Working Remotely: A Guide to Stay Productive
As COVID-19 keeps spreading, companies started taking preventative measures in order to safeguard their employees and minimize the risk of contamination. Remote work is one of such precautions as it allows avoiding crowds and thus limits the virus spreading.
However, not many people actually know how to self-organize themselves so that not to lose productivity and keep the work process up and going. We have collected the best practices of efficient remote working that will be helpful not only for the temporary remote employees but for freelancers as well.
Separate the working area and the rest area
When an office worker gets to work, he tends to arrive ready and prepared as he already changed “home” to “office” in his head. As for remote workers, they normally do not change their location and work directly from home. This is the number one pitfall in self-organization that many freelancers fall for.
If you are among those people who do not go to the hubs or coworking areas and prefer working from home, this is a tip for you: separate the working and the rest areas to boost your productivity. The most basic example is working in the kitchen and going to the living room when you need a bit of rest. In this way, you will perceive the kitchen as an area reserved for work and, when entering it, you will be mentally ready.
Another critical thing when working remotely is self-management. Even though remote employees still have access to all task trackers and management systems (such as Trello or Slack), some people have difficulties with completing the tasks when working independently.
To avoid such issues and complete all the set tasks on time, you need to create a daily plan and strictly follow it. When you have a list of to-do tasks in front of you, it creates a sense of responsibility and motivates you to work independently.
But of course, the creation of a working plan does not mean you have to completely shut-in. It is essential to keep up the communication with your manager and team members and approve the tasks with them. In this way, you will keep the working process smooth and efficient as every team member will have a clear understanding of what to do.
Write everything down
As David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails, stated “The productivity boost from working remotely does not come from replacing all those in-office meetings with a bunch of video calls. It comes from turning all those meetings into write-ups instead. Status updates, pitches, ideas. Write. Them. Down”. And we must agree, this is a really great tip that not many people actually follow.
When it’s in front of your eyes, it’s real and it actually “happened”. When you have a call with a manager, for example, list down the main points that you discussed and any ideas that came to mind. By keeping the records of your work, you will be able to always get back to the topic and ensure that you did not miss anything important.
Break down the tasks
When you work remotely and there is a bunch of tasks to do, it’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed. One of the efficient methods to deal with a big number of tasks is to break them down into smaller ones. By doing so, it will be easier to complete the tasks and by seeing the progress, you will be more motivated to finish them all. That’s a secret of our brain: we love “to-do” tasks and seeing the list makes us more productive.
Another useful tip: schedule the tasks and limit them with time frames. For example, you can write down a task and state that you will be doing it from 12 PM to 12.30 PM. The trick is to dedicate a small amount of time to a task so you won’t get bored or tired. This is a really efficient way to manage a variety of tasks and self-organize yourself. When having a clear start time in front of your eyes, you will get mentally prepared for this task and you will also know that it will finish by a certain time. Of course, this is not an ultimate rule but it does work for some people so you might want to give it a try.
Don’t forget communication
Even if you work remotely, it doesn’t mean you and the team do not have to conduct meetings. First, personal communication contributes to the overall motivation and second, it ensures that everyone stays on the same page and understands the tasks and responsibilities.
In order for the meetings to go successfully, get ready in advance: write down any questions or issues that you would like to discuss, list down your progress, achievements and tasks, and make sure to write down the meeting results after all. A good idea would be to keep the meeting records in a shared folder (such as Google Drive) so everyone has access and can make any edits.
An important thing about communication during the remote work: always remain available during the working hours. For that, make sure that all your chats are unmuted and notifications are set for all means of communication. This will help you avoid any missed calls or messages and will enable your colleagues to reach you on time.
Remote work can be as productive as in-office but the key to its efficiency is one’s personal understanding of responsibility and the ability to motivate oneself. In addition to that, it’s also the responsibility of a manager to organize the work process and clearly explain the tasks.
Whether remote work is a temporary thing or you will continue practicing it in the future, approach it in a well-organized manner in order to remain productive and comply with set deadlines.