Prior to 2020, a lot of workers may not have thought of remote work as an option. After getting a taste for it during the pandemic, it seems many prefer remote work to being in the office. Technology has come a long way to make it feasible as well. The life balance and daily freedom remote work offers can be huge. You may enjoy saving the time and cost of a commute, for instance, or making lunch at home.
But working from home can be tricky. In a WFH arrangement, it may be a challenge to separate work from household chores and distractions. You might consider these distractions to be greater than in the office and find they hinder your productivity. Or you may feel more productive without others stopping by your desk and chatting throughout the day.
No matter which camp you’re in, remote work will cause you to make changes. Check out the tips below for ideas to help you best manage your remote life and do your work well.
1. Put More Effort Into Communication
Communication is key in all relationships, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise it’s vital in remote work. In a remote work situation, it’s better to over-communicate. Not seeing your teammates in person can lead to miscommunications or being left out of the loop. Make sure to touch base often — by email, phone, or instant messaging — to help alleviate this.
This is especially important when working for companies in different states or countries. When you’re in a different time zone from your co-workers, creating a process for relaying information is necessary. There might even be a language barrier. Setting up designated check-ins with your supervisor is helpful.
If you’re new to remote work, seek out a company that’s well-versed in using remote contractors. These employers have established effective protocols for communicating with remote workers and thus can flatten your learning curve.
2. Clarify Expectations
Along with good communication comes expectations management. A clear job description that outlines your role and the goal of the position is key. Having regular check-ins to ensure you’re hitting milestones will keep everyone on track.
Some employers aren’t as good at setting concrete parameters for remote positions. If this is the case for you, seek clarity. Ask questions like, “What does success look like in this role?” and “What do you expect me to master in the first 90 days?” Understanding what your boss is looking for will go a long way in helping you be successful.
It’s also vital to know the culture of the company in terms of times you’re expected to be at your computer. Do they want you to be available 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday? Or is the role more project-oriented, where you just need to submit your project deliverables by their deadlines? Knowing what your employer’s expectations are is critical to your delivering on them.
3. Hold Yourself Accountable
Some tools employers might use to facilitate communication and expectations management are time tracking and project management software. These tools add an accountability aspect to your work in addition to keeping everyone on the same page. They help track project progress and completion of tasks.
Again, it’s important here to know what accountability looks like to your boss. It may be on-time completion of long-range tasks or an email response within 10 minutes. Once you know this, you can hold yourself to that standard. If your job is about projects and due dates — as opposed to all-day availability — make sure you meet deadlines. Should something come up or you run into a snag, reach out early so the deadline doesn’t pass without communication.
If you have other teammates, you can rely on them to keep you accountable as well. Getting to know the co-workers who depend on your contributions will help keep you on task.
4. Carve Out a Dedicated Workspace
One appeal of remote work is that it can often be done from anywhere. While this sounds exciting, and variety can get the creative juices flowing, it can also make it hard to focus.
Establishing a dedicated workspace can promote productivity. It limits outside distractions and helps create a sense of a normal workday. A dedicated workspace in the corner of the spare bedroom, for example, might keep you from tidying the kitchen or turning on Netflix.
Your workspace also has a huge impact on your physical and mental health. Creating a space with natural light and lamps is beneficial to your eyes and your mood. An ergonomic chair, mouse, and keyboard can do wonders for preventing back and neck pain as well.
Having this distinct place in your house can also help you maintain work-life balance. It creates a separation between work and relaxation, aiding the mental shift that needs to happen at the end of the workday.
5. Develop a Routine
Creating a routine is another way to boost productivity. Some people picture WFH life as rolling out of bed and opening up their laptop while still in their pajamas. Although some people might be able to work that way, the vast majority need more structure
Waking up, making breakfast, showering, getting dressed, and sipping your coffee will make the day feel more normal. This flips the switch from home time to starting your workday. Your dedicated workspace also comes into play; going to sit at your work area each morning is like going to your office. These routines allow you to focus your day and channel productivity. You create expectations for what work looks like.
Remote work offers many benefits in creating the fulfilling work-life balance you desire. To do this type of work well, communicate abundantly, understand expectations, and hold yourself accountable. Creating a dedicated workspace and daily routine also helps you separate home life from work life. By following these tips, you’ll set yourself up for WFH success.