A Starter Pack for Remote Workers

The traditional workplace is an ever-changing entity. As a result, many once office-bound employees are now finding freedom in the option to work remotely. To help align with this influx, we assembled 8 tips that act as a starter pack for remote workers. Whether you’re new to the experience or a seasoned pro, these tips are for you.

There’s a common misconception that working remotely puts you at a big disadvantage when it comes to career advancement.  Some people feel this is a result of a lack of traditional value signaling. There’s no “face time” with the C-suite, no after-work happy hour to build team connections, no extra points for showing up early and staying late.

But what the naysayers overlook are the unique benefits working remotely presents for making big moves in your career. When you’re in charge of your own schedule, you tend to have more time and energy to invest in learning new skills. For many, building your personal brand becomes necessary which can be very valuable to long term career growth. 

As can new client developments from working outside the same daily office crowd.  Many who opt-in for coworking memberships report exponential new client growth from interactions with other members. Which ultimately helped them move up the career ladder within their current company.

 And for parents with small children or people living outside of big urban centers, remote work may be one of the only ways to build the career they want and have the balance of home life.

Adjusting to the Process

The newfound freedom is tough for some employees to adjust to. Since companies rarely explain effective ways to work remotely, we’ve put together a few recommendations that can help with the adjustment process.

1. Find a workspace

Have a designated space to do your work. Turn a spare room into an office. If space is limited at home, find a coworking space or a shared office environment. A designated workspace matters for a few reasons.

First, you’ll have room to spread out your work materials — such as papers, books, and reports — and leave them out the entire day. This beats working at the kitchen table where you have to clean up your materials for lunch; get everything out to work in the afternoon; and clear everything away for dinner. 

Second, a dedicated workspace can help your motivation. When you go to this designated space, you know that it’s time to get work done.

2. Invest in work materials

Some companies purchase equipment, from monitors to paper and pens, for their employees so they’re set up for remote work success. Others leave it up to the employee to purchase any needed extras.

Having the right materials, whether or not you buy them, is well worth it. Investing in a few supplies is a relatively minimal cost to do great work and maintain the autonomy working remotely offers.

3. Make a schedule

Give your day some structure and make a schedule for the day ahead. Organizing your day in a planner allows you to focus on stay accountable. 

Pro-Tip: Schedule breaks. For example, after writing an article for two hours, take a 15-minute break. Taking breaks is an important part of managing your energy throughout the day. Additionally, leaving your home or apartment for a bit and taking a walk is a great way to boost your energy levels for the productive afternoon ahead.

4. Communicate with Colleagues

Generally, you’ll find yourself working in large chunks of uninterrupted time. However, that’s not to say your heading for the hermit life! Prioritize communicating with colleagues. This is an important task when you’re working remotely and will be invaluable during the months and years of remote work successes ahead.

Oftentimes, it is helpful to check digital communication tools at designated times during my day. Emails, social media, and Slack, for example, can be distracting to the overall workflow when running at all times throughout the day. Some people set up an automatic response on their email, alerting colleagues when they should expect a response. And still others, like managers, may find it helpful to tell team members in advance when they’re available to talk or respond to emails.

5. Have designated work clothes

Separate work from play with the clothes you wear, recommends Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, in his book Remote: Office Not Required. Maybe you have a handful of “work” t-shirts, which are different from the t-shirts you wear when you’re relaxing on a Saturday afternoon or in the evenings. Having designated “work from home” clothes can get you into the right frame of mind, as Fried suggests.

6. Reduce Distractions

One of the benefits of working from home is escaping workplace distractions that are imposed on you. So don’t inundate yourself with “home” distractions, like turning on TV and scrolling through newsfeeds on Facebook. 

Why? It’s because multitasking doesn’t work. 

Switching between tasks can result in as much as a 40% loss of productivity, according to Dr. David Meyer in an American Psychological Association article.

7. Define the End of Your Workday

A common challenge is working too much when you’re working remotely. You see your computer nearby, and you have a nagging urge to check your email constantly throughout the evening.

That’s why it’s important to determine in advance when you’re workday will end. Include this in your daily plan discussed above. Then, close your laptop and place it in your bookbag or close your office door so your computer is out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind.

8. Use your peak hours effectively

Some companies allow you to work where you want (remote working) and when you want (flexible work schedule). If your company offers a flexible work schedule, then it’s critical to determine your peak work periods. Do you work best first thing in the morning? Are you more alert around lunchtime?

The answer to such questions can help you determine your peak work periods. Prioritize your important tasks for the times when you are most productive.  Morning person? Get up and hit the toughest task for the day. Late starter? Tackle the uphill project after lunch. 

It’s good practice to save the less-important stuff for when you’re mentally fatigued. Knowing when you work best can help you get the most out of your day.

More companies should explain how employees can be effective when working remotely. Until then, try out the above suggestions and see what works best for you.

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