No matter if you work in a traditional office or from your home office, you want to be the best employee possible. But if you thought that you could apply your office work practices to your remote job, think again. Being a better remote worker sometimes requires a different approach.
Working remotely calls for a different style of working, incorporating various techniques in order to be successful. In “On Working From Home, Better,” Remote.co partner company Balsamiq details what it takes in order to work from home successfully. We’ve cherry-picked some of their top tips—and added some of our own, too.
If you want to be a better remote worker, these 10 tips just might do the trick:
1. Forget about your former (office) life.
Admit it. When you worked in an office, there were days when you tried to look like you were working, but you were really just sleeping with your eyes open. When you work remotely, you don’t have to worry about impressing your boss with your presence. (You do need to impress him with your work, though.)
So if you want to start your workday at 7:00 a.m. so that you can get to your doctor’s appointment at 9:30 a.m., you can. You can also eat lunch at 11:00 a.m. or 4:00 in the afternoon if you want. Point is, you don’t have to follow a traditional office workday in order to be a better remote worker. You simply have to get your work done and take care of yourself and your family’s needs, too. After all, that’s the point of having a remote job.
2. Go with the flow.
You might be the kind of person who gets their best work done at 10:00 p.m. That doesn’t really work out well if you have an office job, though. Or you might wake up first thing in the morning ready to crank out that presentation you’ve been assigned. It’s important to work with your body’s natural rhythm in order to maximize your productivity—working against it will only work against you—and get your work done well.
3. Bust a move.
When you work remotely, it’s super easy to let the hours slip by. That might be fab for your productivity, but for your health? Not so much. So make it a point to work some physical exercise in during your workday. While you could opt to schedule in a 45-minute workout, it’s actually better for your health to get short bursts of activity sprinkled throughout your day. For starters, make sure that you get up at least every half hour or so to stretch your legs or take a walk around the block. Your body will thank you for it.
4. Separate work life from home life.
Although not having to commute into an office each and every day is one of the many benefits of remote work, there is a downside to having your work life take up residence at your, well, residence. That’s why many remote workers have a hard time shutting off work, since the office is only steps away from your kitchen, living room, and bedroom. So try to not let work seep into your life after you’re done for the day. Or if it works for you, try to keep normal working hours, and stick to them. But your best bet is to turn off your computer at night—and stop checking email when you’re off the clock.
5. Be realistic.
Remember how many times you sat in front of your computer screen at work and did absolutely nothing all day? Truth be told, you might have similar days working from home, too. Realize that some days you will be super productive—and other days maybe not as much. Just know how to get yourself out of it—you have deadlines and work to do, after all! And if you have a day when things just aren’t going right, promise yourself to make up for it the next day by starting earlier or not checking Facebook until you’re done for the day.
6. Be social.
Like many remote workers, you might have chosen to work from home so you could avoid office drama and distractions, allowing you to focus solely on your work. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t interact with others, particularly those on your remote team. Many remote companies offer ways in which workers can stay connected to each other—both for work purposes as well as for play. Balsamiq uses HipChat, monthly video calls, and local get-togethers for people who are near each other, along with annual retreats to keep employees connected. Even if you prefer to work alone, try to make an effort to be social with your colleagues. It can help strengthen your team, and you just might make a friend at work—even if they live halfway around the world!
7. Limit distractions.
Finding your focus can be a challenge when you work remotely. After all, all the creature comforts of home are right there—like last night’s leftovers, your couch, and an entire season of This Is Us just waiting for you. So even if you feel like having the TV on for background noise, it can be easy to get distracted, and not get your work done. One of the best ways to limit distractions is by setting up a separate space to work from, whether it’s a room, a closet, or even a nook off your breakfast nook. Having a home office (no matter what you choose) can help you feel like you’re working in a real office—and not just from home.
8. Find meaning in your work.
Even if you chose remote work to get away from gossiping coworkers and a micromanaging boss, you might sometimes find yourself feeling a little lonely working all by yourself. That’s why it’s important to have not only a connection to your fellow remote workers and your boss, but a connection to your work as well. Find work that speaks to you, or a company that you’re proud to be affiliated with. After all, if you love what you do, you’ll be a more productive (and happier) remote worker.
9. Stick to your schedule.
Studies have shown that remote workers tend to work more than their in-office peers. Thing is, the point of remote work is to breathe more time and space into your schedule—not less. So even though you can work longer hours since you’re not stuck telecommuting, that doesn’t mean that you should. Try to maintain the same schedule each day (but allow room for flexibility as you need it), so that you don’t find yourself working all the time.
10. Tap into your other talents.
Let’s say that you were hired to handle customer care—but you’re also an amazing artist. Talk to your boss and let him know about some of your other passions and how you might like to contribute them to the company. Your extracurricular talents could potentially be incorporated into your job or elsewhere within the company—and possibly garner you some extra padding in your paycheck!
Originally published October 19, 2015. Updated December 8, 2017.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com