daily basis. Working remotely makes communication more difficult and it can take a lot of extra effort to know where things stand with your team or associates.
To stay effective while working from home, first it is important to set goals – not only for yourself – but for your team. Know what your goals are for the week and break them up into daily tasks that can help you measure your productivity and have something ‘deliverable’ that you can provide to your team. Not only will this help keep work moving quickly, it will help bridge the ‘trust’ gap that can appear when people work from home.
If you set goals, communicate actively with your colleagues, and meet your deadlines, not only will you be able to be an effective remote worker, but you will help your employer see that they can trust you to get your job done – even when you aren’t in the office.
Tip #4: Social and Stay Engaged
Piggy-backing off of the previous section, while working from home it is important to stay in touch with your colleagues socially as well as professionally. Being face-to-face creates lots of time to share stories, laugh, and enjoy an atmosphere and culture of ‘togetherness’. While this is difficult to maintain while working remotely, the good news is, it does not have to disappear.
Make sure to communicate consistently with your teams and to make communication fun whenever possible. Use GIFs or video clips while chatting, keep your cameras on during calls so you can see each other, or even video chat during lunch with your work friends.
Technology can help us feel like we are still right next to each other, even if we are miles away. So, while you may not be in the office, keep the office culture going and make things fun while you’re at home. Not only will this help you stay engaged while at work, but it can help fight off some of the isolation some of the more socially adept among us might feel while working remotely.
Tip #5: Schedule Breaks and Take Them in their Entirety
One odd thing we’ve experienced when working from home is the feeling of being overworked compared to when we are in the office. The separation between your work and your home can provide a much needed mental barrier between stressful work and a relaxing home environment. Not only is this why we feel Tip #1 is extremely important but why scheduling and taking breaks throughout the day is essential to staying effectively while working remotely.
Working from home can create a sense of ‘untrustworthiness’ if you don’t respond to a chat quickly or if you are a few minutes late to a meeting – you may have even wondered this about your colleagues and don’t want this perception to fall on you as well. That kind of pressure can be draining on anyone and create a feeling of needing to be hyper-vigilant.
To help, schedule coffee and lunch breaks for yourself just like you would in the office and make sure you take them. Get out of the house, or at least away from your work area, during those times and make sure you relax. Just remember that it is extremely important to communicate with your team both when you are taking a break and when you are back.
If you’ve started working from home recently, we hope the transition has been an easy one. If not, hopefully these tips help until you can get back in the office.
Remember to keep your routines, set up a dedicated workspace, and to communicate consistently with your colleagues. While it may sound easy to do these things – as we have found out for ourselves – it is much harder to put into practice than you might think.
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