Many job seekers today look for the phrase “remote-friendly” in a job post before applying. Yes, the perks of working remotely are too good to ignore.
Setting your own flexible time. Working from your favorite location. The absence of office politics. But the grass may not always look greener.
Truth is, remote working can be daunting to even the most motivated remote worker. There will be days you don’t want to log into your team’s project management dashboard. Sometimes, you may feel like quitting. These are things you can overcome if you set your mind to it.
Thankfully, we’ve gathered 10 effective tips to help you stay productive as a remote worker. The first part deals with being productive as a remote worker and will cover:
- Your remote office – comfortable but productive
- Investment in the right working gear
- Working time – for productivity and work/life balance
- Take regular breaks to refresh your mind
- Document your workflow for consistent productivity
- Plan ahead – week/month
Since you’re not an island, we’ll also walk you through how to stay in touch with the entire team through:
- Connecting the team’s goals with yours
- Communicating your progress
- Making your work or tasks challenges known to the team
- Embracing an “open working” culture
So without further ado, let’s get started.
Achieving Productivity as a remote worker
You belong to a team when working remotely. However, some things are best done alone. That’s why you need quiet time to yourself, a good space, regular breaks, and a lot more to increase performance. But how? Find out more.
Build a comfortable and productive workspace.
When working remotely, anywhere can be an office, but not every office is productive. The magic is to find a balance between comfort and productivity. Your first working space is your home. Whether you’re using your bedroom or kitchen as your office, ensure it has the motivational environment to keep you going. Keep it simple, with options for sitting and standing desks when working.
A co-working space near you comes in handy whenever you feel your productivity is falling at home. Because let’s face it, working in your pajamas at home can sometimes be demotivating. But wherever you are, make sure your working environment gives you the comfort you need to keep working. However, it shouldn’t be too comfortable to distract your work. This is why working from your bedroom may not be a good idea sometimes. But if that’s where you’re productive, why not.
Wherever you’re working from, keep these working environment tips in mind.
- Use proper lighting for your workspace – it boosts your mood and energizes you to work harder
- Make sure you’re not in a noisy environment, especially when using a co-working space or coffee shop.
- Use ergonomic and comfortable furniture that helps you keep a healthy posture. It also prevents neck and back pains.
- Make it fun. NO, you can’t have ping pong tables. However, you can get a fun wall or laptop stickers to keep you smiling when work gets boring.
- Keep water and snacks near you or coffee if that’s what you prefer
Get yourself the best technology for working remotely
Well, we all know the tech needed by remote workers, right? The great laptop and fast Wi-Fi. While this is true, being productive as a remote worker goes beyond a computer and Wi-Fi connection. Depending on the kind of remote work you do, you may need a lot of other gear to stay productive.
For customer service representatives, for instance, an audio system and noise-canceling headphones are essential. The same goes for remote workers whose work consists of video and audio discussions every single day. Other great tools include a wireless keyboard, a second screen, a good smartphone, a camera, and more.
Aside from this, the video, collaboration, and chat tools such as Slack, Skype, Zoom, and Asana among others are usually provided by your organization. Investing in the right tech makes work easier and increases your productivity. Of course, the kind of gear you get will usually depend on your type of work.
Maintain a strict but balanced schedule for effective remote working
Have strict working times.
Work can be so “free” without a co-worker talking to you from the other desk. But even with that, there are still things that could distract you from performing. Which is why it’s important to have strict working time. It could be a one-time work or you could work in sprints by dividing work into 2 or 3 different times. It keeps your focus and empowers you to meet your goals efficiently.
Experiment with different times to identify your magic moments.
We all know, as remote workers, that our productivity fluctuates. The more reason why it’s good to find the times that work best for you. Do you prefer working early in the morning? That’s good. Love the night time work? That’s also perfect.
The best way to stay on top of the game is to experiment with your work times to know what works best for your productivity. Of course, remote workers who are into customer support may have strict working time. However, that can still be worked out before one starts the job altogether.
Document your workflow for consistent productivity
Remote work involves a lot of repetitive tasks. Doing emails, copying data, assigning work to other teammates, etc. If you want to stay productive, you have to keep a checklist of all your repetitive tasks. This helps keep you on track and prevents unnecessary errors in future tasks.
Beyond your benefits, workflow recording helps other team members as well. During a holiday or vacation, any member who picks your documented workflow will know how you go about things. This also makes assigning work to other team members easier.
Benjamin Mulholland, editor at process management firm Process Street sees workflow documentation as a vital factor contributing to his remote work productivity.
I honestly don’t know how I got any work done before I started documenting my processes. Yes, I work for Process Street, but even if I didn’t I’d be shouting the benefits of doing so from the rooftops.
Make planning a part of your remote working routine
Alan Lakein summed it all up as
Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.
Going into a day or week without a plan is the quickest route to failure as a remote worker.
There’s usually a lot to do when working remotely. You have to plan if you want to achieve anything worthwhile. To stay productive, you need to have a monthly plan for what you’re going to be doing. Each month should have weekly goals and tasks to simplify work. Planning keeps you focused on your job and helps you meet your team’s goals.
Take regular breaks
All work and no play makes the remote worker unproductive. In a remote working environment, there are few to no distractions. While this helps you focus on the important things, it can also make you dull. And while you may have a deadline coming up, taking regular breaks to warm up helps keep you productive.
However, remember that too much of everything is bad. Taking regular breaks doesn’t mean you should leave your desk every 15 minutes. Breaks are necessary for refreshing your brain. However, too much of it will decrease productivity and may instill a bad habit that could affect your remote career.
Taking regular breaks can do a lot more, especially for your health. It’s effective in reviving your blood circulation and prevent headaches.
Learn your natural rhythms and optimize around them. Not feeling productive? Get up and go for a walk. Or do the dishes. Don’t stare at your computer screen if you know you aren’t feeling it. Give yourself a break to let your brain work out the problems you’re dealing with. You’ll be surprised what comes to you when you return.
Maximizing remote work productivity through your team
Working remotely doesn’t mean you’re an island. Yes, you’re not alone. It’s easy to forget, sometimes, that you’re part of a team. What you do and what your team does affect every aspect of your work and the organization. Making sure you’re accountable, reliable, and part of a whole is the best way to achieve success together. Here’s how.
Connect your goals with that of the team
We all have goals as part of a team. The team as a whole also has goals. These goals could be daily, weekly or monthly. While we focus on achieving our share of the tasks at hand, working without knowing what’s going on in the team can bring confusion sometimes.
This is why it’s important to make sure that your goals are in line with that of your team. Beyond work goals, like finishing that article on time, presenting your design, or launching that API you’re working on, you can also sync personal goals. The reason is, you’re all working towards something bigger, and you joined the team because of this bigger goal. Aligning your goals, both professional and personal with your organization and the team is a step towards building a great remote work culture.
Be accountable… What people tend to forget when working remotely is that they’re still part of a whole. Your teammates/other company employees are still affected by what you do or don’t do. If you are aware and are accountable, people realize you’re reliable and they don’t doubt you while you’re enjoying the freedom to travel around.
Participate in weekly calls and get updates on what’s going on.
Like one-on-one meetings in the office, weekly calls are great starters for every remote team. As a remote worker, participating in these team calls helps you learn what’s happening with everyone. You get to tell the team what you’re working on, what you intend to do in the next day or week. Remote team calls help set you up for the week and also helps you measure your success at the end of the week or month. During these meetings:
- Ask relevant questions
- Ask for help if you need it
- Use the opportunity to collaborate with anyone you would like to work on a project together.
- Give your team members ample time to get back to you by letting them know when something is due.
- You can get personal, but don’t overdo it.
Make your problems known to the team
We all have problems in life – and they come up as well when we join a remote team. Sometimes you’re not clear about an instruction. Other times, the team gives you something you can’t handle. In this situation, the “keep quiet and suffer” mentality won’t get you anywhere.
To build the team together, you need to open up about your problems. This could include any instructions you need clarifications on, an application you need to make your work easier, or something that someone said that makes you feel bad. Nobody is an island in a remote team, and you shouldn’t be by keeping quiet when problems arise.
Pursue an “open” remote working strategy
Working remotely is becoming easier every passing day thanks to the many tools out there. Collaboration, chat, file-sharing, and more. These tools can sometimes feel overwhelming and you would just want to keep your files on your computer.
However, this is not the right path to take. Embracing an open work environment means that you make all the necessary files available in a shared document. It could be on Google docs or sheet, on slack, Jira, or on any collaboration platform that the team uses.
And an open work environment helps you and your team avoid unnecessary pressure during emergencies. For instance, your team may need a document urgently and you would be offline or on vacation. Always keep your organization’s files in open and shared resources to make them available when you’re traveling or faced with an unexpected situation.
Final morsels on guidelines for working remotely.
Remote work is gradually gaining grounds. Work isn’t just a place anymore, it’s a state of being.
However, remote work isn’t some magic you sprinkle on your career and automatically get to success. We all know the advantages of deciding your own working time and working from wherever you prefer. Regardless, there are days when you can’t seem to find the motivation to work. When you’re stuck anytime, this guide will help spice your productivity.