Lots of companies have embraced a more flexible working schedule for their employees, allowing people to work from home if they need to get some thinking space or letting people set their schedules to fit their personal lives.
In fact, it’s a great time to be an office worker: companies are focussed on strategies to boost their employees’ mental health, they are investing real money into creating productive and relaxing workspaces, and they’re ensuring that workers are empowered to control their own schedules. Alongside this new trend for better, brighter offices has come an increase in employing people who never (or rarely) even set foot in the office – remote workers.
Remote working can be a really helpful option for people who live in an area without much opportunity for work, or who struggle to stay focused in the office environment and prefer their own space for working. With the right technology, a supportive team and the right mentality, you can certainly be productive as a remote worker. So, whether you’re making the transition at the moment, or just considering whether it might be an option for the future, their a few different tips that could help.
Make use of your team’s instant messaging tool
Instant messaging is helpful because it mimics the pace of a face-to-face conversation. Unlike email, you can have rapid-fire exchange with other members of your team and share ideas in a natural way. This is why many companies have started using Slack, a tool which offers intuitive messaging in a relaxed format (you can send Gifs alongside your meeting notes).
If your team doesn’t have anything similar, encourage them to sign up – even if it can’t be adopted company wide, you should be able to get your nearest colleagues onboard. If it is, then make sure you’re using it effectively. That means joining channels that are relevant to your role so that you don’t miss out on conversations and becoming a participant where you can. Simply making sure that you’re actively communicating with others can help stop you from being out of the loop.
Form a schedule
Overworking can be a real problem for remote workers since the lack of designated office hours means that it’s easy to start early and finish late. While that might make you look good in the short term, it’s bad news overall and makes you susceptible to burnout. The solution is to give yourself a clear schedule and stick to it… but of course, it’s that second part that can be tricky. Some people find that certain rituals can help them stick to their schedule more effectively. This can be as simple as putting your shoes on during work hours as a way of splitting out your time. Kick your shoes off when the clock strikes six and put yourself into ‘home mode’.
While the office is probably full of a lot more hustle and bustle, your home has plenty of distractions of its own: the kids, the pets, the dishes. Minimising physical distractions is obvious, and usually means setting aside a specific space for working which is relatively clutter-free (and preferably not the bedroom!). However turning off mental distractions – the nagging feeling that you could be getting another load of washing done right now – is a tougher challenge.
One technique is to keep a distractions list. This means committing to a session of concentrated work that will last a certain amount of time, say 25 minutes. Set a timer and grab a piece of paper. Anything that pops into your mind but isn’t related to the task at hand, such as housework or a conversation you want to have with your spouse, is quickly noted down and then ignored. At the end of the session, take five minutes to review the list, see if there’s anything important to take care of, and then commit to another stretch of work.
Remote workers need to find their own groove. After a few weeks or months, you’ll start to find a pace that works for you, and you’ll also notice things that don’t work so well and avoid them in the future. The important thing is to keep open and honest communication with your team, and particularly your line manager, to keep tweaking the arrangement until your able to do your best work.