Millions of people work remotely, whether it be their home office, the local coffee shop, or a coworking community space. However, just because people are doing it, doesn’t mean they’re successful when they work remotely. Some employees, as hard as they may try, just can’t seem to be as productive as they are when they are back in the workplace office.
There can be a lot going on, especially at the home office: too many distractions around the house (hello, piles of laundry!), feeling disconnected from your team, or letting fifteen minutes here and there rob you of hours you could be checking tasks off your list.
Just because you’re struggling to be successful, doesn’t mean you won’t ever find your groove. Personally speaking, it’s taken me weeks when I started (lots of years ago) to find my stride, but now that I’ve hit it, I’m operating like a well oiled machine!
So, what are the things you can do to facilitate success with working remotely?
Here are 5 Tips that have worked for me:
- Work with Leadership. One of the best steps you can take to make your remote working environment more productive actually has nothing to do with your space at all. Working with your leadership is a great first step to making sure you are on the right path for success. Whether this means communicating your need for feedback weekly instead of twice a month, or the ability to block time off on your calendar (more on that later), you will want to be on the same page. Be open and tell your manager if you’re having struggles with your current environment. They may be able to work with you in resolving whatever issues that seem to be holding you back.
- Make sure your Goals are Aligned. Ensuring you are on the same page as your teammates and manager is crucial to making your remote work situation successful, as well. You want to make sure you work with your boss so that your goals are aligned, and both of you understand what the other needs. There is nothing worse than thinking you’re doing great on a project, only to find out your manager was hoping that you would have been further along by now, or that the end goal has changed and you were made unaware. The same thing goes for your coworkers, especially if you’re working in tandem, with pieces that remain dependent on each other. Making sure that everyone knows what is expected will reduce your stress, and help you make every minute count.
- Minimize Distractions. One minute, you’re typing away, knocking out one “to-do” after another, and then you feel a “boop” on your leg from someone’s nose. It may be a dog’s or a child’s, but someone needs attention. As soon as you lose focus, it’s so much harder to gain it back, again. Obviously, there are some things that can’t be helped, but if you really took an inventory of your work this week, how many distractions did you let pull you away? It’s easy to let a quick check of the news cycle turn into 20 minutes of celebrity gossip and the latest promotional email about another sale from a retailer. Make sure you identify what your distractions are, and try to minimize the parts of working remotely that encourage those. If walking by the television pulls you away, make sure you have a (healthy) snack on hand with enough water and coffee to hold you in your workspace for a few hours. Block apps on your phone, and close out any browser windows that aren’t work related. When lunch rolls around, indulge yourself during your break, and then get back to it!
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. This seems obvious, but communicating frequently and efficiently can really make a difference in getting the most out of working remotely. Did you take care of a task? Make sure it’s documented. Did you need to schedule a meeting? Put it on the calendar and invite everyone that needs to attend. Have questions that have you at a grinding halt? Bring it up in an email or schedule a quick chat with whomever can assist you in moving it along. The point is, whatever you do, don’t just let things hold you back until you find yourself twiddling your thumbs not quite sure what to do next. Let those who can help know, and then keep on rolling along!
- Schedule your Day effectively. One thing I’ve tried that works for me is to make a schedule during the week of how I would like each day to go. If I know I have an assignment I need to give a few hours to, well, down on my calendar it goes. Likewise, I know that I’m more energized earlier in my day, and I’ve found that getting up two hours earlier than usual adds a tremendous amount of productivity. It’s almost like I can plow through it twice as fast, somehow. Experiment to see what works for you, then stick to it as much as possible.
If you’re having a difficult time really nailing what works the best for you, don’t give up. It takes time, and communication, especially with your manager, on how you can best facilitate success.
Don’t worry – you’ll hit your stride before you know it, and may find that remote work is the better option for you!