More and more companies are promoting working remotely. A 2016 Gallup study found that 43% of staff were working remotely in some capacity. This number had moved up four percentage points in a mere four years since the last study. This shows the need to optimize remote working.
What is working remotely?
Working remotely is when workers perform their daily tasks from a location removed from the brick and mortar of the company premises. In most cases people work from home, in some instances people work on the go, from coffee shops and train stations.
Remote workers can be based in a nearby area or can be located across the world. Progressive companies accept and promote remote work as a useful, modern business model that can increase productivity, save money, and allow access to talent anywhere in the world.
Why is it needed?
There are many good reasons why working remotely is a good idea. These reasons can be either to save money, boost productivity, or just because it is the right thing to do for the planet and your staff. The reasons can be drawn from the following:
- Reduced carbon footprint through less travel
- Decreased commute time which improves staff welfare
- Reduced traffic in cities which promotes more comfortable urban spaces
- Increased worker productivity and efficiency through having more time
- Higher employee morale as they feel less stressed
- Reduced employee churn as people stay where they are happy
- The company saves money on real estate and transportation costs
- Access to a growing pool of worldwide talent
- Taking better care of our planet and our living spaces
Personality type to optimize remote working
Of course this type of work is not without its challenges. Employees will have to adapt their work ethic to their new environment. It is helpful when they have certain characteristics which will optimize remote working. The following traits have to be developed:
- Be a self-starter who is motivated and independent
- Be proactive enough to unblock workflows without being told
- Have great time management skills
- Be mature and professional
- Have strong written and verbal skills to make the most of online mediums
- Be comfortable with technology
Some Dos and Don’ts of remote working
Do - Rope off your space
You might be able to work from your couch or your bed, but these areas are associated with relaxation and rest. It’s better to set aside a dedicated work space which you enter every morning and leave at your allotted time as if it was an actual office. That way you will be on duty in the work area and off duty in other areas of the house.
Do - Optimize your space
Having the right home office setup is crucial. This will make you more productive and will set the tone for a professional work approach. Here is a list of things to consider in order to optimize remote working:
- Invest in a good headset. Whether you like them wired or wireless, choose a good set for those long conference calls
- Find a quiet place to think. You might need to find that quiet space to go to when you need to crack a problem
- Have a stable Internet connection. This will be your lifeblood as you work remotely. If you don’t have one, you are totally off the map
- Get used to your conferencing software. Many are now intuitive and will be easy to work with
- Creature comforts. Are you a coffee junkie or a health nut? Having your favourite fix nearby will stop you breaking the flow of work
Do - Define your own boundaries
It’s easy to get lost in your work, especially when it’s going well. But this could burn you out. We all need to take breaks, no matter how good we feel. Set yourself time boundaries for work, rest, and play. It means also doing things like defining boundaries for work time which means shutting off social media at appropriate times.
Do - Set priorities to optimize remote working
In a traditional office, you might be led by your team workflow. You might have your work laid out for you by a manager. There may be departments waiting for your work who will visit your desk to hassle you. When working from home, you have to decide by yourself what is priority and what is not. This is a key skill.
Do - Team communication
Learn better team communication. You need to re-define what it means to be part of a team. Don’t allow yourself to disappear from the radar. In an office you can make your presence known by merely taking a walk around. Working remotely you won’t have that luxury. You will have to work on strategies to fill the gap.
Don’t - Go Invisible
A crucial part of working remotely is letting people know you are working. Early in the morning you can get on your team tool and say “Hello”. Build relationships in a new way and let people know you are there.
At lunchtime you can put out a “back in half an hour” message. Think about your colleagues, with no sight of you, they will now know to expect an answer to that urgent email if you don’t announce your movements. Don’t leave meetings hanging. Manage peoples’ expectations and let them explicitly know you are signing off until tomorrow.
Don’t - Forget about yourself while working remotely
Make sure to take care of yourself. Burnout is possible even when you work from home. Make sure that you incorporate breaks and exercise. Don’t think twice about doing some stretches on the floor next to you. Go out for a walk if possible. If you have a home gym you can get on the bike or the elliptical.
Don’t be afraid to nap. Like anything, section the time off and make sure you have accounted for it, but if it brings your energy levels up again then it can’t hurt.
There are other ways to optimize remote working such as keeping plants to bring colour to your space, or letting natural light into your room. Take your eyeballs off the screen whenever you can.
Working remotely is a great way to better use our finite resources such as time and money. It also makes for more productive and better-engaged staff members, not to mention being good for our planet. If you practice these key skills and learn the disciplines required, you will optimize remote working.