Coworking Nomads recently collaborated on a post with Remote Tribe Life to bring you top tips for working remotely/from home.
A recent survey showed that 77% of respondents reported greater productivity when working remotely compared to working in an office setting. Another study by Owl Labs found that full-time remote workers reported being happy in their jobs 22% more than workers who are never remote.
All the surveys made around remote working globally show two very important advantages in favour of it:
1. Greater efficiency and productivity – Staff get more done in less time when working remotely. Fewer office distractions can lead to a more effective usage of time.
2. Reduced stress – 78% of remote workers reported lower stress levels when working remotely according to this survey. It seems a “flexible life” can really make people happier
Nevertheless, remote working is not all pyjamas and relaxing from your living room. This way of working can be challenging and some of the issues with it may include feelings of loneliness, isolation, and disconnection.
1. Designate a workspace
Dedicate an area of your house to use as a workspace if you work from home. This space puts you in a “work” state of mind that it’s time to focus. Turn off the distractions from that space, either that’s the TV, radio or anything else. Experts recommend having a proper desk and a second monitor as well as an ergonomic chair for better productivity.
Stay away from your designated workspace when you’re not working. Try to keep the spaces completely separate otherwise you’ll bring in the stress from one place to the other.
Once you’ve completed your workday, resist the urge to check in with any professional obligations until you begin work again.
2. Optimise your environment
Some people need minimalist desks with just a few items around to be productive, others’ can be productive in messy environments.
Many remote workers recommend having the desk near natural light and using plants and warm light to create a welcoming atmosphere. Standing desks as well are gaining more and more popularity as a healthy alternative to the classic ergonomic office chair.
This will remove risk factors that lead to musculoskeletal injuries and allow for increased performance and productivity,
3. Control your schedule
Remote work requires a schedule much like a typical office job, except you’re the only one holding yourself accountable. That doesn’t mean your entire day has to be work only (it’s actually important to take regular breaks to refresh yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally), just that any nonwork activities also need to be scheduled.
Because you are not in the office and your line manager is not around, it’s up to you how you structure your day and calendar in order to optimize your productivity. Try and block out time in your calendar to reflect your priorities.
For example, setup in the hours when you will be “at work.” These hours don’t have to be 9-5, but they do have to suit your working/living needs and schedule and not conflict with the needs of your manager. Once set, try and adhere to them.
If you have a child, build their care into your schedule, like blocking out school pickup and drop off. If you play sports, schedule time to get work done before or after these activities.
Also, make sure you make these hours visible to your coworkers with a shared calendar. This way, they’ll know when you’re free to meet and when you’ve blocked out work and personal times.
4. Set clear boundaries
It’s very important to know when to say stop and not mix work and private life when working remotely. Set your notifications appropriately, e.g. block notifications from Slack, Outlook, Skype after 6 PM, so you won’t get disturbed while enjoying family time.
When creating your schedule, take into account other commitments in your life and find a routine that lets you take care of those as well. If you have a child, build their care into your schedule, like blocking out school pickup and dropoff. If you play sports or volunteer, schedule time to get work done before or after these activities.
Again, this is why a dedicated office space is so important. At the end of the day you can just close the door and leave the work “at work” or at least in that room :)
5. Get ready for the day
Take the time to go about your normal morning routine, take a shower, and get dressed for the day. Now that you’ll be saving time on the commute you have time for more things in the morning, including a healthy breakfast or dressing up the kids.
6. Don’t forget to do physical activities
Physical health is key when it comes to productivity and overall happiness. Studies show that practicing some sports or lifting weights not only reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, but also diminishes stress.
7. Setup a few mobile workspaces in your house (if you have the space)
If moving around helps you concentrate, then set up a few spaces in your house where you can work. This may help your posture since you’ll change up your seated position. Giving yourself a specific amount of time in each location may help you manage your time.
Make sure that these places are still ergonomic and your back and neck are not under pressure. You could use laptop stands like this to improve your comfort and productivity.
8. Find your most productive slot
Studies have shown that an hour of deeply focused work can be up to 500% more productive than when you’re interrupted or multitasking.
Working from home also comes with its own set of unique interruptions and distractions. However, more control over where and how you work also means you should be able to set aside at least an hour or two of time for focused work. And that’s all you really need.
The key here is to find your most productive time and then block distractions during it.
You also need to protect this time as much as possible. That means letting your team know you won’t be available or online. It also means making sure you don’t get sucked into “internal distractions” like checking social media or news.
Setting up calendar schedules for video conferences is a great way to manage team collaboration. Ideally, try and stick to the same meeting time each week. This way, your employees will know how to build the rest of their schedule around the conference. Regular meetings are also great for creating comradery between dispersed team members.
It’s also worth asking people to regularly report in on the progress they’re making. Visual project management tools like Trello and Asana help with this. In these tools, team members can drag tasks from “to do,” to “in progress” lists.
9. Make the smartphone work for you, not against you
A smartphone can be your productivity booster or your enemy depending how you use it in your daily activities. A lot of people are not even aware of how much time is being taken from them by useless notifications or how to even setup their phone to work for them.
If you don’t have enough time to read, we’ve collated the most important tips for you below:
1. Turn off all your notifications and leave only the most essential ones open
2. Hide social media icons in a folder
3. Turn off “raise to wake function”
4. Add the “Screen time widget to your Today Screen
5. Organize your apps and folders alphabetically
6. Install a goal tracker for your business goals
7. Use Brain.fm for peace of mind and better focus
10. Efficient communication to increase productivity
If you work from home and can’t see your team and check in on them, you’d assume that you’d be spending more time on chat, emails, and video calls.
However, studies have found that teams are more productive when they communicate in bursts followed by periods of isolation for focused work.
With team collaboration tools, working remotely can enable the team to:
• Upload and manage tasks.
• Work together in real-time.
• Edit and comment on documents.
• Communicate through chat, video, and audio.
• Track performance and progress.
Make sure that the collaborative tools you use can integrate with the cloud storage systems your employees use. Remote teams should be able to work on files all the way from Google Drive, to Dropbox and Evernote. The more freedom your employees have, the less likely they are to end up left out of the loop.
11. Install a tool to monitor productivity yourself
It may sound weird to monitor yourself, but some tools can make you more productive by showing you how much time you waste on social media websites or webpages with news for example.
Tools like Rescuetime can help you understand when and where you waste your precious hours during work time. The software is very easy to use and it works as an extension in your browser so it will always be there if you allow it. You can setup alerts around the use of some webpages or software on your computer so that you will become aware if you lose your focus.
About the author:
Andrew Williams is the Founder of Remote Tribelife, a magazine for digital nomads and remote working. Andrew has an extensive background in SEO and content marketing. His experience with content marketing goes back to his early age in University when he founded a blog about startups and funding. He does his best writing in the coffee shops from Bali or in the condos of busy cities like Bangkok and Singapore. He is currently based in Singapore. You can connect with Andrew on his Linkedin profile and/or follow Remote Tribelife on Instagram.