6 Tips to Make Remote Work More Productive

March 20, 2017 mokeefe

In today’s digital era, more employees than ever are given the flexibility to work remotely, at least part of the time. While working from the comfort of home in your favorite slippers may seem like an absolute dream, doing so actually takes quite a bit of commitment and discipline–and comes with its own set of unique challenges. Below are several tips to optimize the remote working experience in order to maximize productivity.

#1 Wake Up Ready for the Office
As tempting as it may be to hit snooze repeatedly and then start emailing from the comfort of your bed, start each day exactly as if you were going into the office. That means getting up by a hard and fast time, showering, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and so forth, in order to jump- start your day. You will come to your work with greater focus and intent if you start your day with the same structure expected of working on-site. Since you don’t have to hop in a car or on public transportation, early morning if the perfect time to get yourself organized (and caffeinated, if that’s your style), or even to get ahead on the first few emails of the day.

#2 Get Comfortable
While getting dressed is requisite–cognitively speaking, pajamas still mean sleep–and while some remote-working employees swear by getting dressed exactly as if they were going into work, the key is to be comfortable. Dress so that you can sit comfortably, for example, or so that you’re warm or cool enough, but so that your feel professional and productive. That said, if you’re going to be video chatting with bosses or clients, dress as if you were coming into work.

#3 Create a Designated Work Space
This is perhaps the most important key to successfully working remotely. If you are working from home full-time, a home-office is preferred (and a tax write-off, typically), but even if you don’t have a designated room for work, you need a specific and functional area that isn’t used for other recreation. Make sure this space is arranged in a manner that is pleasant to you–looking out a window, perhaps–but not distracting (looking at a television), and that you have all necessary supplies within an arm’s reach. Ideally, this work space should also be a “quiet zone” free of noises from pets, traffic, etc.

#4 Be Available
While you are not physically in the office, you need to be readily available to your colleagues and clients via phone, text, and e-mail during business hours. While it is tempting to tackle other tasks while working from home (laundry, errands), refrain from doing anything that will prohibit you from responding immediately to important correspondence.

#5 Take a Lunch Break
This one may be a bit surprising, or even difficult for some remote-working employees to stick to. Working from home makes it incredibly easy to simply snack at your desk throughout the day while working continuously rather than taking a set lunch break. You may even do so under the assumption that not taking a lunch break means working more productively. But in reality, even the sharpest minds need to reset and refuel, and taking a lunch will help this happen. If possible, try to take your lunch at the same time daily, as the body and mind work best when you keep to a schedule.

#6 Mind (and Log) Your Hours
While many employees fear being too distracted to work remotely, others find they have the opposite experience: they become over-extended. In the comfort of your home, it can be easy to lose track of time and get swept up into projects that take longer than the allotted work day. This may be okay if you receive pre-approved overtime pay, but it can also enable work to encroach upon your personal life. It is especially easy to fall into the “one last e-mail” mindset right around the five o’clock hour, only to realize that dinnertime is upon you. Stay mindful and stick to your hours by setting timers if need be, and by logging your exact hours of work every day, even if you are on salary, and even if your job does not require you to do so.