10 Remote Working Tips for Being More Productive
We’ve collated 10 remote working tips from our 9+ years of working in the remote work and call center industry to help you normalize the ebbs and flows of your productivity while working from home. These tips will help you maintain your momentum and balance your work and personal lives effectively.
1. Use Collaboration Tools
Using appropriate remote collaboration tools leads to more efficient communication with geographically dispersed colleagues. You’re liable to feel isolated when working remotely, so use instant messaging, video conferencing, and other collaboration tools to stay connected. This way you will always be able to align yourself with the bigger organizational picture and see where your contribution makes a difference to the whole.
Daily or weekly meetings in which each team member shares what they will be working on for that day or week helps everyone stay oriented, especially those who have sequential tasks. Your team members will know when you will get done with your bit, so they can take over.
At IdeasUnlimited, we use a wide array of tools to make sure our remote workforce stays productive. We use Skype and Slack for short conversations and urgent requests, Trello to manage our tasks, UberConference and Zoom for virtual meetings, along with many other tools. Microsoft Teams is another reliable and secure tool that can help you with real-time virtual collaboration. Try these apps and see which ones work best for you.
2. Use Time Management Tools
Any list of remote working tips is incomplete without mentioning time management tools that give you the extra impetus required to be more productive. Tools like TimeDoctor track all your screen activity, keyboard strokes, and mouse movement. They even designate time spent on social media networks as “Poor Time Use”, with pop-ups that ask you whether you are still working. Interested in a different interface and features? Look into Toggl for personal and business use. Another tool Harvest allows you to track time as well as expenses to make sure your projects are healthy and clients can be easily billed.
3. Set Up a Workspace
One of the most important remote working tips is setting up a dedicated workspace. Even if you’re working from home, nothing is keeping you from setting up a home office. It can be a spare room that you can transform or even a table in the corner of your bedroom. This will create a mental association between that space and going to the office, which will make you more productive.
You should never work on your bed. Doing so will make you lazy since you associate the bed with leisure time and would feel like taking a nap instead of working. Worse still, once you associate your bed with office work, you may not be able to sleep easily even when your bedtime rolls around.
You should also invest in an ergonomic desk and chair, to ensure that you are comfortable while working. This way you will be able to work for longer and feel less tired as well.
4. Communicate in Detail
Clarity is always important in communication but becomes even more so while communicating remotely. Over-explain tasks and deliverables rather than risk any miscommunication and resulting misunderstandings. It is easier doing so than going back and fixing mistakes.
Another important thing to note is that unless you mention the progress you’ve made on your tasks or which milestones you’ve achieved since the last meeting, they will likely not register with your manager. One of the most important remote working tips is to always remember that when your manager is not personally seeing you work in the office, the onus of communicating any hurdles and delays and even achievements lies on you.
5. Adhere to a Schedule
Adhere to a strict daily routine, with a designated start and definitive end of the day. Without in-person meetings and office timings, you may easily slide into working unusually long hours and burning out. You need this demarcation to let yourself and your family know that these hours cannot be used for any household chores like doing laundry, cleaning the house, or cooking meals. Communicating this schedule with your colleagues and everyone at home will be the first step to ensuring they respect your time and you get work done.
We’ve found that setting an alarm to mark the end of the day and wishing the team goodbye in a Skype group signals the end of the workday to everyone. You can then start saving your files to quit work for the day. Put away your laptop or close your office door to eliminate the urge to check emails one last time. This way your work will not bleed into your personal life and you can maintain a clear boundary between both.
6. Work During Peak Hours
Do you work best early in the morning or after lunch? Schedule your workday such that you handle the most important and hardest tasks and projects during your peak hours, when you are most motivated to work. This way you will handle them in the best way possible. Make sure all your important virtual meetings and team huddles take place in your peak hours. Reserve your low productivity hours for easier, routine tasks that don’t require much mental effort.
If you have a flexible work schedule, this becomes even more important since you have full control over which hours in the day you use for work. Remember: you will deliver subprime output when you are mentally fatigued.
7. Set Goals and Deadlines
Decide which tasks you’ll complete and at what time that day, always scheduling a bit more than you can comfortably complete during the day. Go one step further and outline the deliverables for each assignment as well and do it well in advance. Don’t spend the first couple of hours of a day planning what you’ll do that day.
This way, even if you are unable to complete everything on your list, you will have accomplished quite a bit. More importantly, it discourages you from doing anything else during the workday.
8. Reduce Distractions
Create a separate work account on your computer system if you are using your personal device for work. A completely work-related interface and browser will discourage you from opening up social media accounts for personal use, which is highly detrimental to your productivity. When you make it harder for yourself to open up these accounts since you need to sign into each in a new browser, you remove the temptation of taking too many social media breaks during the workday. You eliminate the gateway to these networks, reducing the chances of getting sucked into them.
Similarly, turning on the TV to act as background white noise is all well and good but tune in to a channel that you don’t find very interesting, so it does not distract you from your work. Checking newsfeeds is also not related to work and, thus, a distraction.
9. Take Small Breaks
Don’t get so immersed in work that you forget to take breaks altogether. Just because you are working from home, don’t get pressurized into not taking any time to relax. Take small breaks and leave your workspace to walk around, go outside, eat lunch, or even spend some time with others in the house. This will re-energize you to work faster and more efficiently when you get back from the break.
10. Schedule Virtual Team-Building Events
A list of remote working tips is not complete without discussing remote social interaction through virtual team-building events. Informal conversations about non work-related topics can foster a sense of belonging and reduce the isolation of remote work. You can talk about anything from the latest movie you’ve watched, the weather, how you spent your weekend, or even share funny memes. Virtual pizza parties or streaming the same movie simultaneously while chatting about it are great options as well.
As remote work becomes more of a norm, or even a necessity due to extenuating circumstances, you must lay down plans and strategies to ensure that your productivity improves while working from home. These 10 remote working tips give you the basic structure to build on and customize to suit your job requirements.
Do you have any other suggestions about being an effective remote worker? Add them to the comments down below.