Whether you’re a gig worker or a digital nomad, a full-time employee with remote status or an onsite employee suddenly asked to work from home, here are eight tricks to getting the work done well, keeping pace with your colleagues and peers, and taking care of yourself in the process.
Here are the 8 tricks you need to be an excellent remote worker:
1. Dress the part. It can be tempting when you’re working from home to stay in your sweats all day, but it’s worth taking the time to feel polished. Put on a crisp shirt and slip on some dress shoes. Not only do you feel like you’ve made that essential shift from relaxing-at-home to kicking-ass-at-home, you’re always ready to jump on a last-minute video call with a colleague or client.
2. Invest in an ergo setup. Once in a while, it’s a nice change of pace to work at the kitchen counter or from the couch (just like once in a while you can justify staying in your jammies). But if you’re working at home regularly, it’s important to make sure your workstation is on point. That means using an external monitor in addition to your laptop, making sure it’s at eye level, adding a keyboard that allows your hands to rest naturally, and using an external mouse to keep your wrists and forearms healthy. Use an ergonomic chair and be mindful of your posture.
3. Keep your calendar current. To avoid having someone in the office or at a different location ever wonder where you are, make sure your calendar is always up to date and accurate. Whether you’re on a work call or stepping out on a quick walk to clear your head, throwing a busy status on your calendar can help keep people appraised of your availability.
4. Know when to step away from your desk. Don’t make the mistake of being chained to your desk. When you’re not present in an office, it can be tempting to go to extreme measures to ensure you’re constantly available for colleagues and clients. But as a remote worker, you need a break once in a while as much as someone working at HQ. Be sure to carve out time to recharge your battery with a walk, a workout or an actual sit-down lunch – just err on the side of transparency.
5. Get creative with team meetings. In the interest of changing the scenery and getting some fresh air, consider scheduling a call instead of a video conference so you can take a walk while catching up with a colleague. Just like you might step out of the office with a teammate, head outside with your earbuds and carry on with your conversation. If you need to follow an agenda, use a checklist on your phone or a notecard in your pocket to reference along the way.
6. Figure out how you focus best. Sometimes the silence of working from home can be deafening. If having background noise helps you dial in, queue up a chill playlist. If the sounds of construction outside your window are distracting, wear noise-cancelling headphones. And, by all means, if your roommate or kids are home, find a way to keep the interruptions to a minimum.
7. Lean heavily on to-do lists. Without the typical rhythms of office life, like the halls bustling every hour on the hour as people walk between meetings, working at home can feel like one big, overwhelming swath of time. Write a to-do list for yourself in order of priority – tackling your hardest project first, of course – each morning and don’t diverge from it. Do the same thing at the end of the day so you know exactly where to start in the morning.
8. Honor quitting time. Working from home can be a blessing and a curse, but there are ways to make it more of the first. When your place of work is also your place of rest and relaxation, it can be much harder to set boundaries. It can even feel like you’re never fully working…but never fully relaxing either, which is bad for everyone – especially you. The key is this: When you’re working, go all in. And when it’s time to quit, close your laptop and walk away. That list you made for first-thing tomorrow will be waiting for you, which is half the battle.
Additional Work from Home Resources: