We have seen a dynamic shift in the last decade with employers allowing more of their workforce to work remotely from the comfort of their own home. Not only does this benefit the employee by allowing a flexible schedule and a better work-life balance, but employers also reap the benefits by reducing their overall operating expenses.
I recently read an article titled “14 Habits of the Most Productive Remote Workers” which focused on what employees can do to ensure they are as productive as possible in a remote environment. If you presently work remotely or will be transitioning to remote work in the future, the article pointed out the following tips that may be helpful to consider:
- Equipment: Ensure you have equipment that will aid in your productivity. Consider purchasing a computer that can be dedicated for work use only. Selecting a computer make and model that you are familiar will help prevent loss of productivity that can occur when acclimating to new equipment. Consider other pieces of equipment that will improve your “at home” office functionality and save you time.
- Stay Active: The article highlighted a female worker who spends up to 15 hours per week working from her treadmill desk … combining work with exercise has helped her stay focused. You may wonder how she can “work” and “walk” at the same time but she said walking at 2 mph is not fast enough to impede her productivity.
- Managing Distractions can also impact your productivity.
- Three-minute rule: The article mentioned adopting a “three-minute rule” which allows you to focus on things that require an immediate response by setting aside three minutes every hour to address things not on your “daily to do list” whether work to-do’s or personal to-do’s). Three minutes devoted to these other distractions can give you peace of mind and ease undue stress throughout the workday.
- Set a work schedule and make others aware: Ensure family and friends understand you have a work schedule to eliminate unexpected visits and phone calls during the day. Encourage them to respect your work day as your job at home should be treated the same as if you worked in an office setting.
- Working remotely with children: If you have children at home during the work day consider a magnetic white board to hang in your office providing a place for them to draw, write messages or display artwork. Additional rules such as “do not disturb” when the office door is closed may be necessary too.
- Personal distractions: If you experience distractions from social media or other websites throughout the day, an app called “Stay Focused” allows you to set time limits. Once the time limit has been reached the site is blocked for the rest of the day.
- Email response time-delay: Sometimes it is helpful to time-delay email responses so others do not get used to receiving immediate responses from you which can set an unrealistic expectation. When you respond to an email you can set delivery options so the response sends at a specific date/time.
- Client Interaction:
- Prep Time for Meetings: If you have scheduled meetings with clients, ensure you build prep-time for the meeting into your calendar. Whether internal team meetings or external client meetings where you will be using webcams, set reminders in your calendar to allow enough time to “get ready” (shower, get dressed, makeup, hair, etc.) prior to the conference since this may not be routine practice for those working from home
- Communication: Not seeing your co-workers face to face means communication is key to keeping workplace stress, tension and conflict to a minimum. Regular and clear communication with co-workers and managers will help the entire team feel connected, will foster good relationship building and ongoing collaboration. Keep focused when sending email communication too. Try to keeping messages as short as possible and use bulleted lists to organize your thoughts.
- Conference Call Participation: Some of you may view conference calls as a time to put yourself on “mute” and work on other things or sit back and relax and let everyone else do the talking. It is important to prepare in advance for the calls by reviewing the agenda and collecting your thoughts and questions about each agenda item. Preparing a couple of questions to ask during the meeting will force you to stay focused and engaged throughout the call.
- Ensure Your Success Working Remotely:
- Allow for Planning Time: Set time aside for planning. Select a time during the work week (at the beginning or end of the work week) to reflect on what things are going well and what things are not , allow time to plan ahead for the next work week and establish time to review your goals and evaluate progress towards meeting them.
- Flexible Schedule: Set a schedule that works best for you and your family. This will ensure fewer distractions, allow you to establish efficiencies and commit to a true work schedule. You know your family responsibilities better than anyone else so establish a work schedule to compliment your “at home” commitments. Balancing the two will help ensure your success.
- Setting Personal and Professional Goals: Write them down and post them at your desk as a constant reminder. This will prevent your goals from getting “lost in the shuffle” or replaced by your ongoing to do list. Posting them at your desk will help you stay focused and assess the progress you have made towards reaching each goal.