5 Essential Tips for Working Remotely

Some people are work-from-home champions. For them, working from home means fewer distractions, more flexibility, and greater productivity. They have the perfect home-office setup, they stick to a careful routine, and they crank out high-quality work day in and day out. But not everyone falls into this category. For some, remote work can be quite a challenge, full of countless distractions, grueling hours, and high stress.

If you are in this second category, don’t worry—you aren’t alone, especially as so many employees are now being asked to work from home for the first time. We’ve put together this guide with the five most important tips for working remotely to help you do great work no matter where you are.

#1 Overcommunicate

When team members and managers can’t see each other sitting at their desks hard at work, it’s dangerously easy to assume the worst: “Why didn’t they answer my chat message?” “Are they even working right now?” “Working from home doesn’t mean vacation time.”

Trust is imperative for remote teams to work well together, and without proper communication, that trust breaks down. Here’s how you can keep up effective communication while working remotely:

One of the best quotes about communication is from writer George Bernard Shaw: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” When working from home, it’s easy for people to withdraw into their own silos and assume everyone is on the same page—only to discover that’s not the case at all. Both employees and managers can help their teams (and themselves) become better remote workers by communicating early and often.

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#2 Develop a Routine

When you work from home, your commute time shrinks to zero, your housemates become your officemates, and your breakroom is your kitchen. Because of the convenience of working from home, it’s tempting to slide out of your normal routine and stop waking up early or changing out of your pajamas. Don’t give in!

You may not be able to stick to your old routine exactly as it was, but you should still structure your day. Here’s how you can do that while working from home:

You don’t have to map out every minute of every day to be an effective remote worker, but it helps to establish a clear, consistent routine. Not only can this make you more productive, but it also helps those living with you (like kids and significant others) know when you’re available and when they need to let you focus.

#3 Take Care of Yourself

While you’re working from home, especially in emergency situations like a pandemic, you may feel pressure to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of your day. And many of us measure our productivity by how many tasks we check off our to-do lists. When things are left undone at the end of the day, we feel guilty, like we should be doing more.

That may not be the best approach, particularly if you’re still transitioning to remote work and settling into a new way of doing things. Often, slowing down and taking time for yourself are the keys to unlocking greater productivity. Here are some self-care tips for working remotely:

Doing the basics to take care of yourself will make you a healthier, happier, and more effective worker whether you’re in an office or at home. Not only will you be more productive, but you’ll also avoid burning out over time despite stress and other challenges.

#4 Create the Right Environment

If you’ve never worked from home before, or if you only do it occasionally, you probably don’t have an ideal home-office setup. Maybe your “home office” is actually the kitchen table or a desk in your unfinished basement. When you don’t have a proper workspace, it can be tricky to focus on your work. Here are some strategies for creating the best home-office setup for productivity without remodeling the house:

If you have the budget and space, it’s certainly worth investing in a more permanent home office. However, even without an immaculate home office, you can be productive and focused while working remotely if you set the right boundaries.

#5 Use the Right Tools

The previous tips for creating the right environment become even easier if you have the right tools for working remotely. There are numerous resources, both online and offline, you can use to set yourself up for success while working at home, but these are a few of our favorites:

These are just a few tools you can use at home to help work effectively, but there are plenty more online. And at an organizational level, your company can invest in additional tools like a chat platform or project management software to keep everyone connected while working remotely.

Conclusion

Learning to work from home effectively is tricky for anyone, let alone employees who have been asked to do so suddenly and unexpectedly. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the unique challenges of remote work, cut yourself some slack. You don’t have to perfect these five areas right away. Instead, focus on what you can do today to improve step by step while working from home. Wake up 30 minutes earlier and go on a walk. Make a list of priorities at the start of your day. Choose one thing to buy to improve your home workspace.

As you take it one day at a time and use the tips in this guide, you can transform your work-from-home experience. Whether you’re working remotely for only a few weeks or for the rest of your career, you’ll be able to do your best.