After 2020, more people than ever before are asking how they can be productive working outside the office when working outside the office and in their homes.
Remote working has been a trend growing in tandem with increased access to personal computers and private high-speed internet. Thanks to improved professional information systems, more companies from all business sectors are moving towards exclusively online processes.
Of course, the pandemic catalyzed this trend. Now, remote work is trending to the forefront of business.
You may think of working at home as sitting on your couch in your pajamas. Perhaps with your favorite playlist queued up, your pet curled up beside you, and your mug filled with your favorite hot drink. However, remote work is a broad term that encompasses a variety of working scenarios.
So, if you’re at home permanently and looking for ways to stay productive, manage the change of scenery, or improve your work-life balance, read on. Here’s our guide to working remotely and succeeding in the home!
Different Types of Remote Work
Remote work can range from entirely at-home work to a mix of in-office work and at-home work schedules. The latter style is often referred to as hybrid work.
Many companies offer hybrid work options that involve regular office days for meetings, project finalizations, and face-to-face client management. However, in this setup, individual projects are often done in the home. This type of work structure typically involves weekly, monthly or even quarterly day splits depending on the company’s needs.
The type of remote worker is also not uniform. We’ll be referring to traditional full-time workers in much our guide. However, some remote workers are exclusively freelance—securing and negotiating their contracts within their field as needed.
Freelance workers can either be full-time or part-time, with many freelance workers supplementing their day jobs with “side hustles” to improve their financial situations.
Why Work Remotely?
The convenience of working from home is undeniable. There’s a reason this is the most commonly cited benefit of remote work. The lack of commute reduces a worker’s environmental footprint and saves both morning preparation and travel time. Gas and public transportation costs, expenses related to coffees and coworker lunches, and the required “business attire” are all avoided.
Comfort and flexibility also play a significant role in an employee petitioning for remote work. Setting up a space to meet your specific needs can increase productivity, and the flexibility to schedule your work hours often improves overall job satisfaction.
A less rigid work schedule can also enhance your personal life. Planning appointments, doctor’s visits, or trips to the hairdresser become significantly less stressful. And with more time to enjoy with your family or to improve fitness routines, your quality of life can rise significantly.
Furthermore, you may experience lower anxiety levels. Managing fewer interpersonal office interactions and conflicts will similarly benefit your mental health. Without a rushed morning routine, your transition into the workday will be much smoother.
Working from home may also help keep you physically healthier. With your kitchen next to your office, you can plan for more nutritious homemade meals, and your flexible hours will make regular exercise much easier to schedule. If adequately designed, your work-life balance can improve dramatically by taking advantage of the extra time in your day.
Learning to Excel in Remote Work
The benefit of working from home can indeed be fantastic, but to fully profit from the advantages of remote work, you need to put in the effort. There are common issues that all remote workers face that you need to manage to be successful.
When you work where you live, it can be challenging to disengage. Since you do not leave your office building at the end of the day, you no longer have a physical transition from your place of work to your home. Without that physical barrier in between, switching your brain off of work mode can be problematic.
To avoid this, set up a routine for the beginning and the end of your day. Do the same tasks before you start your workday and after you finish up. These habits and routines can take the place of leaving your office and unwinding from your workday on the commute home.
You should also set up an office space in which to work. While getting projects done in the comfort of your bed or your favorite armchair may seem appealing at first, not having a designated workspace makes it easier for work issues to follow you around during your downtime or personal time with family.
Your brain gets used to a routine, so if you’re crunching numbers on the couch during the day, you may find yourself thinking about numbers when you should be enjoying a movie or game with your family.
Additionally, these relaxing furniture pieces are not exactly ergonomic. Office chairs are built for long hours at the computer. You can do lasting damage to your neck and back if you do not set up a working space designed to keep your body in a healthy position throughout the workday.
Avoiding Distractions at Home
If disengaging from work is not your problem, you could easily find yourself on the opposite end of the spectrum. We build our households to be sanctuaries, and that means loads of distractions. Without direct accountability from supervisors or colleagues, it can be all-too-easy to find a reason to procrastinate.
Distracting yourself with household chores or errands can be just as dangerous as finishing the latest Netflix series. Hold firm to your routine and don’t permit yourself to use daily tasks as reasons to interrupt your work and decrease your productivity. These are tasks to accomplish during the evening, just like when working in a more traditional office.
Need to break up your day? Set challenges for yourself. Agree to finish a particular project or attain a specific goal before taking a break to go for a walk, clean the kitchen, or read a chapter in the book you’re loving.
A benefit of remote work is that you can arrange your schedule in a way that makes you the happiest and the most productive. Still, to succeed, you have to be accountable to yourself and make sure the pitfalls of being at home don’t diminish your productivity.
Our advice? Focus on your time management and organization. Make a schedule for every day and stick to it. If you create a structured routine and have the self-discipline to follow through, you will maintain your work quality and output while benefiting from all of the advantages of working remotely!
The last aspect of remote work to consider is the reduction in human interaction. While alone time can be great, many people thrive in a team environment. Working alone cannot only be lonely, but it can also impact collaboration. Brainstorming and organic idea creation are much more difficult to achieve from home offices.
Going into the office one day a week to hash out new ideas and work through group problems can alleviate brainstorming issues. Consistent interaction through video calling platforms with supervisors and colleagues alike is also essential. This ensures that communication lines remain strong, and every team member is engaged with the project’s goals.
While it is the company’s responsibility to support team communication, always be an advocate for collaboration and offer suggestions for procedures that could improve your work from home experience and your company’s overall success.
Ultimately, remote work is about balance. There are pros and cons to working from home, but we live in a world where our ever-improving technology allows for more jobs to be completed remotely than ever before.
With the right mindset, training, and shared accountability, remote work can be the next step in advancing our work culture and creating an ideal work-life balance.