The digital age is here, and it has completely revolutionised the way we work. More and more people are working remotely for their companies which comes with obvious benefits and some considerations. This post will cover how remote work is shaping the future of business, as well as some tips on how to approach remote work if you’re new to it.
Remote work is the new normal. It’s estimated that 50% of workers are already working remotely, but this number will keep growing as technology becomes more advanced and covers more bases for day-to-day business operations. As companies develop their remote work policies, they’ll need specific skills and attributes from the people filling these positions. If you’re looking into making the move towards remote work then you’re in luck, as you’ve got more chance now than ever before with remote roles skyrocketing, but you need to be aware of how to approach it. Here are some tips to get you started..
Trust & Transparency
One of the biggest concerns when hiring remote workers is trust-building between employer and employee.
This will become easier after you already have a remote position, but if it’s your first you need to prove that you are reliable, capable of working independently and dedicated. To do this properly requires some forethought on your part. It’s not enough just to say “I’m great” – it needs to be backed up by evidence. One way of achieving that is by showing that you have done a side-hustle or other work remotely, which will highlight your ability to stay motivated, be effective of your own accord and also that you have a work ethic that took you to take that decision in the first place. Employers will effectively want to see that you aren’t someone that would give less than the employer is looking for if they thought they could get away with it.
It’s easy to fall into bad habits when working remotely, so you need to take ownership of your day and decisions. Treat it the same as you would if you were going to an office by getting up, showered and dressed as if you were – there’s nothing that will kill your longer-term motivation like sitting in your pyjamas day in, day out. You don’t have to wear a shirt or go overboard, but at least acting like you have a task to complete and making that concerted effort will put you in a better headspace for concentrated work.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of answering emails/messages at all hours or doing work whenever you’re free as the lines get blurred between work and home life.
This can be one of the most challenging aspects for remote work beginners, as the world is becoming increasingly connected. Though you may receive emails and chat notifications at any hour (especially if you’re working in a different time zone than your coworkers), it’s important to develop a habit of setting times when you switch off and aren’t available for work. The best part of working remotely is having the flexibility to work when you are most productive, so be careful about setting the standard that you are available 24/7.
Know when you are most productive and the working patterns that works for you
If your company or type of work is such that you can be working when you are the most productive or whenever fits your life then remote work can be a great exercise in productivity.
With the freedom of remote works comes the responsibility to set up your surroundings, working patterns and schedules in a way that work best for you. Take advantage of the freedom to create an environment where you are most productive, whatever that might be. If it’s early mornings that work for you or late nights then utilise that to do your most focused work without interruption, but note you’ll probably still need to stay in touch with colleagues during more common business hours.
On the topic of productivity and working effectively, another absolute must for me personally, is noise-cancelling headphones. They help to zone out and concentrate if you need to focus and there are other things going on at your home.
Build screen breaks and self-care into your schedule
Ensuring you get away from your desk from time-to-time and are focusing on your health and wellbeing will result in a better quality of work and stave off the fatigue of living and working within the same four walls, which can become draining if your not conscious of its effects.
Whether that means a morning gym session, lunch time walk around the park, nipping out to grab a coffee or simply moving to another location of the house to break up the monotony, over the long-haul it will pay dividends.
Focus on building relationships and empathising with your coworkers
People are seeing more of you and your life than before…whether that be the makeshift desk you’ve created in your bedroom or your partner in the background of a Zoom call. While there may be some things that are unavoidable if you’re taking calls from your home, you can be conscious of how much you want to share or not and that is completely up to you.
On the other hand, with remote work comes the need to build relationships, gain respect, be funny, kind and clever (all the desirable traits that make one thrive in the workplace under normal conditions) but all over a computer screen, where nuance can be lost, comments unheard, things gone unsaid and any of the other difficulties that come with that method of communication.
Ensure that you are fostering relationships by actively engaging and reaching out if you feel too long without contact has gone by. You need to be even more conscious of this when working remotely full-time as there will be less to make relationships grow organically so they need to be nurtured more actively.
Communicate more than you usually would
As you don’t have the face-time as a reminder that you exist for your employees, you should make a concerted effort to ensure you become a valued member of the workforce and this may take a little more work to achieve and maintain due to the nature of the interactions.
Depending on the structure of the company or work, it’s much easier to let days go by without speaking to your colleagues, so if you don’t have a reason a simple non-work related comment or check in is useful to keep up those relationships. Also, there is less of the usual water-cooler chats that you would have in a workplace, so be sure to schedule catchups that don’t have to revolve around work or ask questions to replicate those relationships as closely as you can and give people the chance to be open and to develop better relationships and ensure you don’t fade away into the background of your company.
As a final note, for those of you who either can’t work from home or would prefer not to, but find yourself working at at a remote-first company, then working at a local co-working space could be an option. This way, you still get out and about but there is no need for an inconvenient commute – plus you’ll find yourself surrounded by other people in similar scenarios and maybe even get to have a conversation like the old days…
In conclusion…treat the benefit with respect, use it wisely and make sure you don’t slip into any bad habits and it can be a fantastic tool for all areas of your life.