Working from home feels like a dream for employees who have been operating in an office all along. You get to reclaim the long hours spent on commuting to work, on your schedule and have more time to invest in personal growth. In fact, Buffer’s 2020 Remote Work Report shows that 98% of employees want to continue working remotely for the rest of their careers.
However, remote work isn’t as easy as it seems. It also comes with its unique challenges. Work-from-home employees often struggle with staying motivated and productive. As such, proper preparation is necessary before you even dive into this industry. In this article, you’ll find the key tips needed to help you settle into any remote role efficiently and with ease.
1. Set Up Your Workspace
Your workspace determines how focused you’ll be on the job. To better manage distractions, your work area must be conducive for productivity. It has to be a dedicated spot or home office that is inaccessible by family members during work hours.
Instead of working on the sofa, get a suitable desk and ergonomic chair that will you from backaches. Keep your work surface tidy and organize gadgets or stationery in one place. For video meetings, ensure you have a professional-looking background. Moreover, get a noise-canceling headphone. If you have kids, make sure that someone is available to take care of them. If your partner is also working at home, plan a schedule that’s favorable for both of you.
2. Understand the Company’s Policies, Tools, and Workflow
Working remotely makes it hard to settle into a new job. Your colleagues may not be available to welcome you and answer questions. You are lucky if your company has an onboarding system. If this is the case, make sure you dedicate your first week to study processes, documents, and relevant tools. An onboarding tool like Apty helps your remote team to get trained and onboarded at the earliest.
Take the time to learn relevant news and information about the company. Read the onboarding resources to understand organizational policies, culture, structure, and workflow. If the company is using specific apps for communication, collaboration, and time management, make sure you go through the tools. Don’t hesitate to check for tutorials online if you find it hard to navigate these tools. If you get confused, take down questions to ask your supervisor during the next weekly check-in. Study each of them to ensure that you know how to use them.
3. Learn to Communicate with Your Colleagues
Your company must be using one of the available communication apps. So, distance isn’t an excuse to not have conversations with your coworkers. Amazingly, you can use these tools to discuss both work-related and unrelated topics. Most companies create channels for banters and random discourse.
Feel free to message your team members for explanations and clarifications. If there’s a channel for random discussions, don’t hesitate to contribute. This will help build a lasting connection between you and the team. What’s more, it can be an excellent medium for improving your communication skills. However, as you interact with your colleagues, respect their time. If possible, ask them how and when they prefer to receive messages or calls.
4. Create a Balanced Schedule
When working from home, it’s possible to lose track of priorities and deadlines. This is why you need to create a schedule for everything you do daily. You can go a bit extra by outlining the time you intend to spend for every activity in the day. Allocate time estimates for tasks, sleep, exercise, movies, meals, and any other business for the day. To make the process easier, we recommend that you use a reliable time tracker that will monitor how many minutes or hours you spend on each activity. For more details, you can Traqq.com.
If you start a task, avoid the temptation to switch periodically. Always stick till the end. You can set goals and reward yourself if you finish within set timeframes. Also, use productivity apps to help block out social media, emails, calls, and other distractions that may come up during work hours. When starting out, remote work may seem flexible. However, never outdo yourself. Stick to work timings and create a work-life balance. Workplace stress accounts for more than $125 billion – $190 billion in healthcare spending annually.
5. Prepare to Switch Things Up
You may find yourself sitting for long hours when working from home. So, you need to be intentional about taking a walk periodically. Set reminders to stand, stretch, or take short walks hourly. If you want this to be more frequent, try using the Pomodoro technique. With Pomodoro timers, you get to work for 25 minutes and do something else for 5 minutes. That way, you can refresh your mind and regain focus to boost productivity.
Over time, your workspace may become boring. However, work doesn’t only happen at your desk. Learn to switch areas to stay motivated and make work more fun. Instead of staying at your desk all day, try working in the basement or garden sometimes. To gain a whole new experience, you can find a coffee shop or coworking space around the neighborhood.
On some days, things can suddenly go wrong. You may lose network connection or electricity while you’re powering through a task. There are simply some issues that are beyond your control. All you can do is find a workaround that will work best for you. For times like this, ensure you have a go-to place with a reliable Internet connection.
At this point, you have all the tips necessary to survive remote work—at least for the initial week. Nonetheless, the transition can come with a mix of feelings. It can be flexible, puzzling, enjoyable, busy, and fulfilling—all at the same time. So, there’s no need to look for right or wrong ways to work remotely.
As you continue to work from home, watch out for the routines or processes that work best for you. If you’re more focused and productive in the mornings, stick with that. If noon or the evenings work best, don’t hesitate to try it out. What’s important is you’re accessible and you’re able to deliver within deadlines.