It can be challenging to stay productive within a remote work culture.
Team building is more difficult, making day-to-day collaborations more complicated. Scheduling meetings is tough because people are in multiple time zones. It's easier to get distracted. And many other work-related obstacles threaten your effectiveness, ranging from a poor workspace to technical difficulties.
Fortunately, there are ways to stay productive. If you're looking to maximize your time and energy, here are 7 tips for working remotely.
1. Be Proactive With Your Communication
Remote workers need to over-communicate with their coworkers and supervisors. It's easy for your work to go unnoticed and cause potential bottlenecks.
Over time, this delays your effectiveness and efficiency.
There are a few key ways to manage this:
- Utilize video conferencing: If you can, set up regular check-ins with your team via video conferencing. This will help you improve communication and feel more connected to your colleagues.
- Keep an open chat: Use an instant messaging platform–like Slack or Discord–so you can quickly communicate without having to send an email or jump on a conference call.
- Give daily updates: Every day, send a message to your direct supervisor or team with an update on what you've accomplished. This will help everyone stay on the same page, leave room for feedback, and give you a sense of accountability.
Consistent communication with other remote team members ensures that you're always in the loop and your work is on track.
2. Design a Dedicated Workspace
When you work from home, it's important to create a workspace and manage expectations with the people in your environment.
This includes setting ground rules with family members, roommates, and pets. Either communicate expectations or create boundaries in your environment. Let them know when you're busy, when you're available to chat, and a protocol for emergency situations. For instance, you could put up a sign that says "Do Not Disturb" when you're in a virtual meeting. But they can barge in if the house is on fire.
You might also want to consider working in a separate room. This way, everyone knows that when you're in that space, you're working. If it's impossible to work at home, consider co-working spaces or coffee shops.
By proactively designing your workspace and creating boundaries in your environment, you'll minimize distractions and improve focus.
3. Set a Schedule—and Stick to It
Working from home can be great—no commute, no need to dress up, and the ability to design your own schedule. But with great flexibility comes great responsibility.
It can be tempting to start working at odd hours or accept extra assignments during your personal time. But if you want to maintain sanity and productivity, it's important to be disciplined with your schedule.
One of the best ways to stay productive as a remote worker is to set a daily schedule—and stick to it.
Your daily routine will vary depending on your lifestyle preferences and work environment. But be sure to include the following:
- Morning prep routine: Start your day in a proactive state and prime yourself for success. Do activities that energize you and get you ready for the day. This could involve working out, journaling, or meditating.
- Dedicate time for deep work: Your success requires intense focus on your most challenging tasks. Set time aside to focus on your most demanding task without any distractions. When possible, try to block off two to three hours each day for deep work.
- Have a definitive finishing time: Create a plan for when you'll completely unplug from work. If you're not deliberate about doing this, you can become lazy and unreliable, or overwork yourself and burn out.
By creating routines, you'll help yourself feel more grounded and focused.
4. Get More Human Connection
Human connection is energizing and influences how you show up to work.
Being disconnected from others will leave you apathetic and unmotivated to anything, including work. And as a remote worker, it's easy to feel isolated.
The best way to overcome this is to start connecting with others. There are a few different ways you can do this:
- If your company offers remote social events, make sure to join in! This can be anything from a remote happy hour to an online trivia night. If your company doesn't offer remote social events, you can socialize with colleagues by arranging virtual coffee chats and connecting with them on social media.
- You can also join remote communities and forums related to your industry. This is a great way to network and connect with other remote workers.
- And, of course, spend time with friends and loved ones.
Getting more human connections will recharge you and motivate you to get stuff done.
5. Don't Be Afraid To Ask What You Need
By asking for help, you'll ensure that you have the resources and support you need to be productive.
This might seem like a no-brainer. But as a remote worker, you might not have quick access to your supervisor or colleagues. And without instant feedback, you may struggle to meet deadlines, finish an important task, or overcome unique challenges.
If you need help, don't be afraid to reach out and ask for it.
Take advantage of virtual meetings. Learn how to navigate your team dynamics—for instance, are your direct supervisors available in the mornings or afternoons? Make sure to clarify expectations if you're falling behind on deadlines, or if you're unclear about the scope of a task.
6. Take Breaks and Unplug
When working remotely, it's easy to get caught up in your work and lose track of time.
You might find yourself working through your lunch break or forgetting to take breaks. While it's important to be focused and productive, it's also important to rest and unplug. This could mean taking a walk around the block, reading a book, or doing an afternoon yoga class. It's important to find activities that remove you from the computer screen and rejuvenate you.
By taking breaks and unplugging, you'll help prevent burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
7. Invest in the Right Tools
There are a lot of different tools available to remote workers.
Of course, your specific needs will vary depending on your industry and job. But there are a few essential tools that every remote worker should have:
- Ergonomic office chair: This will improve posture and reduce back pain.. This is essential to every remote worker, as you're sitting down for a large chunk of your day.
- Project management software: This will help you keep track of deadlines, assigned tasks, and progress reports. Asana and ClickUp are two popular options. But if you don't collaborate with a large team, use a simple task manager.
- Remote communication tools: This is anything work-related that helps you stay in touch with your work network—hosting conference calls, instant messaging, or scheduling meetings.
By investing in the right tools, you can create a productive work environment that meets your specific needs.
Next Steps: Be Intentional About Your Time
Remote working is here to stay. And as more companies adopt remote work policies, it's important to be intentional about your time.
By following the tips above, you can set yourself up for success.
Do you ever travel as a remote worker? If so, check out our article: 7 Tips for Working Away From Home.