Working remotely is a reality of today’s workforce. There are arguments for (It’s better for business!) and against (In-office culture is what powers a business!), but there is no denying that telecommuting is a thing. And it’s not going anywhere. This is a topic I’ve become passionate about because, well, I’m a remote worker. I recently relocated to San Diego (goodbye Boston winters) and was fortunate enough to keep my position at SHIFT.
With the opportunity that was given to me, I set out determined to prove that being a remote worker can work without any loss of productivity or success. I’m still new to it all, but I’ve already begun to learn some important things that help me stay focused and on top of things each day.
Treat every day as if you’re going into the office. This means get up, get dressed, do your hair, make breakfast. Establish a morning routine that is similar to one you would have if you had to commute into work every day. As tempting as it is to stay in sweats all day, being dressed and freshened up in the AM will help get your mind focused on the day ahead.
Find your separate work area. Whether it’s in an office at home, a coffee shop or a coworking space, establish a designated area where you will live while you’re ‘at work.’ Sure, it’s easy to want to veg out on your couch or in bed and try and get some work done, but don’t do it. Why? Well for one thing, do you really want your bed and couch to be associated with where you do work? Save those spots for when you want to relax. Secondly, when you’re upright and at a desk your thoughts will be more ‘It’s time to get stuff done’ versus ‘It would be so easy just to take a quick nap right now …’
If staying at home in the solitude of your own company is enough to drive you crazy, check out coworking spaces available in your area. They are popping up everywhere, and for a cost, you can set up shop around others who are in the same situation you are. Not only will you feel more like you’re in an actual office, but you’ll get some networking in as well.
Take breaks. One of the nice things about working in an office is that you can easily be persuaded by coworkers to step outside for a walk around the block or a quick coffee. When you’re working solo, those distractions are eliminated, but you should still build in time throughout the day to take brief breaks. Step out to grab lunch. Take a walk around your neighborhood. Fast Company recently highlighted a study that showed that employees who made it a point to step away from their computers and phones for a few minutes at a time were some of the most productive. Take time to give your mind a mental break and refresh your focus.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. The key to your success as a remote worker will be clear, frequent communication with your team. Even though you’re physically apart from your team, it’s still important to be ‘a part’ of your team. It’s crucial to have daily check-ins not only with your manager, but others on your team as well. Be clear about what you’re working on, and be aware of what your team is working on. Thankfully, today’s technology has made remote working more possible than ever.
On my team, we have morning meetings everyday that I video conference into. Outside of that, I’m constantly IM’ing with them or emailing to collaborate on projects. We also use a project management system that serves as one central location to track progress. Letting them know I’m there and still a working member of the team is a priority for me. It should be for all remote workers.
Those are four major points I’ve learned thus far in my remote career. What tips do you have?
Senior Marketing Analyst