Working remotely can be challenging, in terms of motivation and communication. It also can be a great opportunity for personal growth, as well as heightened productivity. When I started working from a home office nine years ago, it was a drastic change from driving to an office and wearing professional attire five days a week. I heard endless jokes about working in my pajamas, taking afternoon naps, and lollygagging through the workday.
In reality, I dressed for work – including doing my hair and makeup – every day, my productivity increased, and I stayed engaged with my counterparts at our headquarters and branch office locations. The downside: I sometimes forgot to take lunch until late afternoon, and I had to fight the urge to wander into my office and “do a few more things” before bed.
Here are my top recommendations for success as a remote worker:
- Create a home office. Even if you don’t have a designated room in your home that is just an office, designate a space that is dedicated solely to work. This not only gives you the feeling of “going to work,” but also helps you stay organized and focused.
- Remove distractions. Close your door, put in headphones, turn on background music…do whatever it takes to create a professional environment for yourself.
- Dress for work every single day. Don’t put on a ball cap or throw your hair on top of your head and start work in your pajamas. You don’t need to achieve sartorial splendor; however, you should be prepared for a video conference or FaceTime call during working hours. Looking professional helps you feel more polished, and that can also help you stay in the “work zone.”
- Be accountable, and don’t take advantage. Working remotely offers a lot of flexibility, so be accountable, be available, and be visible. If you haven’t seen the hilarious “Conference Call in Real Life” video by Tripp and Tyler, it’s worth a watch. “Video Conference in Real Life” and other videos in this series are funny because they’re so true. Most of us in corporate America have experienced conference calls — or worse, video conferences – with individuals who were unprepared, inconsiderate, or simply not engaged. Don’t be that guy.
- Stay in touch. Reach out to coworkers or team members just to check in, especially if you don’t regularly go to an office. One way to do this is to share a relevant article, quote, or video that might benefit the person you’re contacting. If you have an instant message platform, take advantage of that to touch base, ask a quick question, or simply say, “Happy Friday.”
- Take breaks. Set a timer if you need to. Like pop-up notifications on your computer for meetings or events, these reminders can help get you out of your chair and take a break to refresh your mind and body.
- Stop working. Work-life balance isn’t really a balance, it’s a matter of setting some boundaries. For instance, I physically leave for lunch at least three days a week, and in the evenings, I like to close my office door so I can focus on family and friends, without feeling the pull of work.
The opportunity to work remotely – whether from home or a shared office/coworking space – can benefit both employee and employer. Communication is key, so be sure expectations are understood on both sides of the screen. If you have questions or remote work best practices to share, contact the author directly at email@example.com.