Many people who have not experienced teleworking think that it means spending all morning in bed, lounging in your pajamas and watching Netflix every time you have some free time, but the reality is quite different. Working from home (or from any other place other than an office) brings enormous benefits for both employees and their employers, but it’s a delicate balancing act that must be handled with care. Here are some tips for working remotely and balancing it with your personal life to make you happier and healthier.
Working remotely is becoming more and more commonplace
Working remotely has become increasingly popular during the last 10 years, but 2020 has made it prevalent throughout the world. The latest IWG Global Workplace survey found that more than half of the surveyed workers spend half or more of their time away from their office. The United Kingdom is paving the way for remote work, with 68% of companies surveyed having a flexible working policy.
Remote work sounds like a win for everyone involved. It brings great advantages for companies, as they attract talent and save on office space. Also, 85% of companies believe that a flexible working structure increases their productivity. In turn, employees have the opportunity to adapt their work to their lifestyle and avoid lengthy commutes. There are even environmental benefits. Less commuting (by car or public transport) means less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. However, working outside a regular office environment is not as easy as it might seem. The following are some rules that when observed make working from home much easier. So read these tips for working remotely:
Have a specific reserved workspace
According to a recent study, 84% of remote workers work mainly from home, while others visit coworking centers (8%), cafes (4%), and libraries (0.5%). However, just plopping your laptop on the dining table is not an ideal scenario. Too many things can distract you, from washing dishes to making snacks for other household members. That is why 72% of recently interviewed workers adapt their space to their working needs. Make sure your home office is, if possible, in a quiet room to create an “à la office” feeling. Also, keep in mind that a clean desk equals a clear mind, so tidy your space regularly and try to never leave a mess.
As one of the tips for working remotely, how to stop distracting yourself is really important. It is hard to focus on work when no one is watching over you. Juliana is in charge of developing a charity business and divides her time between working from home and commuting for meetings and events. She, too, admits that it is sometimes tricky. She claims that “it takes discipline. It’s hard to disconnect from your phone and things like that when no one is standing over you and controlling you.” But Sandra, a statistician and data analyst, is of a different opinion. Working in the office distracts her much more than working from home. “I couldn’t concentrate in the office in my last job. Everyone is discussing the new series on Netflix while I go through the numbers and make reports. It distracts me.” says Sandra. This is why we have some suggestions to keep your mind focused when working from home:
Cut yourself off from social networks
One way you can improve your concentration is to make it harder for you to access social networks. Change your mobile and computer settings so that you have to sign in again each time you visit. At the same time, switch your private phone to silent mode.
Take regular breaks
Another way to improve your concentration is a system of regular breaks and rewards. If you worked in an office, you would go for coffee or chat with a colleague. You can emulate this at home by taking breaks at regular intervals and rewarding yourself every once in a while for a job well done.
Create a to-do list
Make a to-do list to set challenging but achievable goals for each day. If you have trouble concentrating, there is nothing better than the slight stress than a to-do list induces. Keep in mind though, that your to-do list should be flexible and if you are finding it to be a hindrance instead of a helpful tool, tune your list-making skills so that your next one is achievable and helpful.
Follow a schedule
Having a regular schedule for your days is crucial to avoid distractions and increase productivity. As one of the tips for working remotely, plan your day and set aside time blocks for various tasks, similar to planning a meeting. Vary your tasks and mix high-demand activities with some simpler ones so that you don’t get easily stuck. Set challenging but achievable goals every day. Try to make your schedule as similar as possible as if you were working in the office.
Adapt your work to your lifestyle to working remotely
The most significant advantage of working remotely is the flexibility it allows. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do you want to combine work with childcare or go to the gym in the meantime? Everything is possible, but it will not work without a good dose of organization. Juliana claims: “You increase your productivity by determining the time of day when your productivity is highest, and then you use that time. One of the advantages of working from home is flexibility, so use it to your advantage.”
Amy, who works for a large company providing professional services, adores flexibility. “Some days, I work classically from nine to five, but I often start working before the children wake up. I am happy to run around during lunch, take the children to school and then pick them up after work. I have time to attend parent meetings, open classes and similar events. I’m also glad I don’t have to commute anywhere. I save almost two hours a day by working from home.”
Use the right technologies
There is no way, that we wouldn’t include technology as one of the tips for working remotely. As a recent study shows, one in ten employees doing home office is facing technical problems. This can be a potential problem if there is no aid at the end of the hall to resurrect your computer. Sandra tells from experience: “If something doesn’t work for you or your VPN connection disconnects, it can be stressful.” Always make sure you’re connected to a strong Wi-Fi network or opt for a wired connection. Also, always make sure that you back-up your data as regularly as possible.
Also, your home connection will be less secure than your corporate network. Many companies require their workers to connect via a VPN connection to ensure their data’s privacy and security. Corporate laptops normally have everything you need, but if you are using your own computer, you will have to install a firewall, an antivirus and manage all technical aspects in general.
Do not isolate yourself while working remotely
When office colleagues do not surround you while you work, you can start to feel alone. To avoid this, divide the day into blocks and regularly report to your team or leader. Amy admits that the lack of social interaction does not suit her very well.
“Try spending a few minutes every day making regular conversations with colleagues. You can use chat or other social applications to stay in touch with other team members.”
Know when to shut down
Working from home blurs the line between your personal and professional lives. Suddenly, you start working into the night, checking emails on Saturdays, and working for more hours than you have in your contract. Recent research has revealed that the biggest problem among remote workers is that 22% do not know how to quit. “The flexibility that this style of work brings is great, but sometimes it can be challenging to take an evening or a weekend off. I try, although not always successfully, not to check my company mobile phone outside working hours and to turn off and hide the computer at the end of the working day,” says Amy.
Conclusion on working remotely
Teleworking is seen as an excellent opportunity by over 99% of the digital nomads that we surveyed recently; and they say they would like to continue working remotely for the rest of their working lives. However, whether you work from home or go to the office, your job remains the same, so pay due attention to it. Practice discipline, be organized, maintain your professionalism and, yes, please change your pajamas in the morning for some regular clothes.