In this age of the evolved workplace, it feels like more and more companies are allowing or embracing remote work for their employees. In fact, 24% of employed people did some or all of their work at home in 2015, and the trend has only increased since then. Fans of remote work know that it not only drives down real estate costs and utilities; it has also been shown to improve productivity and morale while reducing employee turnover.
But working remotely can be challenging. As someone who has done it for several years, I’ve stumbled upon habits that promote and detract from accomplishing great work at home. I’ve pulled together my learnings here, so you can skip the trial and error!
1. Have a Routine
Just because you can stay in your PJs doesn’t mean you should. Mirror the morning process you had when you went into the office. Whether that means getting up and going to the gym or just showering and getting dressed, mimic your routine in order to get fully into the “work” mindset. For me, it means putting on real clothes and makeup, making coffee and breakfast and bringing my full (caffeinated) self to work.
2. Don’t Mix Your Work Space with Your Personal Space
Identify a dedicated “work space” so that your personal and professional time and space don’t blur. For many of us, having a separate office is out of the question, but even identifying a certain part of the kitchen table to work at (or ideally getting a desk) can help create limits. Just make sure to stay off the couch and out of bed. You don’t sleep at your desk at work, so don’t work in your sleep space.
If possible, also draw a line between your use of your work computer and a personal computer/tablet, that way you don’t find yourself working across devices (and well past working hours).
Getting exercise is so crucial. I didn’t realize until I began remote work how much my commute to the office had forced me to get my body moving each day. With no commute time wasted, either take time before work to go for a walk, or go mid-day when others might be taking lunch. I personally found that joining a gym was ideal, and going right after work (when I would be commuting home) was a great time to get moving.
4. Expand Your Communication Efforts
Set up video chats whenever possible. Phone calls often work fine for one-on-one conversations, but having a visual of your clients or colleagues lets you play off their body language and expressions as you would if you were together in a room.
If video isn’t possible, don’t shy away from interjecting to ask questions. It can be difficult to ‘read’ the room through a phone and you may cut someone off, but the people in the room often want to hear from you (but shy away from putting you on the spot).
Digitally, get on Slack or Skype for Business (and convince your coworkers to join you!). These kinds of platforms are great for casual questions and one-offs, and the socializing that often takes place in threads will keep you feeling clued in to what’s happening at the office and with your peers.
5. Celebrate Your Accomplishments
When you’re away from the office but have a big win, find a way to take a moment and enjoy it.
Ultimately, remote work changes just as office work does. A routine that feels great in summer may feel isolating in winter. I’m always looking for new ways to feel plugged in (and unplugged!) at the right times. Do you have any great recommendations for how you work from home? I’ve love to hear in the comments!