Whether you have a job designed for remote workers, or unprecedented circumstances arise that require you to start working from home, there are certain challenges that come with the territory. But fear not; these five simple tips will help you make remote working a success.
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1. Set up a comfortable home office to work remotely
Productivity flourishes in healthy environments where you can concentrate with minimal distractions and clutter. With this in mind, your first step to successful remote working is to set up an organized and comfortable workspace. This should ideally be in a quiet area of your home; somewhere that allows you to escape the distractions of everyday life and stimulate productivity.
One of the benefits of working in your own home is incorporating your own personal style into your workspace. This might mean putting any personal keepsakes or photos on your desk that make you feel motivated and happy. It could mean displaying a pot plant or two to help brighten up the area and help you feel calm. Whatever your style, it is important to choose a location that allows you to optimize natural light. That way, you can feel energized and avoid feeling sluggish.
2. Minimize distractions (sorry, cat!)
Distractions from children, pets, and background noise can hamper your productivity while doing remote work. That can lead to frustration in the workspace. As much as we love spending more time with our loved ones – and overly affectionate cats – interruptions can be stressful. This is particularly true when trying to participate in a conference call from home or working on important documents.
For these reasons, it is essential to set some basic ground rules with those around you in the home. This means ensuring that family members respect your privacy and stay out of your office; especially when you are taking calls. As a compromise, you could set aside a specific time to spend with family and enjoy a deserved break.
3. Use efficient workflow and task management tools
Ensuring that you and your colleagues have efficient workflow and task management tools in place is key to successful remote working. Web and mobile applications such as Asana are great at helping teams organize, track, and manage their work. However, there are many alternatives on the market too, many of which are free. Workzone, Trello, and Jira are just some of the options that offer different features that might be useful to your team.
Another form of best practice used by distributed virtual teams is chartering. This is essentially a well-constructed written document that all team members agree on which lays down the ground rules for the group’s collaboration. This can significantly improve collaboration within a team and avoid any hiccups along the way.
4. Maintain clear communication with your colleagues
While working remotely can bring about many benefits, on the flip side, it can lead to feelings of loneliness or isolation. Remote workers often express how they miss having interaction with workmates and a healthy dose of office banter. This is especially the case if you are working from home, alone, with no company to keep.
Fortunately though, thanks to modern technology, there are many effective ways to stay in touch and maintain good communication within a distributed team. Video conferencing, messaging apps, and mobile communication apps will help you stay connected and maintain a sense of camaraderie. They will also facilitate project management and ensure that targets and deadlines are on track. Just make sure you have a good Wi-Fi connection. After all, you don’t want to go freezing on your colleagues midway through a sentence.
5. Know when to log off when you work remotely
When working outside the confines of an office and the conventional nine-to-five daily structure, it can be easy to lose track of time and let work spill over into your personal time. In fact, many people find this to be the greatest challenge when it comes to working remotely; especially in the beginning. After all, with technology allowing us to stay connected 24/7 via e-mail or chat notifications, we have to make a conscious effort to switch off.
Again, boundaries are key here and one way to maintain them is to set a time every day when you officially log off. On the flip side, however, working remotely grants you the flexibility to work when you are most productive. Just remember to monitor your hours and let your colleagues know when they can contact you and when you’re calling it a day.