“In 30 years time, as technology moves forward even further, people are going to look back and wonder why offices ever existed”.
This is a quote from Richard Branson, and we couldn’t agree more. The rise of the remote worker is evident everywhere in the world.
While you may be the envy of every office-bound friend, working remotely, successfully, requires mastering self motivation and ninja-level time management skills. Let us share with you our best advice based on decades of experience of successful remote working.
1. Working your space
Planning and preparation are the key to successful remote working. Distractions eat into productivity. Even with a small living space, you need to claim an area just for your work. Your fabulous flexible working day means you can incorporate professional responsibilities with the rest of your life. To keep your focus and flow, write yourself a ‘to do’ list every time you leave your desk and especially in the evening, so you’re ready to roll the next day. Research tells us that more space increases the likelihood of remote working being a success; something to keep in mind when planning your home office.
2. You’re the boss
One of the best aspects of remote working is that the focus switches from being present to being productive; you manage your output. Even with the most basic of devices, you can create prompts and alerts to keep up to date with tasks, meetings and deadlines. The buck stops with you, there is no IT department to pass it along to. Tip: Get your internet speed up – it really pays to invest in an upgrade.
3. Dress to impress…..yourself
We are sure there are remote workers out there typing away at a laptop in a hammock on a tropical beach somewhere. But this idyllic image isn’t true of the majority of remote workers. Even if your commute has changed from two hours to two steps, it still needs approaching with the right mindset. Get ready to work; to Skype, to be seen. Depending on your industry, default to smart casual…which easily allows for a little wardrobe modification during the day for a guilt free workout. You’ve earned it. Your focus is what you produced – not just being present.
4. Choose your interruptions
Your day now allows you to blend priorities but the clue is in there; “working from home”. It’s hard to switch into “employee mode” if everyone is calling you for a chat. If possible, add in all the essential numbers for the day into favourites and switch your phone over to “do not disturb”, tough love we know but you’ve got work to do. Successfully carving out time for focused productivity is key to getting the work done.
5. Find your people
Build your bespoke business community. Most of us benefit from being able to talk to peers and professionals from the same field. In the absence of colleagues it is fantastic to be able to reach out through a forum to a virtual community of peers. There are great, established online discussions and sites available and investing in your professional community before you need it is key. Stay away from the negative threads and all day surfers. Schedule a look with a mid-morning coffee. Make it short, make it positive, make it constructive.
6. Go with your flow
If you’ve worked in an office environment for most of your professional life, the guilt of not being part of that will take a while to shake out of your system. The focus is now totally towards what you produce, not when you are present. A morning person and a morning worker are two very different people. You might be not up for communicating with the outside world yet, but you might actually be at your most reflective and focused.
7. Change it up!
Those four walls can start to really close in on you after a while. Find a coffee shop with free wi-fi for a change of scene. It’s good to find somewhere calm and free of distractions..and people you know! Take a specific task, email or project that needs some fresh thought. Why not tag a face to face catch up to the end of your work session. You really can have a great work and life balance if you plan like a pro.
8. Say it again…
The focus, as we’ve said, is now on being productive not just being present. Limited dialogue does not have to mean limited communication. Send a email after task-setting conversations, be clear what is expected of you and what the timelines are. The focus is getting it done to the best of your ability, but in order to do that successfully you need watertight parameters.
9. Work it like a boss
We’ve all done it; the day started so well and then …. lunch, and an opportunity to walk around your home and come face to face with all those other tasks that now look so urgent. A quick trip to the kitchen turns into a general domestic duty hour… a 2 minute Google for dinner recipes turns into 30 minutes after reading ’60 great things to do with your slow cooker’. Do not panic. Everyone has days like this, especially when they first start working remotely. Be less critical and focus on better preparation tomorrow. Lunch can be pre-packed and stick to the trusty favourites for dinner. Focus on your to-do list; this is your new boss and it is the touchstone of your working day. Take a leaf out of Mark Zuckerberg’s approach and streamline every other aspect of your life; keep it simple.
10. Back away from the email
Working remotely doesn’t mean that you should answer emails whenever you see them. This can be harmful to your personal brand. Off duty communication and throw away emails tapped out in seconds can send a completely different message to the one you would like to give. As fantastic as it seems to be available 24-7, think carefully before sending that after hours reply, especially after an evening out. The bravado of the evening will swiftly be replaced by you wishing you had waited until the morning. Allocating personal time is just as important as setting times to work. Answering every email as it arrives isn’t always the smartest option.