Top 5 Curated Tips For Working Remotely

Nancy Pautsch    Nancy.Pautsch@envisionitllc.com
July 22, 2015

Recently, I called in to a web conference and was joined by five others from around the country.  As we were doing introductions, it occurred to me that everyone in the meeting was working remotely, outside of their office – in the car, coffee shop, customer location and home.  According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, for the period from 2005 to 2012, the telecommuter population grew by 79.7%.  Looking across organizations now, workplace figures (ASTD, SHRM) show between 30 to 45 percent of the average organization working remotely.  

With so many people working remotely and companies aggressively pursuing enablement strategies, we wanted to collect the best tips from around the web for remote workers.  As we scoured resources, there were a variety of different tips, as well as a few consistent ones.  We took these consistent views and added our own tech twist.  If you work remotely, even just a little, let us know your personal best practices for a productive day away from the office. 

Eliminate Distractions, Embrace Focus

When working in the office, we have so many meetings and impromptu discussions, most days feel like your workday actually starts at 5pm.  This can be the same when working remotely, particularly if family is around during the day.  Whether in the office or remote, be sure to minimize distractions by controlling your surroundings.  Even simple things - like 1) having dedicated office space, 2) utilizing shelves instead of counter space to store work items and 3) shutting a door – can go a long way to eliminating distractions.

With that being said, embrace the opportunity to focus.  One of the biggest benefits of working remotely is the choice to isolate yourself for a select time and get stuff done.  So, make the choice daily to zone in and embrace focus. 

Have A Time Routine, Not A Location One

Humans are creatures of habit; routines give us comfort and stability. This is why it’s a good idea to have a work-day routine that you follow consistently. It also helps make you more predictable and available to team-mates, who quickly get a sense for your rhythm and daily pace.

With a time routine, your internal clock and teammate communication patterns are in a rhythm.  With that, I’ve found moving around to different locations gives my mind a sense of freedom and creativity otherwise lost sitting in a single location – even an office.  The beauty of working remotely is that can be anywhere.  Get out to different locations to give your mind a different perspective. 

Communicate Often, With Everyone

When you’re working remotely, you quickly realize how many times you lean to your neighbor or walk down the hall to ask a question or provide feedback.  Going further, in a remote setting, your supervisors (and teammates) will not know when you’re working on something unless you tell them.  Then, when you realize this, a good amount of communication may feel unnatural because you don’t want to "bother" anyone or seem too needy. But nothing galvanizes people more than working within a connected team.So, use the tools available to connect with team members and provide active feedback with superiors.  From internal portals and wikis to instant message and phone (note how I didn’t list email!), the tools are available (sometimes free) to work from anywhere and connect with everyone.  

Get Dressed, Use Video

Although it’s nice to have the option to wear your comfy sweats and giant glasses all day, getting dressed makes us feel more confident and doesn’t throw us off when we have to go to the office or a client meeting. 

An added benefit to getting dressed ties in with item three, communication.  Video technology is pervasive in most organizations (and free with tools like Google Hangouts), yet is grossly underutilized.  Most often, organizations use an integrated meeting system simply as a phone bridge.  Get dressed, use video to talk with co-workers, partners and customers, build relationships faster. 

Persevere (Stay Motivated), Remind Others Why You Work

It’s actually scientifically proven that when we learn new tasks or take on challenges, mental agony is a natural sidekick. This can be especially draining when we have no one around to talk to or bounce ideas off of.  But, afterward, we feel a rewarding sense of accomplishment and our brains are stronger for having gone through the exertion.  It’s so crucial to understand just how impactful acknowledgement—of yourself and of others—can immensely affect performance and productivity.  So, when you finish a big task, celebrate your accomplishment through sharing it with your team.

Although you’re remote, schedule time with colleagues and friends to reinvigorate ideas and not lose sight of personal and organizational aspirations.  These conversations will keep goals aligned, communication flowing and motivation to continue moving forward.  

Resources: 

Tags: BYOD, Mobility, Technology