July 14, 2021 - Management

Management

9 Tips to Make Working Remotely Work for You and Your Employer

9 Tips to Make Working Remotely Work for You and Your Employer

The concept of remote working has been around for a long time. Many entrepreneurs have mastered the ability to work virtually, but it is often a major challenge for those who normally work in a busy office setting to shift to working outside their traditional office environment. Working remotely can feel more isolating than mingling with co-workers in an office setting.

Being effective while you work remotely takes more than a mindset shift. It requires a disciplined approach to planning your activities and seeking out opportunities to interact with your co-workers. Here are nine practical tips you can use to make the most of this experience.

Establish a Routine

Just as you have a routine in your normal workday, try to mimic this routine as you work in your remote location. Whether it is at your home, an airport, or a coffee shop, following your normal work schedule is vital to feeling like you are really working. Start your workday the same way you would if you were working in the office. Start your workday at the same time you would if you were going to the office. Make sure you take time to get ready for work as well. It is important to get dressed for work, even if you’re working from home. Wearing your pajamas might be comfortable, but it does not prepare your mindset for work. It can become easy to get distracted when you are working in a different environment, so focus on acting like you’re still working in a supervised workplace. This approach will help you feel more like you are working.

Set up a Dedicated Workspace

Having an area in your home where you do your work is essential to success in working remotely. It is easy to become distracted by the dog, television or the pile of household tasks that need to be completed. Set up your workspace in a part of the home where these distractions aren’t nearby. Always remind yourself that when you are in your workspace, you are working. If you combine a dedicated workspace with following your normal worktimes, you can do a better job of staying focused.

Convert Commute Time to Learning Time

The time you used to spend on your commute is now extra time that you can use to enhance your value by learning something new. With the plethora of online courses and videos, you can take advantage of the free time that you would have spent commuting to enhance your skills. Even better, you might be able to get a certificate of completion, or a professional credential that will make you even more valuable when you get back to a normal office work routine.

Take a Lunch Break

One of the most challenging aspects about working remotely is that it becomes easy to just sit at your desk and eat your lunch. In a normal work environment, you have to leave your desk, get your food from the lunch room, or go out to buy lunch somewhere nearby. At home, your lunch is just a short walk to the kitchen. Thinking you can have a quick lunch and get right back to work could cause your lunch time to drop from an hour to 15 minutes, which can lead to burnout more easily. Instead of taking a quick lunch, use the full time allotted to you for lunch to get in your workout or engage in some other activity to benefit your health. Giving yourself a solid break during the day will help reinvigorate you and give you a mental boost to finish the day strong.

Connect with Others

As previously mentioned, remote work can create a sense of isolation and loneliness since you don’t have coworkers nearby to talk with. When you are feeling a little lonely or isolated, take a minute to reach out to someone. Rather than sending a lengthy email, see if a colleague is available to talk live about a project over a meeting platform like Zoom, Google Meet, Slack, etc. If they are working remotely too, they might welcome the human contact! Making an effort to create intentional connections like this builds team bonds, helps to improve team productivity through collaboration, and helps to keep you feeling connected and sustained when you are working remotely. It also offers you additional opportunities to dig even deeper into issues and brainstorm alternative solutions to critical issues that you may be having difficulty solving on your own.

Use Video Conferencing

Using technology applications such as video conferencing platforms like Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, Slack, Microsoft Teams, or any other like it is a great way to connect people from different locations. Being able to see your coworkers while speaking with each other provides a deeper level of connection and engagement than a phone call or text. Don’t worry about looking perfect on camera. The key here is using technology to connect with each other. Remote meetings are often very effective, but you need to make sure everyone is focused on the meeting and not multi-tasking! You can even set up regularly scheduled meetings via video conferencing so you can add more structure to your workday. Video conferencing technology can also be a very helpful to for creating a collaborative environment that you can use to bring employees together to work on projects together.

Communicate Clearly Using an Appropriate Medium

If you are now relying on digital communication with your colleagues through email, be sure you are communicating effectively. Keep the content and tone of your communications professional. Sarcasm or snarky comments have no place in written communication as they can be taken out of context without the body language or facial expressions to convey your meaning. Take some time to plan out the structure for your communication. Identify your key messages and what details you need to add to support them. This will help you clarify your thinking and be better understood by others when they are only relying on your written communication. If your email communications need to have multiple emails sent back and forth to make your message clear to others, then you have a fantastic opportunity to improve on them. Alternatively, if you need to communicate with someone about a complex issue, project or process, consider using video conferencing technology instead. This will allow you to get your message across more clearly without having to wait on each other to send email responses back and forth.

Leverage Your Opportunities for Productivity

One of the first things you will likely discover as a remote worker is that you are more productive without all the interruptions that are common during an office workday. The lack of interruptions and distractions create additional opportunities for you to be more efficient in completing your normal work responsibilities. Remote work also offers you the opportunity to be even more productive. Leverage this increased productivity and tackle that special project you were hoping to get done someday. That someday is now! Just make sure it is a one-off project, not a permanent addition to your job responsibilities, which brings us to the next tip…

Be Aware of the Time Trap

Due to increased productivity while working remotely, it is not uncommon for people to feel guilty that they are not working hard enough when working remotely since you’re completing your daily tasks much more quickly. This makes it easy to fall into a time trap where you seek out additional job responsibilities to fill your time. Keep in mind that you won’t have the same opportunities for productivity once you go back to a normal office environment. You’ll have all of the interruptions mentioned in the previous tip to deal with upon your return. You and your boss should be clear about the fact that these added responsibilities are temporary while you work remotely. That way, the extra work does not cause complications when you get back to working in the office.

Final Thoughts

Having a major shift in how you work is not ideal and can be a challenge for many people to adjust to. However, you can adapt to the situation with mindful practice and focus. Keep in mind that it takes time learning to balance all of the complex aspects of working remotely to be a productive asset to your team and organization. Be creative in exploring all your options for maintaining a connection with those you work with. Just make sure you keep your mindset on making a remote situation work for you—and your employer.

About the author: Jill J. Johnson is the President and Founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the bestselling book Compounding Your Confidence. Jill helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted more than $4 billion worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results. For more information on Jill J. Johnson, please visit: www.jcs-usa.com

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