Every remote worker faces unique challenges, from distractions that are unusually hard to avoid to increasingly complex responsibilities at home that make it challenging to find a healthy work-life balance. The good news? The amazing benefits of remote work make the effort you put into overcoming any work-from-home obstacles more than worth your time.
The particular aspects of remote work mean that you’ll have to do some planning ahead to work from home successfully. By developing a few good habits and following some key suggestions, you can work through any work-from-home challenges that come your way. Check out these 12 tips to help you find success when working remotely!
How to Be a Good Remote Worker
1. Communicate Proactively
When you’re not in the same office as your boss and teammates, you need to take your communication skills to the next level. Use email, phone calls, video calls, online chat software, and whatever other tools you have at your disposal. Ask when and how people want to hear from you, and follow those preferences. Be prepared to over-communicate to ensure you and your team members are collaborating effectively, and your manager knows your priorities.
2. Clarify Expectations
Clarifying expectations starts by having frequent and transparent conversations with your boss and coworkers, making sure you know what they expect you to accomplish and when. Continue to manage expectations as you proceed with projects and tasks, providing updates and asking for clarification as needed. When you’ve met your deadline, ask for feedback to make sure you did what you needed to do. This will help you build trust and ensure that you and your teammates are on the same page.
3. Set Office Hours and Stick to Them
Decide what your regular work hours will be and inform your boss and colleagues of your schedule. Then do all you can to follow it. Your coworkers need to know when you’ll be available for work tasks and meetings, and when you’re clocked out and on personal time. Creating a set schedule also makes it more likely that you won’t consistently work long hours, which will support your overall work-life balance.
4. Dress for the Job
As tempting as it may be, resist the urge to stay in your PJs all day long and dress for work every day. Not only will you want to look professional on video meetings, but getting dressed in the morning puts your brain in “work” mode.
5. Structure Your Days
To work from home successfully, you’ll need to plan out and structure your days so the hours don’t get away from you. Create to-do lists, set goals, and come up with a daily schedule, complete with breaks and times when you’ll be able to focus on deep work. Depending on your specific job, you may even want to break your day up into chunks of time dedicated to different tasks (i.e., 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., respond to emails; 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., work on project #1). The more structure you can build into your remote working days, the less likely you’ll be sidetracked.
6. Create Dedicated Office Space
When you set up a home office space that is specifically for your work and nothing else, you’ll inevitably have fewer distractions. Find a room (or a closet!) in your home that isn’t used for anything else, and turn that into your very own work area. Of course, when your office is in your home, you also have the freedom to switch it up once in a while to create a cool, new workspace that keeps it interesting.
7. Use Task Lists and Time Management Tools
With no manager hovering over your shoulder asking for updates, you may find it easy to get distracted or spend too long on a particular task or project. Create and use daily task lists, noting what you hope to accomplish and how long it should take. Seek out other time management tools, as necessary, to keep you on track and ensure that you meet your deadlines.
8. Take Breaks
Without the rhythm of an office around you, it’s easy to get in a groove and forget to take a lunch break or stretch your legs with a quick walk. If necessary, set an alarm to remind you to take occasional breaks. You’ll find this helps you focus and keeps you refreshed so you can be the most effective and efficient worker possible.
9. Avoid Personal Tasks
To be a good remote employee, it’s essential to not let household to-dos take over your schedule. Sure, throwing in a load of laundry during a work break is fine, but make sure you don’t let miscellaneous household tasks dictate your workday. Not only will they ultimately extend your day past your regular work hours, but the constant interruptions will impede your productivity and performance.
10. Exercise Regularly
Whether you go for a run or walk during your lunch break or schedule an online yoga session to end your workday, keeping a regular exercise routine will help you combat the sedentary lifestyle that remote work can lead to.
11. Create a Strong Support System
Working remotely can lead to loneliness and isolation, but staying connected while working from home helps keep these feelings at bay. Until the pandemic is over, your only interaction during the workday may be virtual, but that’s OK! Virtual coffee breaks and lunches, interactive happy hours, and post-work Zoom meetings with friends can keep you feeling a part of a community.
Once you’re able to, try to occasionally work out of a coffee shop or local co-working space where others tend to work. You’ll meet like-minded remote workers and feel like you’re part of a group, even though you’ll all be working for different companies.
12. Plan Occasional In-Person Meetings With Team Members
While online communication tools will help you build strong virtual bonds, it’s hard to replace face-to-face conversations. Meeting with your coworkers and manager in person won’t always be possible (like during a pandemic). But when things get back to normal, it’s useful to schedule quick meet-ups with local team members and attend any offsite retreats that your company offers.
Take a Big Picture View
On some days, your plans will fall through, and you might not be able to exercise or stick to your schedule. That’s understandable and completely fine—just be flexible, adapt to circumstances, and keep trying to develop good habits that enable you to work from home successfully. Keeping your remote work goals top of mind will help you be a good remote employee while also supporting a balanced life.
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