Everything you need to know about working remotely

Posted by: The Teamwork team /

For a lot of people, remote work is the norm. For those that are accustomed to it, working remotely can give you time to focus on specific tasks or catch up on things without the interruptions that can happen in a shared office space.

But if you’re not used to it, suddenly being asked to work remotely can feel a bit strange — and bring its own set of challenges. 

At Teamwork, we believe that it’s so important to empower workers to keep work going, wherever you are. 

We’ve been ardent supporters of working remotely since our earliest days, because we know that hiring remote workers means that you can attract the best talent from all over the world, give your team the flexibility they need to do great work (and have a proper work-life balance), and we believe that trusting your team is the key to success. And since we’ve been doing it for so long, we’ve learned a few things along the way.

So whether you work remotely every day or just when you need to, we’ve compiled some simple tips that can make working remotely easier for you.

Mastering the art of remote work

Bring your laptop home

If you’re regularly in an office space, get into the habit of bringing the equipment you need home with you each evening. As you finish up, remember to pack your laptop, charger, and anything else you might need, so you’ll be able to flexibly respond to any requirements to work from home. 

Set a start time and end time

When you’re working remotely, it’s easy for time to become a sort of amorphous blob. But to actually be productive, it’s essential to keep to a routine as much as possible. Setting a start time and an end time for your working day helps you to focus, adds structure, and ensures you don’t get so lost in a task that you end up overworking and burning out. (If you don’t already, this is a great time to start logging your time!)

Get up, dress up, and show up

Even though you might not be leaving the house, continue your morning routine as if you are. Get out of bed at the same time, shower, get dressed, have breakfast. While you might be out of your usual routine, this still allows you to control the things you can control — and it sets you up for the working day (and any surprise video calls with coworkers or clients).

Stay focused

Step away from the laundry (or, ahem, Netflix). Working outside of the office and away from your team can be a great opportunity to get through your workload, but it requires discipline. 

Making a task list of everything you need to achieve that day can help you to stay focused on your high-priority tasks and upcoming deadlines — and having a full record of what you’ve achieved that day will help you to stay accountable and motivated.

Noisy neighbours? Pets demanding cuddles? Different and exciting snack options? If you’re struggling to keep your focus when you’re surrounded by so many new distractions, check out these 7 ways to beat procrastination.

Don’t skip your breaks

Without set lunch times or coworkers to get a coffee with, it can be easy to look up and find that you’ve spent hours lost in a task. And while that kind of deep focus and productivity is great, taking breaks is just as essential when you’re working remotely as it is when you’re in the office. If you can, take a moment to walk around to block for some fresh air — and don’t forget to eat!

Stay connected

If you’re used to seeing people on a daily basis, remote work can make you feel isolated. Stay in contact with colleagues throughout the working day by using video chat, calls, or an instant messaging platform. Not only will it help you to ensure you’re still working together as a team and not becoming siloed, but it also helps to avoid the cabin fever that can settle in when you’re not used to working alone. 

“Start scheduling what I call virtual coffee syncs. These are 30-minute agenda-less meetings that make up for the time you miss seeing and chatting to people at lunch or at the watercooler.”

— Ryan Mesches, Partner Lead

(Read more of Ryan’s tips for remote managers and workers here.)

How we keep work going remotely

Whether you’re a project manager, a team lead, or a team member, here are some other posts on remote working that you might find helpful.

Teamwork’s Partner Lead Ryan Mesches talks about the 3 things you need for successful remote work — and how you can action them as a manager or a team member.

5 ways to keep your remote project team on track (even if you’re not a project manager).

What are your best tips for working remotely? Let us know in the comments or use the hashtag #keepworkgoing on social media to share your tips with other Teamworkers.

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2 Comments

joe

If you have kids, designate an area of your home as office and make it off limits during work hours. And stress with family/relatives that working from home is in no way a form of holiday, so limit interruptions the same way you would if you were in the office.

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David

This is a good set of tips – a few others, given I’ve been doing remote working for about 4-5 years now.

1) Setup a dedicated work environment. Much like Joe mentioned – but a bit more than just a home office. Try to limit your activities in that space to just work (e.g. watch netflix in the living room, not in the comptuer/study room).

2) Utilize the rest of your house to “spice things up”. During the Quarantine especially, I miss going to coffee shops and all. Work outside, work at another table, pack up a charger and work at a park, etc. Variety can really help in specific types of tasks.

3) If you use shared computing resources (personal computer for work purposes, like I do):
3a) Setup dedicated browser profiles for work vs home
3b) Consider using virtual machines, or dual booting, for work purposes. This can help with the interruptions and temptations to browse reddit/etc.
3c) Set firewalls and content filters if there’s a problem with staying effective.

As was mentioned in the article, consistent breaks are very useful. Consider using the Pomodoro technique as a baseline, as it can really help out. But it’s important to get up and walk about.

Another tip too – keep up on side activities, exercise, and the like. One negative of working from home is your overall activity may drop like a rock. You’re not moving around as much, and have an overall smaller space. Walks to get coffee, walks to get lunch, etc no longer really exist. So, make an effort to build in activity. Personally, I keep kettle bells near my workspace. During some breaks, I get up and do some swings. I walk up and down the stairs, etc. It’s good for your morale, and wakes you up.

Another tip as well – and that’s on organization. Working at home is great for people who are extremely organized. Getting in the habits of making lists is good, but even more – prioritize and take notes on tasks you do. Your goal is to keep yourself accountable for the work you’re doing. Keeping notes and essentially logs helps remove doubt if your boss asks “What are you doing?” or “What did you do yesterday”.

After awhile, working from home is a lot more efficient than working in the office. I know for myself, my performance has a measurable increase from working in the office. So much that I’ve been allowed to work from home 100% of the time, on my own hours, and where I want to work. Being transparent, accountable for your performance, and so on goes a long ways to help.

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