How to Work Remotely: 10 Ways to Boost Productivity
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 on a daily basis.
But not everyone falls into this category. For some, remote work can be 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. We’ve put together this guide with the ten most important tips for working remotely to help you do great work no matter where you are.
1. Overcommunicate With Colleagues
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 – without proper communication, that trust breaks down.
Here’s how you can keep up effective communication while working remotely:
- Set a regular time to check in throughout the day.
- Don’t hesitate to schedule a video call (cameras on) to discuss things when email and chat don’t cut it.
- If you need to step away from your computer now and then (which we all do), drop a note in your team chat to let them know you’re taking a break and when you’ll be back online.
- If you need some help or support to be more effective, let your manager know. On that same note, reach out to your teammates to see if there’s any way you can help them while remote.
When working from home, it’s easy for people to withdraw into their own workloads 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 often.
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. 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:
- Wake up on time, giving yourself enough time to get ready in the morning before the workday starts.
- You don’t have to put on a blouse or tie but doing the basics like showering, brushing your teeth and getting dressed at a regular time can set you up for the day.
- Start the workday by deciding what you want to focus on that day. You can use a traditional to-do list or something more sophisticated like project tracking software.
- Organize your calendar so it includes all your meetings and appointments. You can block out time for focused work as well as breaktime activities like walking your dog or doing the laundry.
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, you may feel pressure to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of your day. 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. Here are some self-care tips for working remotely:
- Schedule regular breaks to stand, move around and get away from your computer. Breaks can help you recharge and refocus, making you more effective in your work.
- Exercise and get outside regularly. Even a simple walk around the block can do wonders for your health both physically and mentally.
- Practice mindfulness to lower stress and build your focus. This can be especially helpful in turbulent times while you’re adjusting to new circumstances like working remotely.
- Be patient with yourself as you transition to working from home. Instead of focusing on how much you accomplish each day, ask yourself how you contributed. Not everything of value ends up on a to-do list.
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 prevent burnout that can come with stress and other challenges.
4. Create a Focused Environment
Maybe your home office is 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:
- Designate a workspace for yourself, however small, where only work takes place. It can be one side of the kitchen table, or a lap desk and the sofa. The important thing is to set clear boundaries for yourself and others: when you’re there, you’re working.
- Communicate with others in your home to let them know you need focus time.
- Make sure your space is clean with minimal distractions – the housework can wait.
- Schedule uninterrupted focus time. Set aside time to put your devices on mute (informing your team first, of course) and work without interruptions.
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. Just make sure your cushion fort is nice and sturdy.
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:
- Use a standing desk or standing desk converter to get your blood flowing and relieve the strain of sitting all day.
- A comfortable chair can make or break your work-from-home experience. If you’re limited on budget or space, a seat cushion and back pad can also help.
- Try an egg timer to help you focus for stretches of time. You can also use a timer on your computer or phone if it won’t be too distracting.
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.
6. Discover Your Work Style
Before figuring out how to work remotely, you need to figure out how to work. How do you approach problems, collaborative working and prioritization? Learning these key things about your work style can have a big impact on your efficiency when working remotely.
You might work differently at home than you do in the office – make sure you factor this in when you’re planning your time on your remote working days. Whatever tasks you prefer to do with the help of your colleagues might be better suited to a day you’re in the office, if you’re a hybrid worker.
Whether you’re a long-term planner, a solo artiste or a big-time brainstormer, make sure that your remote working set-up is equipped for your preferred style.
7. Get the Right Equipment
When it comes to remote work tips, few are more important than making sure that you have everything you need for adequate at-home working. Luckily, a lot of employers will provide you with the essentials such as a laptop and IT equipment, but there are plenty of other things you may need to create a comfortable and productive remote workplace.
For example, you need Wi-Fi that suits your needs. If your job requires constant Internet access and involves a lot of digital media, you don’t want to be slowed down. Another consideration could be noise-canceling headphones with an effective mic – to drown out distractions and facilitate video calls.
Whether it’s a second monitor or an ergonomic keyboard, having the right equipment can make remote working a far more comfortable experience.
8. Log Off
It’s great being connected and having the option to work from home but it can be easy to let the lines between personal life and work life get blurry. When figuring out how to work remotely effectively, you need to make sure that you’re maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
If you haven’t completed a task before the end of the day, don’t feel compelled to work into the small hours just because you don’t have a train to catch. Yes, emails are still flooding in after 6pm but that doesn’t mean they can’t wait until the morning.
You need downtime – don’t be afraid to stick to your regular working hours and log off when you’ve done all you need to do. The more you push yourself, the more your work (and your colleagues) will suffer.
9. Socialize With Colleagues
Sometimes it can feel a bit isolating working from home. This doesn’t have to be the case. Whether you’re living alone, with housemates or with family, it’s important to socialize and keep yourself connected to your network.
Not only this, but it can be helpful to connect with your colleagues on a personal level as well as professionally. Even when working remotely, you can still enjoy the usual office chit-chat on your instant messaging service or email. Why not schedule weekly video calls with your team just to check in?
Talking about your day, your weekend, or anything other than the task at hand can be a great way to stay alert and motivated, as well as nurture those connections with your teammates.
10. Enjoy the Perks of Remote Work
Last but not least – don’t forget to enjoy the perks of working remotely! Remote work tips are great to bear in mind to perfect your routine but working from home also comes with plenty of flexibility.
If your company allows, you can even take your remote work on the road. See the world and earn money without the hassle of changing jobs. Remote working can enable you to work in other countries for short spells – from Belgium to Bolivia.
Plus, with no commute in your planner, you have plenty more time for yourself! Morning and evening plans are suddenly far more possible.
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 the rest of your career, you’ll be able to do your best.
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