The growing trend of working remotely has seen many employees offered the opportunity to work outside of a traditional office, in either a full or part time capacity. A remote workforce has a number of advantages for employers, including drastically reducing their office overheads, and it also has great appeal for employees who don’t have to face the daily commute while being able to choose how, when and where they work.
But remote working isn’t for everyone. It takes a particular kind of person to do it successfully; someone who can work unsupervised and who can draw on their own motivation to get the job done. And even with the right people in place, it’s important to have rules to make sure your remote workforce remains focused and productive.
With that in mind, here are 10 tips for working remotely that every employee, employer and freelancer should know.
Have a dedicated work space
Because you are working remotely, there can be a temptation to just plonk your laptop on the kitchen table and work there while family life goes on around you. Unfortunately, this is rarely successful as there are far too many distractions that will eat into your day. To work productively, you need a dedicated space which is used for nothing but work. This would sometimes be a spare room which you could turn into a home office, but a more preferable option would be to choose leasing a workstation from a service provider such as Nexus Hub.
Work your way
In a normal office environment workers must all use the same processes, but when you work remotely you have the opportunity to work the way that suits you best. This could mean you work primarily in the mornings or evenings rather than the standard nine to five, with headphones on to play the radio in the background, or whatever else helps you to be productive and get the job done. Providing you are available for customers and colleagues when needed, your way of working is up to you.
Dress for the part
Although it may be tempting to stay in casual clothes all day because you are not directly client-facing when either working from home or in a coworking space, it is important that you dress for the job. Putting on your work outfit sends a signal to your brain that it’s time to work rather than relax, and will make you more productive than you would be in your casual. It is also a good idea to be suitably dressed if there is a chance you will be video conferencing or networking with other professionals at any time during the day.
Stay in touch
When you work remotely, you may find yourself becoming a bit of a hermit, so you or your employer should have processes in place to prevent this from happening. These should involve regular communication with your work colleagues, so they can be kept up to speed with what you are doing and you can stay in the loop with what’s happening at the office.
This is where coworking spaces become more valuable – the social aspect of going to an office each day is great for both a mental health and productivity level.
Because your communications with clients and colleagues tend to be other than face-to-face when you work remotely, it is very important that you communicate clearly at all times. Email and SMS messages can easily be misinterpreted due to our inability to read their tone. So ideally use the phone to communicate as much as possible, particularly if the content of a message is sensitive, confusing or open to misinterpretation.
Take a break
When you work in a regular office, coffee and lunch breaks are observed at the same time every day and provide a welcome opportunity to get away from your desk. When you are responsible for scheduling your own breaks, it is easy to lose track of time and rarely get up from your desk during the day. This is not healthy either physically or mentally, and you should schedule regular breaks into your work day to ensure you don’t burn yourself out.
Set office hours
Even if you don’t work nine to five, make sure you only work a set number of hours per day. Otherwise if you don’t have a clear start and knock off time, you could find yourself working all hours of the day and night. And while that might be good for productivity, it will almost certainly lead to burnout as well.
Get some exercise
In a regular office job, you are up and down all day, running for buses and trains, attending meetings and ducking out for lunches. In contrast, working in a coworking space can be something of a sedentary existence because your commute consists of only travelling to and from your coworking office space. To stay healthy, do some exercise every day, whether it’s going for a walk at lunch time or opting to do work at a standing desk for a few hours.
Take advantage of technology
Mobile technology offers a huge range of tools and resources that are ideal for working remotely. Whether you work for yourself or you have a remote workforce, be sure to take advantage of things like VoIP smartphone call routing systems, video and telephone conferencing and online live staff chat portals to make communicating easier wherever you are.
Change your workplace
Finally, remember that working remotely doesn’t necessarily mean working at home. If you are one of those people who works better in the company of others, modern technology now makes it possible for you to work anywhere you can find an Internet connection. This might be your favourite wifi hotspot in the park, a café, a library or, as many sole operators are starting to embrace, a collaborative corporate workspace where you can work independently amongst like-minded people and share state of the art facilities and resources.