Embracing the future: a guide to effective remote work

Husain Sumra profile image July 2, 2024 | 6 min read

Key Points

    •Learn how to effectively communicate with colleagues remotely.

    •Tips to create effective routines.

    •Explore the benefits of a good work-life balance.

In recent years, many industries have witnessed a monumental shift toward remote work. This shift was heavily influenced by technological advancements and catalyzed by global events, most notably the COVID-19 pandemic. The transition to remote work has expanded geographical boundaries and introduced a blend of unique benefits as well as challenges that remote workers and their employers must solve. While remote work offers valuable benefits, including increased flexibility and reclaimed time because employees no longer need to commute to work, it also demands more of the employee in terms of self-regulation and discipline. To navigate the nuances of remote work, employees can adopt strategies aimed at enhancing their productivity and maintaining their well-being. By using some of these helpful tips, remote workers may be more likely to thrive in their professional roles.

1. Communicate frequently with colleagues

In remote work environments, the inherent lack of physical presence can lead to communication gaps. To bridge these gaps, remote employees should aim to communicate often with their colleagues. Communication can be handled in a variety of different ways and, no matter the method, should include regular updates on project progress, the sharing of relevant information and the clarifications of tasks when necessary. Using communication tools such as email, instant messaging and videoconference calls can ensure that everyone is on the same page.

    • Set aside regular time to check in with your colleagues throughout the day.

    • Use video calls — with cameras on — to discuss complex projects and in cases when an email just won’t cut it.

    • When you need to step away from your computer, reach out to your team to let them know and tell them when you’ll be back online.

    • When support is needed, connect with your colleagues and supervisor to come up with a support plan.

2. Develop and stick to a work routine

Creating a structured work routine is vital to the success of any remote worker. The routine you create for yourself should mimic the general structure of a typical office workday. Setting regular starting and ending times can be incredibly grounding for remote employees. Likewise, scheduling specific blocks of time for deep work, meetings and administrative tasks can create a sense of normalcy and accomplishment. Having a work routine helps establish and maintain professional boundaries, enhances focus, and makes it easier to manage time effectively. It also provides structure for others within the home and signals that you are “at work,” helping to minimize interruptions.

    • Get ready as if you were going to a traditional office. There’s no need for a suit, but it is important to dress and prepare for the day before you start work.

    • Plan the next day before you “leave work” so that you are ready to hit the ground running tomorrow.

    • Consider using a project management system’s time-blocking function to help plan out your workday hour by hour.

3. Take care of yourself by making time for breaks, exercise, and routine self-care

Remote work often blurs the lines between your personal and professional life, making it easy to overlook taking care of yourself. It is essential for remote employees to schedule breaks, engage in regular exercise and practice routine self-care. This might include short walks, stretching exercises or mindfulness practices. Regular breaks away from the laptop, as well as physical activity, can boost your mental health and increase happiness and productivity. This, in turn, reduces the risk of burnout.

4. Create a focused environment

Your physical workspace plays a crucial role in productivity. A well-organized and quiet work environment helps you maintain focus and significantly enhances efficiency. Physical boundaries, like the parameters of a home office, can also be effective in enforcing the boundaries between work and home life. In a perfect situation, remote workers would create a dedicated workspace that is free of distractions and set up to promote concentration, but not every remote worker has a home office with ergonomic furniture. In its most basic form, a dedicated workspace can be as simple as a specific spot in the home that is only used for work. Set up for minimal distractions; this could be a specific seat at the dining room table or a chair and a lap desk in the corner of a bedroom. It’s important that others in the home know and respect that when you are in that dedicated space, work is happening and you need to focus.

5. Use the right tools and equipment when you work

Equipping yourself with the right tools and equipment is fundamental in a remote work setup. This includes investing in a reliable laptop, a high-speed internet connection and a comfortable office chair. Other productivity tools, such as a standing desk converter or noise-canceling headphones, can also be beneficial to remote workers looking to maintain their well-being and minimize distractions at home. Additionally, software for project management, time tracking and communication can further enhance efficiency and streamline workflows.

6. Discover your work style, and create a remote work environment that supports that style

Everyone has a unique work style; some may thrive on a very structured schedule, while others might prefer more flexibility. Remote workers should take the time to reflect on their work style to understand what might work best for them in their specific work-from-home situation and then create a supportive environment for themselves. This could mean adjusting work hours to when one is most productive or customizing the workspace to suit personal preferences, thereby optimizing productivity.

7. Maintain a healthy work-life balance

One of the major challenges of remote work is knowing when to stop working. It’s crucial to establish a clear boundary between work and personal time. Logging off at a regular time, turning off notifications after work, and physically separating from the workspace can help maintain a healthy work-life balance. It can be tempting to finish up one more thing or respond to that after-hours email, but clear and definitive work-life boundaries are essential for long-term sustainability and personal well-being. Employees in a traditional workspace need to maintain these boundaries as well, but in their case, they have the benefit of physically removing themselves from their work setting to help enforce those boundaries.

8. Socialize with colleagues

Remote work can sometimes feel isolating. To counteract this, it’s important to try to socialize with colleagues. Through virtual coffee breaks, remote team-building activities or informal catchups, remote employees can maintain their connection to those they once shared an office space with. Building and maintaining friendly relationships with coworkers can lead to a more enjoyable work environment and can also enhance teamwork and communication. A personal connection can also be a vital part of lifting employee morale and building a workplace culture that some remote employees crave.

9. Enjoy the benefits of working remotely

Benefits enjoyed by remote workers may include the flexibility to work from different locations, the absence of commuting or the ability to integrate work with personal life more seamlessly. For work-from-home parents, the inherent flexibility can be incredibly beneficial and allow them the freedom to care for and connect with their family in ways that would otherwise be impossible. Embracing these benefits can make remote work more rewarding and sustainable.

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