Remote work can be difficult, especially when you are new to it. As a former remote employee I’ve experienced the ups-and-downs of remote work, but also the victories.
Remote work can be lonely, isolating, and unmotivated at times, but it can also provide focus and clarity. Being successful at remote work all depends on your attitude and approach to it.
Here are my tips from the trenches on how to actually get work done from home and remain sane while doing it:
Getting Work Done
Who doesn’t love the idea of sitting on their couch watching netflix as they create some boring corporate powerpoint. But in reality that’s not productive. You don’t have good posture, and your computer isn’t at eye level. Create a dedicated space – ideally not the kitchen table – where you can have your laptop elevated or can use a monitor. Also, make sure you are sitting in a chair that is comfortable and supportive.
Keep a Routine & Dress for Work
Start your days with intentionality and keep your morning routine. Keep your routine or establish a new one (I recommend starting each day by making your bed). Get dressed and wear work appropriate clothes – it’s hard to be in a productive mindset when you are dressed for a lazy Sunday in your sweats. Also consider starting your day with a walk to increase blood flow and emulate the commute to the office.
One of the hardest things about being remote is not being able to talk with your coworkers face to face. Non-verbal communication isn’t transferred over instant message and even phone calls can leave out some of the detail. Video calls are a great way to have that face to face communication without physically being in the same room.
When your only form of physical activity is walking from the kitchen to the bathroom back to your desk you start to feel lethargic – and that can negatively impact your work. That can be anything from stretches throughout the day or going for a jog through the day. Studies show that being physically active can improve your mental health and quality of life. Also getting up and going outside can be a literal breath of fresh air.
Digital Water Cooler
It’s hard to be strictly business all the time. Start meetings by asking everyone how their weekend was or how their kids are doing. Also use tools like Slack to create a digital water cooler or to still have those hallway conversations that keep things moving.
Feel Free to Unfocus
One reason may remote employees love working from home is the lack of office distractions. You’re free from hearing the person next to you yell into the phone or the coworker who has to say hello every time they pass. But that also means you’re at your desk for eight hours without a break. Don’t feel bad about taking five or ten minutes to mentally reset and stretch.
End Your Workday
Working from home also means you are living at work. Much like you started the day with a routine you should end your day with a routine. This signals to your brain that it’s time to shift focus. It’s too easy when you walk past your desk to hop on and make that quick edit that you just thought of or to check if the client ever responded. It’s harder to keep boundaries when home and work are physically the same space. Having a routine will help.
No matter if you are new to remote work or have been doing it for years, there is triumph and failure when working from home. The key is being intentional by setting routines but also incorporating the human side of work where possible.