Remote working continues to gain popularity in organizations of all types, sizes, and industries. Once considered a novelty, it’s quickly becoming the norm for a large percentage of the workforce.
While the benefits of working from a remote location are plentiful (for both the employee and the employer), it isn’t without its challenges. Productivity and communication with teammates and managers can suffer without the right tools and intentional focus.
Luckily, there are numerous tips, best practices, and resources to keep productivity levels high and communication channels open. Here are nine of the best remote work productivity tips for boosting your ability to work effectively.
1. Create the right environment
Wherever you choose to work, your environment should create a subconscious cue that you’re “at work.” If the couch is your comfort zone and where you spend your downtime, your brain will naturally want to slip into relaxation mode if you try to work from there. Instead, create a dedicated space with an ergonomic chair and desk, good lighting, and the right vibe to be able to focus on your work.
For digital nomads who move around frequently, you may not be able to set up a home office environment, but you can check out local co-working spaces and bring along your own subconscious “office supplies” like noise-canceling headphones or a posture-boosting chair cushion that subtly nudge your brain that it’s time to shift into work mode.
2. Use apps to coordinate
With the proliferation of remote workers and digital nomads into the workforce, technology companies have stepped up with a wide array of communication and collaboration tools. From document sharing to project management dashboards and video chat platforms, it has never been easier for remote workers to stay organized and connected with their teammates, managers, or clients.
3. Plan regular follow-ups
If you’re worried about the issue of “out of sight, out of mind” with your management team or co-workers, setting a regular meeting to connect with your team is a simple way to stay in the loop on any home office information you may have missed, and to sync on the top priorities for your team. It’s also a great way to share the progress you’ve made on projects and ask for clarity on any questions you might have. Whenever possible, use video to schedule your calls for a more personal connection.
4. Stick to a schedule
No matter where in the world you happen to be working, it is imperative that you create a schedule for your work and stick to it. Treat it with the same respect and priority that you would an in-office job. Sit down at the beginning of the week and plan our meetings, projects, and goals for each day. Don’t overschedule yourself– leave room for ad hoc tasks and minor scheduling adjustments. In doing so, you won’t run the risk of falling so far off track that you feel discouraged and become unproductive.
5. Eliminate distractions
It is easy to get distracted when you’re working from home or another remote location. Whether it’s a load of laundry, daytime television, or a book you’ve been dying to read, distractions are abundant and scream for your attention. The first step in avoiding distractions is to be aware of them. If you can’t resist watching your television, turn it off or remove it from your line of sight. If the laundry pile is calling to you from the other room, schedule time in your calendar to address it, either on a break or before or after work.
6. Break bad habits
Everyone develops habits over time that reduce productivity and prevent us from doing our best. Maybe you can’t resist looking at every text message that pops up on your phone, or maybe you spend too much time smoking, snacking, or checking social media. Whatever the habit, much like distractions, acknowledge that it’s an area you’d like to change and make a conscious effort to resist temptation.
7. Don’t forget to take breaks
Surprisingly, remote work productivity goes up when workers take regular breaks. While you might think you’ll get more done by doggedly sitting in one place all day, you’ll actually be more focused and productive if you step away for intentionally scheduled breaks. Eat lunch. Take a quick walk around the block. Whatever activity you choose, use it as a way to re-center and return to your desk with renewed energy and focus.
8. Design your optimal workday
One of the biggest benefits of working remotely is the freedom to design your ideal workday. As long as your employer is on board with a little flexibility, you can determine the hours when you are most productive and do your best work, and design your schedule to match. Many people feel more focused in the early morning. Others, late in the evening. Make your self available during core business hours for important meetings and calls, and then experiment with working hours throughout the rest of the day to maximize productivity.
9. Try a change of venue
It’s amazing how a simple change of scenery can give your creativity and energy levels a jolt. Try working from a coffee shop or cafe one week and a park or co-working space the next. Be aware of possible distractions, but test a few locations to see how they impact your mood and productivity.
There is no secret formula of productivity for remote workers or digital nomads, but these nine tips are a great start. Don’t be afraid to experiment with environments, applications, and schedules that work for you as an individual. Above all, treat your remote workday with the same respect and structure that you would a day in the office, and you’ll set yourself up for success.
Interested to improve your remote work experience even further? Take a look at our Top Tips For Effective Remote Team Management post.