Working remotely is an attractive prospect. No need to commute to the office. Not a chance of being pulled into an unnecessary meeting. Nigh on impossible to be interrupted unexpectedly by colleagues. Perhaps the opportunity to spend some more time with the kids, or catch up on those extra life admin jobs that need doing. There are many reasons why one might consider swapping the view from the office for a view of your own choosing.
In this era where striving for a balance between work and life is climbing the priorities of both sexes, indeed millennials are starting to demand it as a working practice, and some places are even trying a 6 hour work day, employers are having to become more open to remote working and finding ways to enable the business to work effectively at a location other than the company office.
If working remotely is an option for you, how can you best uphold your end of the deal and deliver on your responsibilities to the business? What are the tricks to remaining effective out of the office? Here are my top tips for working remotely...
Allow yourself to focus
Working at home breaks down the separation from your personal life that comes with closing the front door on the way to the office, so don’t swap distractions in the office for distractions at home. To work effectively at home you have to create a both a productive space to be in and a productive frame of mind. Having a dedicated working space, kept tidy and free from non-work related items in a quiet part of the house allows me to focus on the task in hand. And dressing smartly whilst I work (even though nobody might see me) allows me to achieve the right mind set.
Establish a routine
When you are working remotely it is actually quite easy to put off doing the work. The flexibility it affords is tempting; catching up on something from the weekend, taking the dog for walk, maybe even doing the laundry. There are plenty of things at home to get in the way of work. Establishing a routine will help keep you centred on work activities. I work the same hours as if I were in the office so that I am contactable by clients and colleagues. If you need to have a different structure to your day, think about the time that you will have available to work and utilise it effectively – use the time saved on commuting and hunting for lunch to complete the extra tasks.
Plan your day
Having identified a suitable routine, write a plan of what you want to achieve. What activity is best to achieve with the time and the space you have created by working remotely? Having a plan will help you keep on track and not be diverted by the distractions that will no doubt creep into your day. Planning your day will also allow for a smooth transition from office to home work. Will you have everything you need to complete the work you intend to do? I write my plan at the end of the previous day, ready to pick up fresh the next day.
Don't forget to exercise
Your work will no doubt stimulate your mind, but keeping a healthy body is important for effective working too. Without a commute to take you outside it is a good idea to find time to get out of your work and living space into some fresh air, even if it just for a walk. Take advantage of the flexibility and go to the gym if you have been putting it off. Working non-stop can also be ineffective. Take regular breaks to remain fresh. (I tend to work in 45-50 minute blocks; experiment and see what works for you.)
Engage with the office
Whilst you are not in the office, you are still working, so communication with the other team members is key to making remote working a success. You should not be an absent figure and other team members should feel as though they can contact you. In practice, this can be difficult to achieve, but worth pursuing as not communicating effectively can damage projects and relationships. My team and clients know that they can get hold of me whenever they need to talk. Being an active and contributing member of the business whilst working remotely is underlying in the responsibly entrusted to you along with the flexibility.
Interested in flexible working?
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Read more on flexible working and the 6 hour work day.