6 Ways to keep Working Remotely Productive
In 2019, there were 3.7 million employees working from home at least half of the time, and that number is only going to continue to grow. In fact, since 2005, the number of people telecommuting has grown 115%. However, just because it’s popular doesn’t mean that it works well for everyone. Working from home has some really great advantages: no commute, the ability to work almost wherever you’d like, and flexible work hours. However, it can be difficult to keep your motivation high without a manager or peers in the office keeping you accountable. What are some of the best ways to keep yourself focused and driven as a remote employee? Here’s a list of 6 things we’ve found to make an impact on your productivity and general happiness while working from home.
Keep It Regular
Just because you may be working from an unusual place doesn’t mean your hours should be unusual. Despite the fact that 85% of remote workers say that remote work was their decision because they wanted more flexibility, to make their own hours, and to live a carefree lifestyle, 84% of them say that they actually mostly work from home. When working from a familiar space, it can be really tempting to let the lines bleed in: it’s easy to sleep in, for example, when you only have to walk five feet to get to the office. That being said, it’s important and valuable to maintain the same habits every day.
Try to maintain a regular schedule, just like you would if you were going into the office. Get up at the same time, get dressed like you were going to work, and work as if you were in the office.
This serves both to make sure you are giving the time your company deserves, but also that you are protecting your time out of the office. If you’re remote, people aren’t able to see when you’re available just by looking over at your desk. Using a tool like Bookafy can help keep out-of-hours booking to a minimum. Set up your office hours and sync the tool with Google so that people can book time on your calendar when it makes the most sense for you.
Set up a separate space
Most remote workers want to keep working from home. After all, so many of them actually do work from home, rather than pursuing the life of a digital nomad. For those that stay home, it’s important to invest in creating a special, dedicated space to work from. When you move into a separate space, your mindset changes—look at all of those studies about why you shouldn’t work from your bedroom.
Luckily, many remote workers have already discovered this: 31% have created and work in a dedicated home office space. It’s important to have a separate, distraction-free space to be able to go to when you work…and step out of when you are done with your day. There’s nothing worse than associating a space in your house with work and not being able to properly unwind when trying to spend quality time with your family and friends.
Act like you’re in the office
Even if one of the benefits of working remotely is that you can do so from the comfort of your couch, you should still behave as if you were going into the office. Get up and get dressed, brush your hair and teeth, and set up your day as you would if you were going in for your commute.
Once working, don’t treat yourself as a second-class citizen. When in meetings, turn on video and audio, and advocate that your coworkers do the same. You wouldn’t walk into a meeting with a bag over your head—why do the same when on video chat? Using video while meeting with colocated coworkers can help convey nuance through facial expressions in a way that text or just voice cannot.
Similarly, 87% of remote workers feel more connected through the use of video conferencing. Keep yourself in the loop and encourage yourself to feel bought into an experience by making yourself as present as possible. Use Slack, video chat, and whatever other tooling is available to you as a means to forge bonds and communicate better with your in-office coworkers.
Plan out each day
According to a recent time management study, 20% of the average workday is spent on “crucial” and “important” things, while 80% of the average workday is spent on things that have “little value” or “no value”. Just twenty percent! Now, imagine how much more efficient you could be with your time if you took the time to plan out what each day looked like?
At the beginning of your workday, take some time to look at your calendar and mark off the major things that you need to get accomplished during the day. Plot out time on your calendar to give yourself the time needed to accomplish those things before divvying up the rest of your time between other, less time-consuming or valuable projects. You’ll find that when you go into your day with a specific plan of attack, you end up being more productive than you would’ve been otherwise.
Remote employees are hyper productive. In fact, 85% said they preferred to work alone to “hit maximum productivity.” What’s more, two-thirds of managers say employees who work remotely increase the team’s productivity overall. It feels great to get things done, and even better when you are the wind beneath your teammates’ wings. However, moving at such a breakneck pace forever can get exhausting and can lead to burnout.
Without the social cues of the other people around you taking breaks, going to get lunch, and walking to buy coffees, it can be difficult to remember to take breaks yourself. Set calendar reminders for yourself as a remote employee to remind you to take appropriate breaks. Taking different kinds of breaks throughout the day, such as meditation breaks or movement breaks can help to reduce the load on your prefrontal cortex, allowing you to be even more productive when you return back to work.
Actually log off
According to a study done by Buffer, 22% of remote workers say that the biggest challenge of working remotely is being able to unplug after working hours. Without anyone keeping track of you, it can be really easy to just work through into the night—after all, you don’t have to leave to go home for dinner, you’re already there.
Make sure to be as protective of your time outside of work as you are about your time inside. Just as you would encourage anyone in the house with you to give you space while you are working, you should separate yourself from work as much as you can during off-hours. Maybe that means putting your phone on do-not-disturb or leaving your computer in the space that you usually dedicate to work. Being able to truly disconnect from work for the period of time before starting your next day allows you to come back to your desk in the morning refreshed and ready to get at it with new enthusiasm.
Much of finding productivity when working from home is being able to set appropriate boundaries. Give yourself the appropriate times and space to work on work, and enjoy home—with very little separation between the two, it can be difficult to keep things separate. You may find yourself thinking about work while cooking dinner or trying to enjoy time with your family unless you set aside specific times and rituals around work.
Always act like you’re going to the office and, once you start your day, take the time to set yourself up for success and plan out what you’re going to be accomplishing that day. Going into every day with a plan of attack helps to keep you focused and driven when the rest of your day may be pretty free-flowing and lax. Working remotely doesn’t automatically mean that you sit around in your pajamas all day. Remote employees are some of the most productive team members out there, as long as they give themselves the appropriate time and space to focus.
Yaakov Karda is the co-founder of Chatra.io and a slow coffee enthusiast. When not brewing or working on the startup, he helps his wife with their art projects or explores Tel-Aviv on a bicycle.