It’s happening. In the recent times, tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Shopify and Coinbase have all announced that from here on out, they will be offering a large percentage (if not all) of their workforce the opportunity to work from home, indefinitely. As remote workers ourselves, we understand the need to constantly adapt our own mindsets in order to stay relevant and informed in this fast-paced race to a remote lifestyle.
Working from home brings with it a plethora of unique benefits that allow us to prioritize work-life balance, spend more time with family and enjoy a bit more of our day-to-day existence. But it comes with a new set of skills to learn. Being efficient and productive while working from home can be a challenge, so here we outline 10 of our most useful tips to allow you to maximize your productivity and efficiency from your new home office.
Some of these you may have heard before, and some are a little… weird.
Maintain Working Hours
It can be easy for new remote workers to revel in the fact that you don’t need to get up early and prepare for your annoying commute to work. At first, it’s a joyous relief, but over time this omittance of regularity can lead us to become a bit lackluster. We recommend setting regular working hours and sticking to them as much as humanly possible. Yes, big perk of working remotely is flexibility, but make sure you are staying disciplined and flexing that new flexibility wisely!
Create Your Space
Let yourself work from your bed for a few days, just for fun. You will realize very quickly that the idea of it is far more romantic than the act itself. Remote workers need a workspace that they can rely on when they get unfocused or demotivated. Like your old work office, personalize your space and make it comfortable. If you don’t have an appropriate area in your home, set one up at your local cafe or somewhere you won’t be yelled at when you stay for extended periods of time.
Set a Non-Work Routine
Just as important as regular working hours are regular non-work related activities to keep us balanced. Experiment with setting a morning routine. Meditate, exercise, write or mindfully make your coffee. Take time out of your day to focus on your well being, knowing that your work will have its turn to occupy your brain.
Stay Connected and Socialize
It’s often difficult to self-motivate, so make sure to reach out to colleagues, friends and mentors to stay productive. Schedule face-to-face time with other remote workers to bounce ideas around on your latest projects. Connect with your boss for needed clarifications. Not only will these interactions help you to stay on track, but clear communication is vital to a successful remote workflow.
Sounds a bit weird right? Even if you are working from home, you are still working. Be sure to take vacations from your job, shut the laptop, turn off the phone and prioritize space. When workers first go remote, it is not unusual for them to spend even more time thinking about work than when they were stationed in the office. All of a sudden they are constantly available and always connected, and in need of boundaries.
Focus On Your Tone of Voice
Remember when you had to discipline a subordinate in the office? You could sit down with them, face to face, hear their side of the story and resolve the conflict humanely. When the team is completely remote, much more communication is done through emails and messages, and it is important to craft a tone of voice that will leave less room for misinterpretation. Take your time in writing more weighted messages, and remember to think about what you type. If something really important has to be said, get on a Zoom chat to avoid any misunderstanding.
Make Your Bed and Get Dressed
It’s a cool idea to work in your sweatpants every day but trust us, it gets old. Make a habit of getting up in the morning, making your bed and tidying your space, and get dressed for the day. It will instil a sense of purpose and productivity from the get-go, and these actions perpetuate themselves. You can still be comfortable of course, just try and not sleep and work in the same clothes for extended periods of time.
Find Your Productivity
We all function slightly differently, and working remotely gives us an opportunity to find our optimal routine. While it can take a bit of time, with enough experimentation we can find certain times of the day when we are the most (or least) productive. If after a few months of playing around with your schedule you find you do your best work from 7 pm- 10 pm at night, then allow yourself to relax in the mornings. This type of flexibility is invaluable, especially for us night owls.
Eating, Not Working
While it may be tempting to eat on the go, try not to make a habit of it. Stop what you are doing, and eat. Who knows, you may find a whole new passion for enjoying the taste of food. Condition yourself to take planned and pure breaks from your work, and hold yourself accountable to them. The occasional mouthful of sushi mid writing groove is ok, but treat these as an exception, not the rule.
Try Something Weird, Experiment
Everybody’s brain works a bit differently, so don’t be afraid to experiment with some less than usual techniques to promote productivity. One of our favorites- have a mindless or monotonous TV or online program playing in the background. Nat Geo or the History Channel are both great options or even your favorite audiobook that you have listened to 100 times. Make it something that will not distract you but set you into a gentle and safe workflow.
Next time you feel yourself getting frustrated for not being productive enough, take a breath and commit to a few of these helpful tips. And remember, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s all about the process!