Remote working is becoming increasingly popular, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic has made this an essential option for many businesses. It allows employees to work from home or any location outside of the traditional office environment. This offers many benefits such as greater flexibility, increased productivity, and better work-life balance.
However, working remotely can be challenging, particularly for those who are used to working in a physical office. The absence of daily interaction with colleagues and a structured work environment can have an impact on productivity, motivation and efficiency.
In this article, we will be discussing the best practices for remote work to help you increase productivity and balance your work-life effectively.
Establish a Designated Work Space
Having a dedicated workspace is an essential element of successful remote working. Setting up an office space helps to establish a clear boundary between work-life and personal-life, ensuring a more organized workspace and increased productivity.
It is always advisable to create a designated area, preferably a room where you can focus and work without any distractions. This ensures you are in control of your surroundings and can work efficiently, as opposed to a public area or a noisy environment.
The workspace should have everything that’s required for the job, such as reliable internet connection, scanner, printer, and other essential equipment. Accessories like a comfortable chair, ergonomic keyboard, and an adjustable desk will also contribute to making the home office comfortable.
Establish a Schedule
Once the workspace is set up, it’s time to establish a schedule to help maintain a sense of consistency and control. Working from home may appear too flexible, but without definitive set hours, productivity and time management become a challenge.
Establishing set work hours will help to establish boundaries between family and work life. This also ensures that both parties are aware of when the employee is working and when they are not. Letting colleagues know the work hours will also allow for them to have a better understanding of when the employee is available or not for work-related communication.
Use Appropriate Communication Channels
Communication within a remote working environment is paramount. Working remotely hinders the ability to engage in physical conversations with colleagues, which can lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations of instructions. However, a defined process of communication helps to build trust and, most importantly, encourages a sense of team and collaboration within the workplace.
Stablished communication channels should be agreed upon by the employer and employee on the best modes of communication. Generally, email, videoconferencing, and phone calls are some of the appropriate channels. Moreover, before starting new projects, clarify your communication preferences with colleagues in terms of communication speed and response times.
Just as working remotely requires different communication channels, it also requires collaboration tools that will keep all stakeholders involved in the project or task informed. Several digital tools are specifically designed to facilitate communication and collaboration among colleagues.
Some of the popular collaboration tools include Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, Skype, Zoom, and Asana. These digital tools are helpful in sharing documents and files, managing projects, assigning duties and arranging meetings virtually.
These tools make it easy for remote-working teams to work collaboratively and maintain a balance between individual and collective work. It is important to note that not all software meets the requirements; as such, it’s vital to research to determine the most appropriate software based on the team’s needs.
Proper time management is crucial for remote workers. It’s not uncommon for employees to overlook time management when working from home, partly because the flexibility of remote working often goes hand in hand with a lack of structure.
To effectively manage time remotely, it’s essential to set clear goals and timelines for tasks. This helps in outlining the work that needs to be done, when to do it, and when to take breaks. Do not forget to also set realistic deadlines that are achievable.
Several apps can assist in time management, such as Trello, Rescue Time, and Asana, which help in establishing a daily to-do list that sets tasks according to their priority- level.
Stay Focused and Productive
Staying productive and focused during remote work is another challenge, especially when working from home around family members who can at times be a distraction. Eliminating distractions, such as social media and other non-work-related sites can boost focus and efficiency.
Organizing breaks and other non-work-related activities, such as some light exercise, enable one to obtain better control of their mental state and can promote creativity, motivation, and discipline.
Stay Connected with Colleagues
Working remotely can lead to isolation and loneliness, and this may have an impact on an employee’s motivation and productivity. This is why it’s crucial to stay connected with colleagues even when working remotely.
Virtual water cooler chats, team building activities, and meetings can be scheduled to enable the team to remain connected and provide opportunities to discuss projects or ideas. It’s important to note that knowing and understanding your colleagues also helps in setting expectations and aligning individual roles and responsibilities.
It’s worth mentioning that staying connected also reinforces the sense of a team and shared goals, and can be a vital tool for motivation, inspiration and productivity when working remotely.
Take Breaks and Engage in Physical Activities
Remote working can lead to an increase in work hours and increased stress levels, leading to burnout. As such, breaks offer an essential opportunity to relax, unwind and build energy rather than detract from it. It’s also beneficial to take a walk or engage in light exercise to improve mood and increase energy.
During breaks, it’s wise to step away from the computer, stretch, and do other activities such as meditating, listening to music, or reading a book. In the same way, engaging in light physical activities like walks can help break monotony while further enhancing the work-life balance.
Make Health and Wellness a Priority
Working from home can affect the physical and mental health of remote workers. However, working remotely offers numerous advantages, including the ability to lead a more balanced lifestyle. As such, it’s important to strive to obtain better sleep, eat healthily and engage in consistent physical activity.
Stress and other psychosocial factors that could negatively impact mental health should also be watched out for. Furthermore, creating healthy boundaries between work and life such as switching off the computer or mobile phone after work hours helps balance both domains.
Adopt A Growth Mindset
Remote work requires an individual with a growth mindset to thrive. As remote work is a relatively new phenomenon, there is potential for learning and discovering new ways to work efficiently.
There are numerous challenges associated with remote work; however, through constant learning and adaptation, remote working can provide not only a new normal for employees, but it also offers resilience in the workplace for businesses.
Remote work offers flexibility, job satisfaction, and cost certainty for employers and employees alike. For remote work to be successful, however, both parties must work together to create an environment that is productive and beneficial.
Through creating a designated workspace, communication channels, productivity tools, and a supportive network that values both mental health and work-life balance, remote working can enable employees to remain productive and meet set targets, while also positively impacting an individuals mental health.
Working remotely can be a productive and healthy alternative to traditional office work. With discipline, focus, and the implementation of the best practices for achieving an ideal balance between work-life and personal-life, remote work can be a fruitful and rewarding experience.