Whether by choice, chance or circumstance, remote work is a fantastic opportunity that comes with many advantages, but only if you know how to manage them.
I’ve been a remote worker for almost five years and I would like to share a few of the remote work tips I have learned to be more successful.
Remote Work Tip #1. Limit Your Workplace in Space and Time
If you can afford it, have a separate office space. You can use a study, office or any room, the idea here is to allocate a space exclusively for work.
If you are interrupted with your kids, TV or noisy roommates, all the time saved from not commuting to work will be lost on trying to regain your focus. So find a quiet room, help your brain recognize it’s time to work.
Make sure the room is kept tidy (as a normal office space should be). Often, keeping my office is the last thing on my mind when looking at the ever increasing to-do list. But a clean desk increase efficiency, reduces stress and helps you get into the deep work zone.
While working remotely provides great flexibility, it is double-edged sword: The more flexible your schedule, the more diligent you need to be about finding your own structure and setting boundaries for yourself where you need them. You need to know what time do you work best, how does your remote team work and set clear work hours.
Remote Work Tip #2.Communicate Better with One on One Meetings
Even when you can meet in person, employee and team dynamics are complicated, . But when you’re working remotely, manager-employee relationships can suffer and may call for a new approach.
The closest you can get to a face-to-face connection is video. Video conferencing makes it easier to pick up on those verbal cues that lead to deeper conversations and stronger relationships.
Another item on the remote work tips is to increase the meeting frequency. It’s better to address teammates concerns earlier and check on goals to see where they need support. So double your meeting frequency even if you have to cut the meeting time in half.
It goes without saying that the same rules of ‘real world’ meetings still apply:
- Respect the meeting time
- Have a clear meeting agenda
- Encourage everyone to come prepared
- End with clear next steps
- Follow up with notes
Remote Work Tip #3. Have a Daily/Weekly Plan
Nothing new here, we all need a way to focus and organize what’s getting done, by who, and when.
Making this a routine makes work flow better and more efficiently.
A few years ago, Garry Keller outlined in his great book “The One Thing” some basic principles of weekly planning.
A short time later a Google employee made a video breaking down a week day by day in terms of where people’s energies should reside, and it’s a helpful way of looking at a weekly schedule or work plan at the employee level.
Here are a few takeaways:
Schedule your planning: Block out 10 minutes every afternoon to do this exercise and focus on what’s vital
Block Time on your Calendar: Time blocking simply means planning out your day in advance and dedicating specific hours to accomplish specific tasks. Doing this requires determining in advance what you will accomplish and exactly when you will accomplish it. Once you have those in mind, enter these into your calendar and then get to work on those tasks at the appropriate time during the day.
Use a Pomodoro timer: Break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros. After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.
Prioritize your Tasks and focus on the top three items that will make the rest easier or irrelevant
Pick a Focus Day where you just focus on a single project or a set or tasks. An example would be dedicating Tuesday to admin tasks only…
Remote Work Tip #4. Find a Buddy
Connecting and checking in with a ‘buddy’ on a regular basis makes us more productive. Why?, well, simply put, a ‘buddy’ helps us with collaborating, sharing ideas or even venting.
McKinsey calls this the ‘Accountability buddy’ and reports that productivity increases by upwards of 25% in organizations where the employees are more connected.
Bonus Remote Work Tip: Work/Life Balance
And here are my two final remote work tips that turn remote work into what it was designed for, an aid to a more flexible life and a better work-life fit: Keep Office Hours. It’s the same work, just in a different space. Take Breaks and Get Exercise.