Earlier in 2017, the New York Times reported that in a study of 15,000 employed persons, 43% worked remotely. It comes as no surprise that this number is on the rise. Working remotely offers a wide variety of benefits—setting your own schedule, working from anywhere in the world, ditching the morning commute, and more. – Top 10 Tips for Home-Based Success
However, if you aren’t proactive in setting yourself up for success when managing your new-found freedom, working remotely might be a flop for you. You might be wondering…Can I get my work done? How will I concentrate at home? What if I need support from a coworker? How will I stay productive working remotely? These are all valid questions and concerns.
To help you adjust to your new remote job, we compiled the top 10 tips for home-based success to make the most of your workday. Working remotely is an amazing opportunity, the key is to set yourself up for success from day one and stay productive.
Top 10 Tips for Home-Based Success – Set Your Hours.
Keeping designated ‘work hours’ helps you stay productive working remotely. The first thing you need to determine is if your employer will require you to work a certain number of hours per week. The beauty of working from home is even if you’re required to work 40 hours per week, you are not tied to a mundane 9 am to 5 pm schedule. Maybe you’re like my accountant who can’t function before noon, so she sets her hours from 1 pm to 1 am in the morning. And that’s okay! What you need to identify is what hours are most productive for you, whether it be morning, afternoon, or evening.
Some jobs take flexibility to a new level and don’t set a required number of work hours per week. Instead, you are assigned projects and completion deadlines. As long as you submit your work on time, your schedule is at your discretion. To keep yourself on track to meet deadlines, you’ll want to create your weekly schedule with completion benchmarks. For example, today I’ll spend five hours on X, Y, and Z to have this section of the project complete on Thursday. It seems simple, but you’ll thank yourself for getting in this habit because it will keep you on a timeline without pressure from your employer.
Pro Tip: Regardless of your work schedule, always make your own final deadline two days before it is due to your employer. You want to give yourself a cushion of time in case any unforeseen delays arise, like technology failures. It’s also very important to give yourself ample time to edit your work. You want your work to be perfectly polished. Show your employer that allowing you to work remotely is a smart business decision!
Top 10 Tips for Home-Based Success – Back It Up! Back It Up!
Speaking of technology issues… Remember that sense of fear you had when your computer gave you the ‘blue screen of death’? What about that stomach flip you felt when you realized you didn’t back up any of your work?
You want to be proactive about preventing delays. The best way to avoid losing valuable work is to get in the habit of backing up your projects at the end of the day. When you work remotely, you won’t have access to in-house tech gurus that can fix something in a pinch. You need to be able to pick up where you left off and stay on track.
The simplest way to ensure you never lose your work is to use a cloud-based storage solution. There are many free data storage options—like Google Drive and DropBox. Make it easy for yourself and program the cloud so that it auto syncs your computer every day and you can continue to stay productive working remotely.
Top 10 Tips for Home-Based Success – Make a Daily To-Do List.
It’s not just your data you need to protect—you also need to be proactive in making sure you don’t forget anything. In an office, you have an administrator keeping track of appointments and meetings, and coworkers to help remind you when you feel you’re forgetting to do something. Working remotely means that without this backup, you need to be very organized.
Lists are your new best friends when working remotely. Keeping a daily to-do list, will not only help you make the most of your schedule but each time you check something off, it gives you a sense of accomplishment. Prioritize your list by getting the task you are dreading the most, done first. This will help you avoid procrastination and you’ll complete your tasks in a timely manner, helping you stay productive working remotely.
Top 10 Tips for Home-Based Success – Communicate with Your Coworkers and Colleagues.
While your coworkers might not be next to you, it doesn’t mean you’re suddenly working alone with no support. If you’re working on a collaborative project—set a time when everyone will be available to remotely conference. Some people like to have a bi-weekly coffee shop meeting to bounce ideas around. Find out what works for you and your teammates and test out a few different ideas.
Although working remotely means you are out of a traditional office, you want to remain an available resource for your colleagues and co-workers. Respond to emails promptly. Set weekly calls. Use Skype for Business. You want to demonstrate to your employer and coworkers that you stay productive working remotely and are a valuable team player, no matter where you work.
Top 10 Tips for Home-Based Success – Skip the Sweatpants.
Have you fantasized about how nice it would be to go to work in your favorite flannel pajamas? Sorry to say it, but you’ll want to pass on this temptation. Even if you live alone and it’s only your dog that can judge you for not getting dressed, rocking your boxers and favorite concert t-shirt won’t be doing your ‘work groove’ any favors.
Many studies concluded clothes have a symbolic meaning. We associate pajamas with leisure. Working in your pajamas will lower your productivity and negatively impact your body’s recognition of rest. Even though you work remotely, you want to have a balance between your work life and leisure time. Distinguishing the two with clothing seems simple, but this little trick will help you stay on track to getting work done so you can get back to leisure time. You don’t have to put on a suit—but a pair of pants requiring a button and not an elastic waistband will do the trick.
Top 10 Tips for Home-Based Success – Designate a Work Area.
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you shouldn’t work in your pajamas, then your bed being your new desk is out of the question. Working in your bed will completely throw off your body’s recognition of when it’s time to relax and rest. Your bed is to relax and binge watch Netflix, not stress about work.
If you don’t have a home office, make yourself a designated workstation, preferably near a window, as natural light creates an inviting, healthy workspace You may also consider purchasing a collapsible divider to give yourself the illusion of a private office and limit distractions. Adding a few touches, like a plant and non-florescent lighting, will make the space more work-friendly.
Can’t seem to get into the ‘work groove’ at home? No problem. As the number of remote workers continues to rise, so does the number of shared work spaces. Most shared work spaces are already set up with the basics, such as internet, printers etc. The price varies depending on the amount of space you need—the most expensive option is renting a private office, while your budget-friendly option is sharing a long table station, very reminiscent of what you had in your college library.
Top 10 Tips for Home-Based Success – Block It!
No matter if you work in a traditional office or work remotely, distractions are everywhere. However, at home, it might be more difficult to say no to temptation.
Have you ever binge watched a show on Netflix and hours later received a judgmental message saying, “Are you still watching?” It’s okay, we’ve all been there. While it’s great fun to spend a cold, rainy day at home catching up on your favorite series, you don’t want to lose your day by saying, “Just one more episode and then I’ll start working.” We all know one episode leads to five, and, at the end of the day, you’ve accomplished nothing on your ‘to-do’ list.
Using a site like GetColdTurkey.com or adding ‘Stay Focused’ to Google Chrome, allows you to block sites for a certain amount of time. Worried your cellphone will further tempt you? Stick to the motto ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Try putting your phone on airplane mode or keeping it in another room. Still having trouble concentrating? Check out your App Store on your smart phone for an assortment of apps that can temporarily block your access to social media sites.
Say goodbye to the fears of binge watching, online shopping, and catching up on sports; and say hello to a distraction-free work zone that will help you stay productive working remotely.
Top 10 Tips for Home-Based Success – Get Moving.
For a successful workday…MOVE! An active lifestyle is the key to stay productive while working remotely. You should take a 5 minute ‘move’ break for each hour you sit at the computer. Try yoga poses, running stairs, or a 5-minute weight set. Keep some weights or a yoga mat handy—if they are easily accessible, you’re less likely to pass on your ‘move’ breaks. Set timers or calendar appointments to remind yourself to get up and move. The benefits are huge—more oxygen to the brain, stress relief, and a rush of endorphins. Who knows, you may even drop a few extra pounds.
A lot of people working remotely worry about staying healthy. At work, it’s easy to take the stairs to your fourth-floor office, take a long walking break to get coffee, etc. At home, you sometimes need to be a bit more creative in staying active. When you set your weekly schedule, include work out times. Not having to work a set 9am-5pm schedule, allows you to hit the gym when it’s less crowded. Take your dog out for a walk. Try that new fitness class you’ve been eyeing up for the last month.
If you worry about excessive snacking on empty calorie foods throughout the day; be thoughtful about what you buy at the grocery store. Working from home means that ‘emergency’ chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer can call your name at all hours of the day. Be mindful at the grocery store and look for snacks that are filling and nutritious—steamed edamame, homemade hummus, etc. If you can’t give up your emergency chocolate stash, invest in some locking tuber ware, like KSafe, so you can limit your temptation.
No matter where you work, staying healthy makes you more productive. When you begin working remotely, create a wellness goal and incorporate it into your work day. It will become a life style habit, not a chore. Remember, you want to stay productive working remotely, so you can work smarter, not harder.
Top 10 Tips for Home-Based Success – Evaluate your productivity at the end of the week.
With any new job, you have a learning curve in your first few weeks. The same is true for transitioning to working remotely. The key is to be honest with yourself about what works and what doesn’t and make necessary adjustments to stay productive while working remotely, making this our final word of advice on the top 10 tips for home-based success.
To ensure you start out right, each week, you want to evaluate yourself. Find out what you did and did not accomplish and where you can improve your productivity. Thought you were a night owl, but turns out you’re barely moving at midnight? That’s okay. Try a different time of day to begin work.
No matter if you’re just beginning to work remotely or have done it for years, you should keep a daily log of what you did during the day. Not only does it keep you accountable, it shows your productivity. You want to show your employer that you can handle mandating your own schedule.