Working remotely is the new big thing!
Updated: May 13, 2020
3 top tips for working from home.
Of course, remote work has been a 'thing' for some time now - there are many job hunting websites out there already which cater exclusively to the remote work market, but since COVID-19 and the great lockdown of 2020, more and more people are realising that working from home is not only possible, but perhaps even preferable! (Disclaimer: Remote working is only preferable when the kids are back at school. Nobody likes trying to maintain a good output with two small people waging World War III at their feet.)
In the lockdown spirit, then, I share with you my three top tips for getting the most out of remote working.
Top Tip #1 - Make a working space that works for you.
Having your own space to work in is important for two reasons. The first is psychological. If you have a space that is exclusively reserved for work, you are much more likely to be productive in it. When I first set up, I tried to work in the kitchen, because it was the biggest, brightest room. Unfortunately, it was also the room with the fridge in it (duh!) I found myself stopping often to make a brew, or to grab a snack. Then, while I was nibbling away on my snack (and those snacks were never healthy), I would just pop onto Facebook for a peek, or check out the Guardian to see what was happening in the world. All of a sudden, you’ve fallen into an internet hole of non-productivity. Now I have a room for working. It wasn’t easy, because the house is full of kids and toys, but I carved myself out a small space where I can close the door and work. My productivity has soared! (I’d love to say my waistline has shrunk too, but softly softly and all that!)
The second reason is physical health. If you are working off your normal, everyday furniture, you are unlikely to be able to make adjustments which are necessary to spend eight hours a day working off it! In your own work room you can have the right furniture for the job, whether that’s a standing desk or a screen guard to stop you from suffering from all that glare.
Top Tip #2 – Organise thyself.
I’m a huge fan of lists. It’s probably from all those years of teaching. I salivate over a post-it. I drool over those little sticky page markers! I have been known to secretly spend money I don’t really have on really nice highlighters.
For me, the key to good organisation is a list.
Making use of SaaS can really come in handy here – and it doesn’t have to break the bank. I loved Wunderlist while it still existed – it allowed me to make and share lists, to organise lists in whichever order felt best to me, and to set it up to send me reminders both on my phone and in Google Calendar. Wunderlist is gone now, and its successor, Microsoft To-Do isn’t cutting the mustard in my humble (ha!) opinion. I’ve been using Todoist for a week or so now, and so far it’s looking good. It allows me to personalise and organise my lists in a way which makes sense to me – and surely that is the best thing about a good list? It’s so personal to the person writing it.
Top Tip #3 – Connect!
The problem with remote work is that you can end up feeling rather…well, remote. A big part of the fun of work comes from the connections you make with the people around you, and when you’re in your home office, the only person at the water cooler is you!
Fortunately, there is a way around this, and it comes, once again, from the SaaS industry. There are endless ways to connect with colleagues no matter where they are. Perhaps the best known is Slack, which works as an IM system. It is great for letting people know if you’re at your desk or not, and for firing off quick questions. It also allows you to organise your chats, so you only see what is relevant to you. Slack is the big one. You should get to know it.
On the less well known side of the scale are apps like KnowYourTeam.com, which can cover H.R. type necessities such as 1-2-1 meetings, but also has lovely little ideas like sensing out icebreaker questions to share with your work-mates, or social questions which help you to build rapport. Another one to look out for is Donut.com, which is designed to promote social interactions for remote workers, by sending them out for remote lunches, for example. They’re really good fun and well worth a peek.
Well, here endeth the lesson. I’d love to hear your top tips for working remotely. What do you do to stay productive? How to you remind yourself to stop and take a break each day? Are there any AMAZING pieces of software that you just can’t get along without?
Let me know in the comments below.