As we all know, thing have changed a LOT since this time last year; one of the biggest changes affecting most workers is the widespread use of remote work. While remote work comes naturally for some, for others it presents a whole host of unique challenges that makes work feel hard. But luckily, the Women’s Foundation has some tips and tricks to share that might help YOU become the best remote worker that you can be.
5 Tips for working remotely—effectively.
1. Designate a workspace
When you think of a remote worker, where do you picture them working? Many of us have seen images of women working on their laptop at the beach, or out on their patio sipping some coffee and watching the sunrise, or even just in their pajamas on the couch. While these types of images paint a beautifully romantic version of “working from home,” for many of us this is unrealistic and leads to us being unproductive. So where are we supposed to work when we’re home?
The best advice that we’ve seen is to designate a place in which you will do work. Having a dedicated workspace helps you get work done, because, well, it’s where you get work done! Not only is it where you can work during the day, but more importantly it’s somewhere you “leave” at the end of it. This doesn’t need to be a full home-office style set-up, it can be a simple as converting the seldomly used kitchen table into your office. Wherever it is, just make sure you have enough light, space, and ideally a supportive and comfortable chair.
2. Develop a routine – and stick with it
One of the benefits and challenges of remote work is not having to leave the house. Back when we worked in office buildings, we had to wake up early enough to make coffee/breakfast/lunch, take a shower, get dressed for work, put on make-up (if that was your thing) and get out the door in time to get to work. For many in these remote times, these morning rituals have all but disappeared from our lives.
There’s something to be said of having a pre-work routine or ritual, when once done signifies the beginning of the work day. It helps you get in the right head space for work. Even something as simple as changing out of your pajamas before work (maybe even donning some “outside clothes”!) can help you get into a more productive mindset.
It’s also valuable to have a post-work routine as well, to get you out of “work-mode”. That can look like a lot of things: writing your next day’s to-do list, changing out of your work clothes, or even something as small as turning off the volume to your computer so you can’t hear email chirps or message bells will help ease you into the rest of your day.
3. Communicate, communicate, and communicate some more
The reality of remote work is that it can be incredibly isolating. Without the built in in-person social network of the workplace, it’s easy for a day to go by without communicating with anybody.
Most workplaces, or at least individual teams, have an avenue for informal and casual conversations, whether that be via text, Slack, or whatever other messenger applications your company uses. Be sure to participate in those conversations, no matter how silly or needless you think of it: not only does it provide valuable bonding, but it keeps you relevant in your coworkers’ and manager’s lives. It’s usually never a bad thing to be noticed by the manager.
In addition to maintaining your work network, it’s also important to build a personal support system on which you can lean on when you need. The isolation of remote work is real and can be incredibly detrimental not only your productivity, but also your mental and physical health. It’s always good to have systems in place for when you need them.
4. Maintain work/life boundaries
There are two tendencies that people fall into when they transition into a work-from-home situation: 1) you work more than normal because you’re in the groove of what you’re doing, or 2) you avoid working in the day because “there’s always time to make up the work later.”
Neither of these are ideal balances.
There’s no harm in taking extra long or short days periodically, but when the habit is formed it can lead to burnout (in the case of overworking), or underperforming and procrastination (in the case of delaying important tasks).
The best way to combat this is to set a schedule that suits your workstyle (and don’t forget to ask your boss if you want to work at non-traditional hours!) If you’re generally more productive in the evening, consider setting your work schedule to a 11 AM – 7 PM shift; if you’re a morning person, maybe you’d want to work 7 AM – 3 PM.
After you set your schedule though, do your best to stick to it. The beauty of remote work that allowing yourself to work when you work best—that way, not only will you work efficiently and get your work done, but you’ll have plenty of time for you when you’re done!
5. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself when it’s not going well. Remote work is hard. For many of us, it doesn’t come naturally, and it takes practice and establishing a routine to get it right. And for women who have the additional responsibility of taking care of family, it’s even harder to get right.
You’re going to have good days where you feel productive and accomplished, and you’re going to have bad days where you don’t do much. As long as you push forward despite the lows and do the best you can to be as productive as you can, you can make remote work work for you.
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