Working from home is many professionals’ dream. Whether your job demands a tedious one-hour commute into the city or you have kiddos, working from home has its benefits. However, telecommuting also presents its fair share of challenges.
Here at ROI Online, we have one full-time telecommuter: me, ROI's Content Lead, in Denver, Colorado.
You’ve probably already devoured dozens of online articles detailing how to successfully work from home, but I'm here to provide you with 11 insider tips as well as hitches I’ve personally encountered, and how to proactively solve them.
How To Make Working Remotely A Success
1. Get ready for the day like you are headed to work.
Morning rituals help you get in the mindset that it’s time to work. For remote professionals, it’s challenging to differentiate the two. While you don’t need to put on a suit and tie or a full face of makeup, we recommend at least getting out of your pajamas and brushing your teeth. Your co-workers and clients may not be able to see (or smell) you every day, but trust us, seizing the day will keep you motivated and alert.
2. Make to-do list goals.
Working from home has plenty of benefits, but one disadvantage is you miss out on direct interaction with your co-workers throughout the day. It’s amazing what some good ole cooler talk can do for your mental health! Make a list of tasks you want to complete before you grab a snack, toss in a load of laundry or creep on social media. Think of them as little rewards for working hard. This will help you stay productive and sane.
3. Become a phenomenal communicator.
Working outside of the office away from your colleagues can definitely cripple the line of communication. Make sure you are constantly communicating to ensure everyone is on the same page. We’ll even go as far to say over-communicate. Send emails and messages whenever you have a question, idea or suggestion. If you’ve completed a task or need to update someone on your work, use a project management tool, such as Basecamp or Trello. These efficient online tools keep everyone apprised of your work. The worst thing you can do is assume, which could result in a missed deadline or meeting.
4. Create a dedicated office space.
Your bed and food tray are not a chair and desk. Make an actual office area with a desk, chair, computer, printer, etc. The best thing about having a home office is you can decorate it however you like! Show off your personality and make it a space that inspires creativity and productivity.
5. Take a break.
Working remotely doesn’t mean you have to work 9-5 with no break. Yes, you’ll probably be getting up more often, walking around and loading the dishwasher, but still take a break. You ARE working, just like everyone else! Otherwise, you will overwork yourself. Go for a 30-minute walk while everyone in the office is at lunch, or go to a workout class or catch up on your favorite TV show.
As we've said before, the office is one of the best places for socialization, and working remotely means you miss out on that. So go out and network. Make friends by joining professional groups and taking part in hobbyist activities. To find professional organizations relevant to you, visit your city's website, browse LinkedIn and Facebook, and just ask around. Even sign up for a continuing education class at a local college or check out social connection sites, like City Socializer or Meetup. Sure, it can be scary meeting new people, but not as scary as the lonely hot mess you will turn into if you don't.
7. Switch up the environment.
One of greatest perks of working remotely is you can work anywhere! Take your computer to a local coffee shop, park or a cute cafe for a change of scenery and human interaction. Cabin fever can be fatal! Just don't go to a bar and drink (too much) on the job.
8. Ensure quality communication.
In addition to making sure you are on the same page as your co-workers and customers, it’s important to have a good sound system in place for meetings. As a remote worker, most of your meetings will take place via conference call or video call. Get noise-canceling headphones if you have chatty dogs at home or quality headphones that cut down on echoes and feedback. This directly ties into #3 and #4.
9. Speak up.
When you aren’t physically present, it’s easy to get overlooked or forgotten. Make sure your voice is heard by speaking up and joining the conversation. Just be sure to not interrupt your colleagues and clients.
10. Stay on course.
When you work in the comforts of your own home, distractions can quickly sidetrack you from your task. Sure, you can spend a little extra time making a healthy lunch, but don’t let procrastination get the best of you. Set deadlines and meet them. Read emails and respond in a timely manner.
11. Use an organizational tool like Milanote
If you work in a creative field such as writing, graphic design, or social media management, you know how easy it is to lose focus. Writer's block. Distractions. Whatever you call it, we all know how it goes: You work hard non-stop for hours. Then, suddenly, your inspiration runs dry.
Keeping all of your thoughts and inspiration in one place is a great way to maintain focus and prevent your creative juices from drying out. One great option is Milanote. With this digital platform, you can:
- Write notes and todos
- Upload images and files
- Save text, images, and links from the web
- Add notes and photos directly from your home
Uber and Chanel are just a few of the big-name brands that use Milanote to stay on track.
Telecommuting Is On The Rise
In our line of work, telecommuting is fairly common, but for other businesses, working remotely may seem like a foreign concept. However, it is becoming more and more accepted in our technology-dependent society.
Before COVID-19 hit, 7 million people were already telecommuting. Then state lockdowns happened. Businesses that weren't a fan of remote work had to adapt to survive. And adapt they did! One study showed that during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, 80% of business owners planned to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time after the lockdown ended, and 47% will allow employees to work from home full-time
Whether you are loving working from home or are going a bit stir-crazy, these 10 pointers will help you remain productive and happy.
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