During the turbulent year that was 2020, many of us were introduced to the world of remote work, whether we wanted to be or not. While this style of work might not be for everyone, many have been pleasantly surprised by the many benefits of remote working. From the additional time available to spend with family and friends that would otherwise be spent commuting, to an improved work-life balance.
Many businesses have also found that there are lots of advantages to being more flexible with their workforces in terms of when and where they work. Moreover, they risk being left behind if they don’t adapt to the rise in remote work as more and more job seekers are coming to expect the option of some sort of flexible work.
If you’re thinking about making the move to remote work permanent this year, here are some tips to help smooth the transition. The perfect remote working set-up will vary from person to person, however, these are things that we could all work on to make the move as easy as possible.
While we’ve still got restrictions in place due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many people are still working from home. Although a lot of us probably fancy ourselves as expert remote workers by now, it’s still worth having a think about your working environment, especially if you’re thinking about making the permanent transition.
If you plan to work from home even after Coronavirus restrictions are lifted, now might be the time to upgrade your home workspace. Do you have all the tools and equipment you need to carry out your job efficiently? Is it time to invest in that second screen? If you don’t feel that you have all the equipment required, talk to your manager as the company may be able to help by lending you equipment or contributing financially.
Are you comfortable for a whole day’s work? Even just upgrading your chair can make a huge difference to your comfort if your job requires you to sit at a desk all day. If you’re still working from the sofa, then it’s definitely time to start creating a more permanent workspace.
Many workers have been delighted to escape some of those pesky workplace distractions while working from home. Perhaps you’ve been able to put your favourite radio station on for a change or you don’t need to worry about that colleague who stops by your desk every half an hour. However, that doesn’t mean that working from home is necessarily distraction-free. While creating a dedicated workspace can help with this, it’s important that family members or housemates know when you’re working and that they respect this.
When we finally transition back to some sort of normality when the threat of the virus has diminished somewhat, you may be able to switch up your workplace. Some are already predicting that the ‘work from home’ of 2020 will evolve into ‘work from anywhere’ in the near future. Before the pandemic, there were many shared workspaces already cropping up, well kitted out for the remote worker. You might find that a change of scene to one of these spaces does wonders for your creative thinking.
There are lots of places you can rent a desk for the day, week, month or even year. Your local library might have space for you to go and work in a quiet and calm atmosphere. Coffee shops may work for some people, however, if you’re easily distracted it might not be for you. If you try working in a public space, be wary of connecting to public WiFi, especially if you’re using a company laptop or you’re working on confidential documents. Make sure you check your company’s policy before doing this.
While one of the biggest perks of remote work is the flexibility it offers, it’s still important that there is some form of structure to your working day or you may find yourself struggling to keep up quite quickly. It’s important that you can visualise the day ahead when you start work in the morning and know what you are aiming to achieve.
It’s also important that your colleagues know what your schedule is. They will need to know when they can get in touch with you, otherwise, you might find yourself answering queries during your time off or they may find themselves unable to move forward with their own work without a response from you. If your team uses a platform like G-Suite, put your hours in your calendar and make this visible to everyone.
If you need a little more flexibility than a schedule that’s set in stone, at least have a plan as to when each of your tasks must be completed by. If you have tasks with no hard deadline, set yourself a soft deadline to make sure they don’t keep getting pushed to the bottom of the list. With so many time- and task-management software options available, you have no excuse not to be organised. Or, you may find that a good old fashioned to-do list does the job just as well.
One of the things anyone who has been working from home this year will now appreciate more than ever is a colleague who communicates well. When you’re not in the same room as your colleagues, it can be very difficult to make sure you’re on the same page with a task. It can also be more difficult to make yourself fully understood when communicating via email or a messaging service. Nuance may be lost and messages misunderstood.
Good communication skills become increasingly important if you’re working on a team project and others are relying on your contribution to facilitate their own work. Make sure you’re using the correct channels for the type of information you’re relaying and focus on making your communications as clear and concise as possible.
Of course, work-related communications should be your top priority, however, it’s also important to touch base regularly to ensure that you don’t start to feel isolated from your team. A group Slack channel reserved for non-work related things or a quick Zoom catch-up every week can help with this.
This is one of the things that remote workers often struggle most with when they switch from an office environment. When home is the place where you work, it can be very difficult to switch off in the evenings, or even switch on in the mornings.
If you’re not lucky enough to have a dedicated office at home, the next best thing is to set up your workspace in a room that you can close the door on at the end of your working day. If you do have to set up shop in the living room or kitchen, try to tidy up at the end of the day so there isn’t that visual reminder of work while you’re trying to enjoy a family dinner or relax in front of a film.
Clearly defining ‘work time’ and ‘home time’ is very important but this can be difficult when you don’t have something like a commute to help with the transition. Sometimes just moving from your desk to your sofa won’t be enough to help you get back into ‘home-mode’. If you really struggle with this, try replacing your commute with a walk. Just stretching your legs for fifteen minutes before and after work will get you away from your desk and clear your head.
One of the best things about remote work is that you can create an environment that really works for you and will help you perform to a higher standard. Creating a distraction-free workspace where you’re comfortable can boost your productivity and engagement. Once you’ve done this, get organised to make sure you stay on top of things and don’t risk working late into the evenings unnecessarily. Improving your communication skills will help your team as well as you. Maintaining a good work-life balance may be the most tricky one of these tips to master but is also the most essential. If you’re disciplined, you’ll create more time for yourself that can be spent with friends, family, exercising or simply just relaxing. Work on all four of these aspects and your transition to permanent remote work will be as smooth as possible.