Working remotely? Here's how to do it right

If you are a digital nomad, freelancer, or gig worker, working remotely may not come as too much of a shock. But if your company has gone from working in the office to working from home during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, those required to do so will find that working from home is very different from what they are used to.

Before we get into how to optimize your working-from-home experience, let's get into what are the pros and cons of remote operations. Even if you are in the comfort in your own home, it can be challenging staying switched on, so keep these points in mind when first starting out.

Pros

  • Flexible work times
  • No transit costs or travel time
  • No chance that you'll forget anything at home
  • Close proximity to a functioning kitchen and home-cooked meals
  • No work distractions like small talk at the water cooler, micro-managing or peer pressure
  • Technology assists with concise and documented communication, whether it be meetings or one-on-ones
  • You can listen to your own music
  • You can perform household tasks simultaneously with small breaks, i.e., putting on the laundry
  • You can cozy up on the couch

Cons

  • All the distractions of home life, including people, social media, chores, food, movies, etc.
  • The temptation of procrastination is high
  • Easy to not 'get ready' for work and just wear your pajamas (this can lead to feeling sluggish or 'lazy' throughout the workday)
  • Building work habits at home can be difficult at first
  • It can get tedious and frustrating without like-minded co-workers around
  • Tech faults happen and it can be difficult to communicate for certain people
  • Noise from neighbors, roadworks, pets, etc. can be hard to ignore
  • It's easy to work overtime without noticing

What you will need to work remotely

Your employer may provide you with equipment, or require you to supply your own. And depending on your profession, the essentials to complete your work may differ.

But the overall basics you'll need when working remotely and online are:

  • Secure internet connection
  • Dedicated company VPN (if provided and necessary)
  • Laptop/desktop/tablet
  • Phone, chat applications or other modes of communication
  • A dedicated work station
  • Routine schedule for work tasks
  • Discipline

Tips from people who do it successfully

1) Minimize distractions

"Working remotely can be challenging for people who aren't used to it. The best tip that I can give is to eliminate as many distractions as possible. Creating an environment where you are not being constantly bothered has been very helpful for my productivity." - Andriy Haydash, Freelance WordPress Developer, 2.5 years working remotely

"A good noise-canceling headset will help you block out distractions that come with working remotely." - Scott Lengacher, CEO at Lenga, 5 years working remotely

2) Prepare yourself

"Working from home takes a lot of patience, mindset segmentation, and courage to balance work-life relationship, especially when you have toddlers. It has its ups and downs, but the main takeaway for me is I get to be a dad to my kids. I would not trade it for anything!" - Rienzi Mosqueda, SEO Expert, 10+ years working remotely

3) Build a workday routine and track your activity

"If you want to boost your productivity while working remotely, keep track of how work hours are spent. Identify what your time-wasting activities are, and take steps to avoid them." - Chioma Iwunze, Content Marketer at Time Doctor, 5 years working remotely

4) Communication is key

"Communicate openly and honestly. For us working remotely, it is more important than ever to talk to our clients, find out where they stand and how they assess their situation. We chat [online] on a regular basis about short-term projects, workload, and predictions, so nobody is left in the dark." - Alicja Olko, Outreach Specialist at CandyBar

Extra tips to stay productive when working from home:

  • Maintain regular working hours
  • Set rules with the people around you
  • Schedule breaks and take sick leave when necessary
  • Get out of the house (even if it's a short walk on your break)
  • Socialize and attend meetings with colleagues via technology (i.e., video calls and group chats)
  • Overcommunicate for visibility and to minimize miscommunication


Check out our Information Centre for up-to-date business operations and keep an eye on our blog for more communication strategies and updates.