The new normal has many of us working off-site. In this post-pandemic world, millions of people have found themselves navigating the waters of distance work.
Working remotely sounds like every person’s dream job until they have to do it long-term.
Sure, there are incredible perks, like no commute and sleeping in those extra few minutes! But you also have to be able to motivate yourself and avoid distractions.
The right work environment can fix a lot of the problems that come with distance jobs. Here are seven top expert-recommended remote workspace tips and why you need to bring them into your home now.
1. Make a Quiet Space
You know those little tiny interruptions that don’t seem to take that long?
They cost you a lot more time than you realize.
Studies show that every distraction that takes you away from your work requires 23 minutes to recover from! That’s a lot of wasted productivity for a problem or question that could have waited.
If you want to be successful while working remotely, you need a place to do your job that is distraction-free. A house that gives you this benefit is the best solution. But if your home is a happy circus, you might need to consider going to a coffee shop or another off-site location.
2. Invest in Your Technology
In a professionally run company, your employer will provide you the tools you need to do your job wherever you are. That’s not always the case, though.
Your computer is now your most important work tool. If it’s slow, you’re the one paying the price. It’s worth investing in your technology to help you be more productive and efficient.
If possible, upgrade to a computer, either a laptop or desktop, whichever you prefer, that has a faster processor and lots of memory.
Your wireless provider impacts your computer’s speed, too. Check your WiFi setting and make sure it can handle the extra demand. If not, consider an upgrade or switching to a new provider.
3. Stick to a Routine
A flexible schedule is one of the best perks of remote work. It can also be your worst enemy to productivity.
The best way to ensure you treat your new employment location as a real job is to establish routines. Just as if you were leaving to head to the office, work your day on a set schedule.
This means that you should go to bed and get up at a consistent time. Don’t hit the alarm half a dozen times because you don’t have the commute anymore. Go ahead and get up. Use that extra time to do those things you always wanted to do but didn’t have time for!
Get dressed and take care of your hygiene. Add a short workout session or motivational reading/podcast time into your morning.
Set a start and end time and do your best to stick to it. Let your friends, family, boss, and coworkers know your schedule for your personal and work life. This way, they’ll be less likely to interrupt your day.
4. Keep Your Work/Home Life Separate
Have you noticed your friends and family members asking you to put your work aside to help them with something “important?”
If not, you will soon.
To those around you who aren’t in the same boat, “working remotely” often sounds like “doesn’t really have to do anything.” This is especially true if your job lets you set a flexible schedule, and you don’t have strict boundaries.
Make it a point to keep your home and work life separate. Communicate with those around you and let them know when it’s okay to ask for your time and when it’s not.
Your office area should be clutter-free, too, to avoid distractions and look professional in video meetings. Don’t bring your personal things into your workspace unless you would also do so at your on-site job.
5. Use Time Management Strategies
Time management is now more critical than ever. It’s easy to over-or under-work when you’re setting your own pace.
Unless you’re diligent about ignoring distractions, a task- and time- management strategy is going to be your best friend.
Many successful entrepreneurs recommend time management techniques like these:
- The Pomodoro Technique – Set a timer for 45 minutes (or a time of your choice), work focused the entire time, take a short break, repeat.
- Time Trackers – Download an app to track exactly what you’re doing throughout the day. Then, start blocking those pesky time-sucking websites.
- The Time Management Matrix – Use the four-quadrant system to break your tasks up into their relevant importance. Put out the fires and visualize projects to avoid procrastination.
- Gantt Charts – Perfect for those who have many projects going on, this visual to-do list charts tasks versus deadlines. Gantt is the original method, but they use the same idea in free programs like Trello.
If you’re unsure which strategy will work the most efficiently with your style, play around with them all. When you find one that fits, use it consistently.
6. Be Okay With Being Alone
If you came from an office full of socializing, unexpectedly working from home can be challenging.
You don’t have to be a social butterfly to feel the effects of isolation. We’re all social creatures by nature. Not everyone thrives in a remote workspace environment.
However, if this is your new norm, you have to learn to be okay with being alone and communicating from a distance.
These are some ways you can integrate socializing and distance work successfully:
- Set a lunch date with friends or coworkers, even if it’s via Zoom. Make it a consistent day or days, so you have something to look forward to.
- Reach out to someone you care about every day over the phone. FaceTime, Messenger, Hangouts, and other video software are free.
- Send supportive emails or texts to others. This opens the line of communication, makes you feel good, and usually generates a response.
- Make room for quality time with your family. Often, when we’re busy or stressed, it’s our loved ones who suffer. Spend time doing something fun with them a few times a week. Quality is more important than quantity.
While socializing and connecting is important, you also have to be okay with being by yourself. The days can stretch on monotonously. When you’re your only company, it’s essential to like yourself!
7. Get to Know Your Preferred Work Style
Some people have to have background noise to be at their best, while others can’t work unless it’s silent.
When you’re working remotely, you’re probably going to end up in multiple environments. It’s tempting to work from the couch or your bed, sit in front of the TV, or head outside.
As you try all these different styles, you’ll notice which ones work and which waste time. It’s okay to take a couple of weeks and do a trial-and-error experiment. This is the perfect chance to get to know how you are most productive.
Pro tip: Your style might not be what you think it is, and it absolutely might not be what “experts” suggest. If it’s working for you and you’re more productive than ever — go with it!
Remote working has quickly become a typical job environment today.
If you can overcome the challenges by using these tips, you might unexpectedly find yourself working your dream job!
Ryan Sundling is a Group Marketing Manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over ten years of experience in the student housing industry and works with Sakara on a daily basis to grow their online presence.