Remote work is a flexible, beneficial setup for employers and employees alike. Knowing the remote work best practices can help you make the most out of your work environment.
Remote workers need to ensure that they stay productive, as working from home can be distracting. Practicing good habits from the get-go is essential.
For this article, we’ve compiled our favorite tips for remote workers. If you’re on the lookout for ways to boost your productivity while you work from home – read on.
Remote work means that most communication takes place over virtual channels, such as Zoom or Slack. It is important that all team members are on the same page regarding which channels to use, and when.
When you work remotely, you can’t pop into a coworker’s office for a quick word. Physical distance can make communication hard. With remote work, deliberate communication is essential.
Regularly, consistently scheduled meetings can improve team communication. This is true for team meetings, one-on-one meetings, and managerial meetings. If employees are expected to schedule meetings only when they need to, you may find that team communication takes a dive.
There may be some days when there is more to discuss than on others, but simply chatting with team members goes a long way in building and maintaining strong connections and teamwork.
Working in an office generally means that you clock in at the start of the day, and clock out when you leave to go home. When you are working remotely, this might not be as straightforward.
You may not be forced to stop working at 5 pm as you do not need to go anywhere, or your manager might not think twice about giving you deadlines late in the day. In situations like these, you need boundaries. Not having these boundaries can lead to burnout and lots of overtime.
One good option is to shut off, or pause, all notifications at the official end of your day. Boundaries also help you to openly and honestly communicate with your managers. It is important that you are given the same downtime you would have with an in-office job!
Try not to neglect your usual lunch hour (this does not mean eating lunch at your desk). Also, take short breaks during the workday so that you get some time to rest and clear your mind.
Try to occupy your evenings with hobbies, self-care, and social time so that your brain gets a break from work.
Remote meetings might not seem as formal as in-person meetings, but they should be treated with the same respect and attention.
A key part of this is having your camera on. This keeps you accountable – you need to dress well, and stay engaged in the meeting. If your camera is off, it’s easy to get distracted and let your mind wander.
A good way to ensure focus during a meeting is to take notes as people are speaking. It is also helpful to go into a meeting with points you would like to discuss so that you don’t forget to mention them.
To be absolutely sure that you will focus during a meeting, offer to take notes and send them on to all participants. Accurate note-taking requires you to listen carefully to what everyone says and will hold you accountable.
When you are first introduced to a remote work setup, it is important to play around with different ways of working and various schedules. This way, you can ascertain what works best for you, and how to stay motivated.
This could mean sitting in a different spot each day or wearing comfortable clothes versus formal wear. You may try taking five-minute breaks every two hours, versus 30-minute breaks twice a day. It might take a while to figure out what is best for you, but once you do, you can work optimally.
You may also find that switching up the way you work every day, or every few days, might be the best way for you to work productively.
You can try to work outside of your home once or twice a week for a change of scenery. Think about a cafe, a local library, the house of a friend or family member, or outdoors.
It is also best to figure out at which parts of the day you are most productive, and then schedule your most demanding work during that time.
When working remotely, there is a risk of becoming somewhat hidden in the workplace. This can happen when you are not proactive – which can be harmful in the long run.
Working in an isolated environment forces you to make more of an effort in checking in with others. Use meetings to vocalize what you are working on, or to ask any questions that you may have.
In addition to this, you should try to schedule one-on-one meetings with colleagues to share your progress and ask for feedback.
Another small but effective method of making your presence felt is by responding to all emails as quickly as possible. Even just letting someone know that you have noted their email goes a long way.
There may be times when you feel that this form of proactive communication is bothersome to others. Rest assured that it creates a positive long-term impression of you as a dedicated and organized employee.
Working in an office has many upsides, but you may miss the social element.
Do not underestimate the ability to say hi to colleagues by the coffee machine, or have a quick chat at their desks. Once you move into the remote workspace, you may find that it can be quite lonely.
This means that it is important to make an effort to maintain a thriving social life outside of work.Even if you are someone who prefers alone time, socializing with others is important for social skills, and mental health.
Schedule one or two evenings during the week to go out with friends. It’s a good idea to get some social hobbies, such as book clubs or fitness classes. If you live near some work colleagues, you can even meet up with them. Who says that after-work drinks need only apply to office-based employees?
If you want to build those after-hours bonds with team members, you can do so even if they are located far away. Catch up with a virtual hangout on Zoom or other private video call platforms in the evenings.
On weekends, try not to continue the house-based week. Go out, spend time with others, and try new things that do not center around work.
When working in a team, it is easy to keep track of who is doing what in the office space.
In a remote setup, you may go off and complete tasks in isolation. You might regroup to find that there are misunderstandings about what should have been done.
To avoid this in a remote setting, it is important to plan and communicate what is expected of each employee, as well as who is responsible for what duties.
Ensure that you are clear on what you need to do for a specific task or project. If you are not, set up a meeting with your manager to talk it through until you are.
Have regular check-in meetings with the rest of the team to ensure that everyone is on the right track, and is fulfilling their duties.
While it is possible to operate fully remotely, there is value in having face-to-face meetings on occasion.
If everyone is located in the same region, you can have weekly or monthly team meetings.
These can be work catch-ups or social events for team bonding.
For the whole company, in larger departments, or where employees may not all live in the same area, it can be tricky to meet. Events like conferences are good ways to get the whole team together.
On an individual basis, try to meet up with colleagues after work for social activities and networking. These connections lead to a more harmonious working environment, improved teamwork, and increased productivity.
When working from home, it might be tempting to work from the couch or your bed. It may even be convenient to work from a dining room table or kitchen counter.
While this may work for some – in most cases, it does not allow for optimal productivity. This is because you won’t be in proper ‘work mode’.
Establishing a specific area of your home as your office space is the best way to ensure that you can switch into a work zone when the day begins.
If you have a larger home, this might be a specific room that you can use as a study. But for smaller homes, adding a small desk to a designated spot works just as well.
Invest in a good quality desk and a comfortable chair. Add personal touches to your workspace such as plants, pictures, a fan/heater, a music system, stationery, books, etc.
Try to set up your workspace in natural light. Sunlight can be energizing and can help with focus.
In the office, it is easier to keep track of deadlines and important meeting dates. There will generally be discussions around these, or a colleague might remind you. In a remote workspace, you’re left to your own devices.
Keep a day planner or calendar on your desk, and promptly make notes of any important dates or deadlines as they are established. Check in with your planner daily so that you are continually reminded of these. You can use your planner as guidance to ensure that you are efficiently working toward your deadlines.
A planner is also helpful when scheduling leave periods, holidays, and other out-of-office activities. Good planning allows you to maintain a work-life balance, as you can schedule work and social activities in the same place.
Working from home all day can result in you losing track of the time, and even what day of the week it is, as your environment remains unchanged.
To make sure that you are meeting deadlines and staying on track with tasks and meetings, compile to-do lists for each day so that you can tick off things as you complete them.
It helps to put these together on Monday, so you can have your entire week planned out well. Remember to slot in a few breaks, and a lunch hour each day, to prevent overworking and burnout.
Aside from getting work done, being able to physically tick off completed tasks will keep you motivated and boost your sense of accomplishment.
Your overall well-being is important, not just your work productivity. Keeping up phsycial and mental health is good for you in general, and it can improve your work life.
Skipping the daily commute and working from home means that you may not get as much physical activity as you would if you were going to the office every day.
Make up for this by incorporating some movement into your day. Go to the gym, take an online fitness class, or go for a walk. These can be done in the morning, during a break or lunch hour, or after you finish work.
It is also key to eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch during the day, as this keeps your energy up and your mind focused. Not needing to commute gives you more time for a good breakfast before starting work. It also means you’ll have more time and energy available to cook a hearty dinner once you are done. This eliminates the need for takeout and unhealthy options.
You should incorporate other healthy habits into your day -meditation, stretching, journaling, leisure reading, and so on. This exercises the body and the mind and improves physical and mental health.
These remote work best practices can help you make the most of your flexible work environment. If you’re looking to boost your remote work-life balance, consider implementing some of these practices into your day.
Setting boundaries, working on communication, and keeping organized can help you improve your work performance. If you’re happy at work, you will be a more effective member of the team – self-care is essential.
Remote work can be isolating. So remember to schedule a decent amount of social time! It may take a while to settle into a good remote working groove. Have patience, try different work styles, and you’ll soon find how to optimize your working hours.