Remote work has been steadily gaining popularity for some years now. According to an article published by smallbizgenius, in 2019, the number of people who work from home has increased by 140% since 2005.
Now, most of the population is working from home. For most of the companies that had not adapted work from home before, this time has been an eye-opener. Many companies including the big ones like Twitter, Barclays, Mondelez are allowing employees to continue work from home indefinitely.
Here, I am sharing a some remote working tips that I have learnt in my five years of remote working experience that could help you make your work effective personally and professionally.
- Follow a routine: When we go to the office, the routine comes naturally to us. While in the comforts of home, it can become a tough task. Having a routine in place will not only keep you in a better mood but your teammates will also know the right time to contact you.
You may have to put in conscious efforts to keep up a routine till the time it becomes a habit for you. Read here to know how to make new habits stick. A general rule of thumb to make a habit stick is to repeat it for 21 days without fail.
For me, personally, having a fixed sleep time and wake up time helped to schedule other tasks better.
- Work when you are the most productive: If you have been working for some time, you would know what hours of the day are most productive for you.
Some people feel most productive in the silence of the night while some feel most productive in the early morning hours.
Any time when you are able to get your work done without distractions is the best time. Try to get the most important tasks of the day done during these hours.
- Take breaks: Working continuously for a long duration is actually known to reduce productivity. So, instead of trying to do all the tasks in one go, try to break your work time into chunks of smaller duration.
For eg., you can work for an hour on one task then take a break for 10 minutes and then work on another. Or you can pick some other duration depending on your tasks and personal suitability.
Taking regular breaks lets your brain and body relax and also gives you the opportunity to spend some time with family at home or friends on a call.
- Every day, have a plan of what tasks you will accomplish. Before you go to sleep, jot down the tasks for the next day, so when you wake up the next day, you know where to start. This way, you will be able to be productive as soon as you start your day.
- Do other tasks when you are not at your productive best: Checking emails is one task you can do at this time. You can schedule reading them at the end of your workday or just before you take a break or do some household chores.
- Take up only what you can manage: This point is especially for those who try to juggle many things at once. We are humans and even if we work 24 hours a day, the number of things we could accomplish is limited.
The best solution is to keep a list of tasks you need to do with priority assigned to all of them. Do the most important tasks first, including the tasks you need to take care of at home.
- Don’t hesitate to delegate: There will be some tasks that you must do but there will be some that you can easily delegate to others. Delegating tasks also helps you focus on the important tasks.
- Have a place where you can work without disturbance: After routine and task management, the workplace plays the most important part of your work life. When you are in your workplace, you know you are supposed to work and, there are fewer chances of you getting distracted. Thus it becomes important that you plan on investing in setting up a workplace at home.
To begin with, you can set up a mini DIY work station.
- Minimize distractions: For me, the biggest distractions are social media websites and apps. I open the phone to check one notification and then get stuck going through all the updates. This could also mean that while I was sitting in my workplace, I was not being productive and I end up spending a longer duration for the same task.
To keep myself away from any distraction and to be my productive best when it matters, I try to keep my phone away from me whenever I am working. Eventually, I stopped feeling the urge to check the phone now and then.
For some people, this distraction could be Netflix. A solution could be to plan for your work to be completed at a fixed time every day. At that time, you can switch on your Netflix and go binging without any guilt of not giving your 100% to your work. Know what distracts you from your work and keep away from it during work hours.
- Communicate: Being remote, communication is what suffers the most. So, you will have to be proactive to chase away any delays due to a shortage of communication. The best way is to communicate with the risk of over communication.
When you are working remotely, people cannot see you working. They also won’t know if you are available or not. Communicate this beforehand.
If you have a doubt, ask. If you find some valuable information, share. If you feel like talking, ping someone. This way, you will also be able to bring your water cooler conversations to your home.
- Never guess or leave anyone guessing: If there is someone who needs to know the status of your task, don’t wait for them to ask. Ping them and let them know the status. If you are dependent on someone’s tasks, don’t assume their status. Just ask them.
This is also a perfect time to start using a collaboration tool like Slack, Asana, Trello etc to avoid any gaps in communication
- Have patience: With remote work, also comes work time flexibility. People work according to their own schedules. What could be a suitable time for you to work might be someone else’s time to feed their kids.
So, If you ask someone a question, give them time to return back to you. Meanwhile, you can work on some other tasks.
- Stay visible: If there are group conversation, participate in them. And, always communicate your work status to your manager.
- Talk to people: Even though you are working remote, you are part of a team. Being part of the team, you should know your team members and your team members should know you. So, whenever a situation comes where you can talk about yourself or ask about someone, act on it swiftly.
You should also ping your team members individually sometimes to just build up on those friendships that you might be otherwise missing by not going to the office.
- Take care of yourself: To end the article on the most important note, all the remote working tips above would work for you only if you take care of yourself too. So, take out time for your hobbies, spend time with your family and friends. Have an ergonomic chair for a good posture. And do something to be happy every day.
If you are a tester, we also compiled some tips for making testing remote-friendly.