8 Ways to Be a More Productive Remote Worker
Remote work isn’t just lazing around in your pajamas and binge-watching your favorite shows. You must still analyze spreadsheets, crunch numbers, answer emails, and attend work meetings.
Unlike at the office, your boss isn’t there potentially looking over your shoulder to ensure you’re getting work done. Nor can you just pop in on colleagues to socialize in the break room. If you’re not careful, deadlines can slip, and feelings of isolation can set in.
You must set yourself up for success to stay productive and meet project deadlines. Whether you’re a digital nomad or plan to work from home exclusively, here are some remote work best practices to stay productive.
1. Stick to a Schedule
Remote work often allows us the flexibility and freedom to work whenever we want. However, even with work flexibility, you still should set yourself up for success by sticking to a regular schedule to ensure you stay on top of your workload.
But that schedule doesn’t have to be 9-to-5. If you’re a morning person, try clocking in a little early. Or, if you’re a night owl, start a little later. Ideally, you want to arrange your schedule to fit when you’re most productive.
Of course, one of the best things about flexible schedules is that you can make time to be with your family and friends. You can shift work around to be there for your kids’ ballet recitals or other key milestones. It may take trial and error, but set work hours that best fit your needs.
2. Remember to Take Breaks
While many employers are hesitant to let their team work remotely for fear of them slacking off, it turns out that the opposite is true.
Studies show that remote workers are more productive than their in-office peers. Once you get into a work routine, it’s easy to lose track of time. While it might work for meeting deadlines, it can put you on the fast track to burning out.
Remember to take breaks every hour or so for five to 10 minutes. Get up, stretch your legs, and take a mental break from work. You’ll return refreshed, renewed, and ready to tackle that report.
3. Stay Social
You would think that with all your free time, you would be fighting off lunch invitations and impromptu get-togethers. And that might be the case when you first start working from home.
But after a while, you’ll find that your family and friends—as well as you—will start treating your work-at-home job as if you were in a regular office and won’t bother you during work hours.
Since you’re working from home without colleagues to keep you company, it can get lonely. Make sure to stay social by scheduling lunch dates, taking a class, or even taking Fido for a run in the park. By being social, you’ll fight off any isolation that can come from working remotely.
4. Make Time for Exercise
As remote workers, we spend a lot of time sitting at desks. Staying physically active is vital to your overall well-being, but it’s easy to let exercise fall by the wayside. The American Heart Association recommends that adults exercise at least 30 minutes per day, five times a week.
Consider going for a jog, participating in a Zumba class, or walking your dog. Treat it like you would a work meeting—mark it in your calendar, and stick with it.
If you’re struggling to find time to exercise between juggling work and personal responsibilities, break it up into smaller, snack-size workouts during the day. Try a five-minute seated desk stretch or do chair yoga in your office every few hours. All of your efforts add up throughout the day to get you to that 30-minute exercise goal.
5. Invest in Your Equipment
When the pandemic started, you may have begun your work-from-home journey by making do with a kitchen chair and table as a workstation. Maybe you even have an old laptop from college. But sooner or later, you start developing horrible back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome, and your computer doesn’t have a reliable internet connection.
That’s why it’s essential to invest in good-quality equipment. Ergonomic desk chairs and a laptop with high-speed internet can boost your physical health and productivity while working at home.
And you don’t need to drain your bank account for good office equipment. Search for good sales on computers, monitors, or ergonomic desk chairs to make working remotely easier. Or, check if your company offers a stipend to purchase office equipment, like laptops, keyboards, or a standing desk.
6. Socialize With Your Colleagues
It’s easy to get stuck in the zone and lose contact with the outside world and your team. To stay connected with your team and your company, you’ll have to make an effort to keep in touch.
Most remote companies have various communication tools and programs (such as Sococo, Yammer, etc.) to give their remote workers a chance to connect on both a professional and a personal level. Be sure to take advantage of these so that you can forge a connection with your coworkers that goes beyond just work.
Take advantage of the opportunity if your company offers the chance to get together for annual retreats or offers to pay for get-togethers with workers who live near each other. Not only will you have the chance to make new friends, but you’ll strengthen your bonds with the company and each other.
7. Communicate Often
One of the biggest remote work best practices is to communicate clearly and often with your team. In the remote workplace, you have many tools to streamline communications, such as email, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack. Use these tools to collaborate on projects and get support when you need it.
Remember, a lot can get lost in translation without being face-to-face with your remote team. Your boss and coworkers aren’t mind-readers. Miscommunication can create confusion and hinder productivity. To avoid this, communicate often, organize team check-ins (if you’re a manager), and be clear.
8. Have a To-Do List
To-do lists can keep you on track far better than trying to remember everything you need to do during your day. It’ll help you prioritize tasks and stay on top of deadlines and meetings.
At the same time, don’t overload yourself with a dozen tasks, because you’ll only get frustrated when you’re unable to check everything off your list.
At the end of your workday, pick the top three things you’d like to get done tomorrow, and then write them down. Putting the most challenging item first ensures that you’ll get it done and will give you the momentum to get through the rest of your list.
Stay Productive While Working From Home
Working from home presents an opportunity to have a job that fits your life, not the other way around. By sticking to a schedule, communicating effectively, and taking breaks, you can be a successful and productive remote employee.
For more work-from-home advice, check out our articles on all things remote work.
By Jennifer Parris | Categories: Work Remotely
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Summer Glitter Weirich on August 03, 2016 at 11:07 pm
Thank you for this article! I have not been getting out of the house enough for exercise recently. Instead of Uber last night I rode my bike out to get pizza and beer for my (finally) dinner at 9pm! Staying social and being active are two things I need to focus on more often!
I enjoy cleaning while I am on longer phone calls with clients, this is helpful as it keeps my space and my brain organized!