How to Work Remotely: Tips and Tools
Flexibility is a key factor for many when searching for a job, especially in today's complex environment. To attract and retain top talent, many companies now allow employees to work outside of the office. Remote work is a growing trend and is quickly becoming the new normal, with nearly five million people working off-site.
This arrangement is more than just good for the staff. Employees report less stress and increased job satisfaction, which translates into higher productivity. However, doing your job at a distance can present some unique challenges. To help you adapt, we've put together some tips for working remotely.
How to Be a Successful Remote Employee
Having the ability to work from home requires more creativity, self-awareness, and self-discipline than a traditional office role. By experimenting with your location and behavior, you can learn how to strike a balance between your own comfort and your employer's expectations.
Understand the Way You Work
Reflecting on your habits and preferences is one of the first things you should do when figuring out how to successfully work from home. Knowing how you approach problems and complete assignments can give you some important clues. Think about what helps you concentrate, manage priorities and stay on-task.
Are you highly organized and prefer a sense of stability? If so, having a dedicated workspace might be the best choice. Others who thrive on connection and teamwork could feel more comfortable in a shared area or somewhere where it's easy to collaborate over the phone or on a video call.
If you're goal-oriented, consider whether you need visual cues like a bulletin or whiteboard to track your progress. Like to take risks and experience new challenges? Maybe switching up your setting will keep you feeling fresh and focused. Get familiar with what motivates you and use that as a starting point.
For remote employees, regular communication with your supervisor and coworkers is vital. Be sure to send progress reports and updates on completed tasks. Email is ideal for sharing details with several people and provides a record of each conversation for reference. Of course, sometimes a phone call is the fastest route to solve a problem.
Since employees are in multiple locations, it's important to put in extra effort to build and maintain professional relationships. Make sure your team knows how to contact you and don't hesitate to reach out to others for help or resources. Ask for feedback so you know what needs improvement and take the time to acknowledge and celebrate successes, including your own.
Choose a Workspace
Where you spend each day can have a huge impact on how productive you are. People respond differently to their work environments based on varying levels of noise, traffic and other disruptors. Take your needs into account so that you can plan accordingly for minimal distractions.
Think about the amount of privacy you require to do your job effectively. Those that handle confidential information may want to work in a more secluded area. If you need silence to concentrate, a quiet spot in the library might be a better choice than a loud, crowded coffee shop. You may find that your home offers you the most control over these factors.
In order to make your home office work for you, it may be necessary to make a few other adjustments. If you have children, you might need a separate room with a door that locks. On the other hand, if you're using the dining room table or a corner of the den, you may need to find additional storage to keep important materials organized.
One of the most important tips for working from home is to schedule time throughout the day to eat meals and move around. Regular breaks provide a chance to stretch your muscles and step away from the screen, which can reduce eye strain and muscle stiffness.
Sometimes the line between office hours and personal time can become blurred when working remotely. At the end of your shift, you should shut down your workstation, walk away and resist the urge to check email or finish your current project until the next day. Maintaining a balance helps you avoid burnout and improves productivity when you are working.
How to Set Up Work from Home
Before you begin working remotely, there are a few things you can do to smooth the transition. By preparing ahead of time, you can make sure you have everything you need to get more accomplished. Although there are countless ways to personalize your space, here are the basics you'll need when setting up your home office.
Upgrade or Invest in Technology
Most remote employees use a computer to complete their daily tasks, so a strong internet connection is a must. If you're sharing the Wi-Fi, make sure you have enough bandwidth to accommodate everybody's device. If your browser is slow to load, you may need to contact your service provider for assistance.
Other accessories are also convenient to have when working remotely. A wireless mouse and keyboard allow you to avoid the hassle and clutter of cords. Noise-canceling headphones can also come in handy for drowning out distracting sounds so that you can focus more easily.
Furnishing Your Remote Space
When choosing furniture, consider the layout of the room, your organizational needs and comfort. Because you will use these pieces often, you should buy the highest quality ergonomic designs your budget will allow. Home office shelving, cabinets and desks are available in a wide array of styles so you can customize the room to fit your tastes.
Picking a desk is a great place to start when shopping for your office. To prevent pain from slouching and poor posture, be sure to pick a desk height that fits your body. If you prefer to stand periodically throughout the day, opt for a taller or convertible style. Also, consider how much surface area you need to complete tasks. Look for a small desk if your work space will be tucked into the corner of another room, but look for a roomy executive desk or spacious corner desk if you will have a stand-alone home office.
A comfortable seat is another essential for remote work. For the best ergonomics, select a model with adjustable armrests and lumbar support. This can help minimize pain in your shoulders, neck and back. Find a size that allows your feet to rest flat on the floor when sitting. If you need more flexibility, office chairs that swivel or recline are another useful option.
Other factors to consider when setting up a home office include storage and lighting. Floor and desk lamps make it easier to see small details close up and reduce eye-strain. Meanwhile, bookshelves and filing cabinets keep files and supplies organized and accessible, which can increase your efficiency.
Get to Work
Hopefully, these tips and tools for working remotely will help you have a positive experience. Stay connected with your coworkers and supervisors with frequent communication, but make sure to give yourself space during off-hours, too.
Remember to take time to adjust and reflect on what you need to have a well-functioning workspace. With a little ingenuity and a lot of patience, you'll quickly learn how to be a successful remote employee.