Working remotely involves performing job duties from a home-based office or another location outside of an office part or all of the time. Specific types of roles allow for this flexibility, such as coding, writing, billing, and sales work. These days, workers have taken their laptops and office equipment and set up somewhere other than their company’s home office to perform their jobs virtually. Working remotely has suddenly shifted to become more of the norm for many corporate jobs. Understanding the tools and tactics that help remote workers succeed can improve your remote project management.
What is the best way to work remotely?
Working remotely isn’t for everyone and not every job can be done in a secluded setting. If you are someone who has found a remote job, or if your current role has transitioned to be mostly or fully remote, there are ways to make the best of this modern scenario. Taken from those who have done this successfully for years, there is plenty of advice for maximizing productivity and making a remote work lifestyle work in your favor.
1. Set up a dedicated office space
Work from anywhere sometimes (think coffee shop, the property you are housesitting) but create a dedicated workspace that is your office and that you have control over consistently. This includes being able to manage sound, lighting, and any distractions from people, pets, and visitors.
2. Reduce distractions
From kids, to pets, neighbors, and your phone, there are so many distractions that can take your attention away from work. Reducing distractions can be challenging. Having a plan goes a long way in establishing a work-from-home utopia. Consider designating a room or corner of the house as your workspace, and try setting up a signal so others know you’re working.
3. Create a routine
Set a schedule that includes work time and break time, including time to eat lunch and snacks. Little or no breaks will only lead to an overworked and unfocused individual who struggles to catch up.
4. Use tools
There are many tools available that make working remotely seamless. Scheduling, time management, project planning, and communication tools allow remote workers to stay connected in real time with their teams and management.
5. Stay professional
Don’t get lazy, get up and get dressed, and ready for the day like you would if you were headed out. The lack of in person or camera time for every meeting is not an invitation to work from under the covers. Preparing for work as you would if you were meeting people in person can have a positive effect on mood and overall productivity.
6. Manage your time
Show up early to meetings, block work time on your calendar, and don’t overbook yourself. Just because you are working at home does not mean you need to be available at all hours of the day. Set office hours and stick to them. Notify co-workers that you will get back to them the next day for any requests after a certain time of the day and when you might be unavailable during the work day.
7. Over Communicate
The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” rings true here. Be persistent, yet professional in your communications, and document in writing anything of importance that you may have to trace back to later for proof or confirmation.
8. Look for training opportunities
We can all benefit from ongoing training and learning new skills to improve knowledge and move up in an organization. Companies may offer ongoing virtual training opportunities or you can seek them out on your own through career support services and job sites.
9. Get outside
It is easy to sit at your desk for call after call, multitasking and working on a variety of things. Take one of your scheduled breaks outside and get some fresh air and sunshine. Take a short walk or run, walk the dogs, or just enjoy not staring at a computer screen and take in the sights on a fair weather day.
10. Socialize with coworkers
Participate in company sponsored events like happy hours or on site meetings if you can, or plan an in-person, non-work-related get together for a drink or dinner to get to know the people you work with in person.
Tips for teams to work well together remotely
Remote teams often are heads-down busy, jumping from task to task or meeting to meeting. These helpful tips for remote teams will keep everyone working well together and breaking out of the solitary silo.
- Host 1:1 meetings to check in with individuals and get a sense of how they are doing, what they need, and what they may be struggling with.
- Utilize collaboration software to keep things connected and moving forward.
- Team communication software like Microsoft Teams and Slack allow people to ask questions, share files and links, group chat, and quickly get the information they need just like they would if they were in a physical office setting.
- Video conferencing software like Zoom, Hangouts, or Skype are essential for video meetings, recordings, sharing screens, and participation by groups.
- Cloud storage and file sharing services like OneDrive and Box make it easy to create and share files of any size all in one virtual location.
- Collaboration tools like Google Suite, Office 365 and Confluence provide dedicated space for teams to share and save files.
- Project management tools like Asana, Smartsheet, and Basecamp make managing projects and all the related tasks easy from anywhere.
- Time tracking tools like Harvest may benefit your organization by tracking the time by key employees, contractors and vendors to identify profit and loss scenarios.
- Development and design tools like GitLab and Bamboo are great for creating deliverables and versions of visual elements and code to store and share with reviewers and approvers.
Most of all, make remote employees feel like part of the team. The more you can communicate, make them visible, and include remote team members in all parts of the business, the more successful your team will be.