You can be just as productive when working remotely – if not more so – but there are challenges as well as benefits.
- Working remotely is becoming a popular way to earn a living. Although there are many benefits to working from home, there are also many challenges.
- When you work from home, it's important to continue building your career and create a comfortable working environment. For instance, you'll still need to network in order to expand your contact list and find a quiet place in your home that you'll only use during your working hours.
- Certain challenges come with working remotely, such as feeling lonely, working extra hours and dealing with interruptions. Be sure to take the steps necessary to separate your personal life and your working life, and stay in contact with friends and co-workers.
Working from home can cause distractions that attack your efficiency and motivation. However, remote work is an ideal setup for many modern employees. Done right, it has many benefits, from saving money to encouraging work-life balance.
You can be just as productive working remotely than working in your company's office, if not more so. But doing it successfully requires self-awareness and discipline. Here's how to master the practice of remote work.
1. Get out and network.
Just because you work from home doesn't mean you can't still expand your contact list or make business connections. If anything, you should try even harder to branch out, meeting clients for coffee or scheduling video calls with colleagues to collaborate.
Ronald Bannon, senior business partner at Assellin Bannon Strategic Management and business.com community member, is a prime example of this initiative. He's worked from home for 20 years, and he attributes his success to traveling internationally and maintaining regular virtual contact with colleagues and customers.
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2. Prepare for a typical workday.
When you wake up each morning, treat the day as if you're going into the office. Get up early, brush your teeth and hair, make your coffee or tea, and dress appropriately. It will put you in the right mindset to get things done. You'll have more energy and motivation to do your work, feeling less tempted to stay in bed or lounge on the couch. Sit at a desk or table, keep the TV off, and limit social distractions.
3. Set schedules and to-dos.
If you schedule out your work and create a list of tasks you want to complete by the end of the day, you'll better manage your time and remain more focused.
"I find that I make the most of my remote working time and experience when I know just what I need to get done, what resources I have, and the basic timeline it needs to be completed in," said Sabrina Greenwood-Briggs, director of people at LeadPoint, parent company of MoneyTips. "With that said, I also make sure to check in and take time to see that I'm on track. If I'm ahead, great. If I'm behind, I look to see why and adjust."
4. Change your setting.
Working from home can feel isolating, and you might feel taunted by overflowing laundry baskets, unwatched Netflix episodes, housemates, etc. If you were in an office, you might not feel as tempted to stray from your work.
Also, it's easy to fall into a routine of mundanity. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of scenery. If you feel unmotivated, drive to your favorite cafe or meet up with colleagues at a coworking space, said Greenwood-Briggs.
5. Make time for breaks.
Just because you're working from the comfort of your own home doesn't mean you don't deserve some time away throughout the day.
"Most people don’t realize how valuable it is to just get up for five minutes and stretch or change gears," said Greenwood-Briggs.
Take time for coffee breaks, walks around the block, long lunches with loved ones or even quick gym sessions. You'll return feeling more inspired than before.
Challenges of working remotely
With no managers looking over your shoulder and no more rushing through the morning commute, working remotely can seem like a dream job. However, anyone who works remotely can tell you that there are also many challenges that come with working remotely. These are some of the most common challenges of working remotely.
Working too much
It's common to think that it will be easy to put off doing your assignments when you aren't under supervision, but in fact, remote workers are more likely to overwork. Remote workers tend to forget to take breaks, often work well beyond their typical office hours and avoid spending time outside of their workspace.
Although you won't have bosses and co-workers dropping by your desk, you will experience other interruptions, such as the kids or spouse coming into your home office unannounced. You may also experience salespeople and delivery drivers ringing the doorbell when you least expect it. There's no way to completely avoid interruptions, but there are some things you can do to reduce them. For example, keep consistent work hours, explain to kids and your spouse why it's important for you to avoid interruptions, and set up a signal to alert others that you are working.
One of the most difficult things about working remotely is not being around your co-workers on a daily basis, especially if you have recently made the switch. Cutting yourself off from people you are used to seeing every day may cause you to feel lonely. You may not be aware that you are starting to isolate yourself, but staying inside your home all day, every day can cause loneliness rather quickly. To avoid isolating yourself, it’s important to meet with friends and co-workers at least once a week.
It's essential to take scheduled breaks. Consider setting an alarm to remind you that it's time to get up and stretch or go for a brief walk outdoors. Remember that your time is valuable, so try to set regular working hours, and do not work beyond these hours unless it's absolutely necessary. Make sure to stay in contact with co-workers, family and friends.