Remote working has been on the rise for the last several years, thanks to advancements in technology. As of 2018, 5 million American employees worked at home at least some of the time. (Image Credit: Djurdjica Boskovic/Unsplash)
Since the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entire world, remote working is likely to become even more prominent and popular across the globe. Some people were forced to start working from home to encourage social distancing. Now, many businesses are realizing that by having employees work remotely, they can increase productivity and lower their overhead costs.
You might also start working from home if you want to run your own business. There is never a ‘wrong’ time to follow your dreams and chase your passion. But, if that includes working remotely, it’s important to know how to do it the right way.
While working from home sounds great on paper (and in many cases, it is!), it takes discipline, effort, and dedication to do it successfully.
With that in mind, let’s cover some useful tips you can use if you’re starting to work from home for the first time, whether you’re starting your own business or working remotely for your existing job.
1. Set Up an Actual Office Space
If you want to set yourself up for success while working from home, you should actually set up an office space for yourself. If you live in an apartment or other small living space, you don’t necessarily need to take up a whole room.
But, having a home office is important, even if it’s just a desk in a corner of a room somewhere. You should keep your home office organized and separated from the other aspects of your home. Don’t set up your office in a place where you will be easily distracted, like around a television or in a heavy-traffic area of the home where your family might be coming and going.
Additionally, it’s important to make sure your family knows and understands where your office space is and what it means. It may be in the home, but it should feel like a separate space from everything else.
2. Give Yourself Working Hours
While it can be tempting to sleep in every day, walk into the living room in your pajamas, watch television, and start working around noon, that is a recipe for disaster when it comes to successfully working remotely.
It’s a good idea to develop a daily routine and set working hours for yourself. If you’re currently working at home for a job you had before, you can make it easy on yourself by sticking with the same routine you used to use before going into the office. The only difference? Instead of dealing with the morning commute, you’ll just have to walk through the living room to get to your home office.
Start work at the same time each day, and end at the same time. Not only will this help you to stay on track throughout the day, but it will give you a better work-life balance. When you work at home, you might be able to get away with working in the evenings or staying up late to get things done, but that might start to have a negative impact on your personal life.
By setting hours for yourself, you’re less likely to fall behind and you can have a specific start and end to your workday, so you’ll feel more accomplished at the end of each day and can enjoy yourself with your family and/or friends every evening.
3. Utilize Technology Resources
One of the reasons why working remotely has become so popular is because technology has made it easy.
Don’t be afraid to use technological resources to your advantage when you’re working at home. That includes video conferencing, either with people who work at your existing place of business or with possible clients if you’re starting your own business.
It’s worth it to make a video conferencing solution comparison between several different platforms to decide which one is right for you. Some of the most popular options include:
By staying as connected as possible with co-workers, clients, and even your employees if you run your own business, you can ensure that everyone stays on the same page and feels closer together no matter where you are.
4. Schedule and Take Breaks
Give yourself time during the day to step away from your screen and take breaks. It’s often beneficial to actually schedule these breaks in so you don’t forget about them. But, once they are on your schedule, make sure you follow through!
Taking a 15-minute break to step outside, stretch your legs, or walk around the block can be extremely beneficial to your physical, emotional, and mental health.
If you have a hard time stepping away from your work, you can install programs like TimeOut for your Mac, which will lock you out of your computer for a set period of time. When you aren’t “able” to work on your computer, it will force you to step away from it and take a well-deserved break. You might think that you’ll be missing out on work. But, taking breaks can actually improve your productivity and prevent burnout.
5. Let People Know How to Reach You
One of the potential drawbacks of working remotely is that it can sometimes be easy to feel disconnected from others. This is especially true if you used to work in an office or you were around people every day.
Now, someone can’t pop into your office to say hello or to ask you a question. So, over-communication is important when you’re working from home. Whether you’re in a managerial or ownership position, or you just want to be accessible to your co-workers, make sure everyone knows how to reach you at any given time.
Maybe you’re great at checking your emails throughout the day and responding quickly. Maybe you would prefer to talk on the phone. Or, maybe you benefit most from face-to-face contact and would love to connect with everyone through a program like FaceTime or Skype.
Not only should you tell your team how they can reach you, but when they can reach you. Do you check your emails in the morning? Let people know. Do you want your employees to let you know what they’ve been working on? Tell them how they can put together weekly reports. The more guidelines you put in place, the more streamlined and effective your communication will be. This cuts down on confusion and helps everyone to stay connected.
6. Include Social Interaction Into Your Week
While Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime are great options for staying connected with co-workers and employees, there is really no replacement for face-to-face interaction. So, make sure you schedule some type of in-person interaction with someone a few times each week.
That means more than just stopping your workday and having dinner with your family. Make time to get together with friends, or even old co-workers. Give yourself a “lunch break” or go meet with someone for coffee.
Social interaction is incredibly important for your mental health. It’s easy to feel disconnected at times when you’re working from home by yourself. Make up for that by putting people you care about into your schedule and meeting with them regularly.
7. Practice Self-Care
There are many benefits to working from home every day, but far too often people forget to take care of themselves. Either you might feel guilty for doing something for yourself during the day, or you get so involved with work that you forget about your own wellbeing.
Self-care is absolutely crucial for productivity in the workplace – even when that workplace is your own home. That’s why it’s so important to have a routine for yourself each day. In addition to doing things like waking up and going to sleep at the same time, establish a routine that recharges and re-energizes you.
That could include something like waking up and practicing yoga or mindfulness for a few minutes. It might include doing something you truly love once a week or starting your weekends early to spend time with your family or friends.
Working from home (or wherever you decide to set up your remote office) doesn’t mean you have to have your nose to the grindstone every second of every day. It’s a fine balance of staying dedicated and committed to the work you’re doing while not throwing away your own mental and physical health, in the process.
Find ways to put yourself first. Though it might seem counterproductive, you will quickly find that by taking better care of yourself, you’ll have more energy and more motivation to get the job done. As a result, you’ll be more productive, more creative, and more excited about the work you’re doing.
Remote working is a great opportunity for the right people. As long as you make the most of it and do things the right way, you can grow your own business or work for your current employer successfully, all from the comfort of your own home.