Remote Working Tips – How can you be your best working from home?

Do not stop doing what you would do in the office.

Working from home or even remotely is a way of life and for millions of people around the globe a deliberate choice. In times of Covid-19 a lot of people are forced into home office and some are not comfortable with it. I embraced home office already during my time as an employee and took it a step further as I became a freelancer and started to work fully remote. For me it’s a choice and a blessing, but I can relate to people who cannot imagine working away from the comfort and familiarity of their offices and co-workers.

In the US remote working is already very common, recent surveys show that approximately 5% of the US total workforce already work location independent (see also my previous post). The “new work” concept only slowly arrives in other countries around the globe – something that might change in the near future given the current circumstances. And a lot of people might want to hold on to it. The reasons are not surprising. A survey of the jobsite www.monster.com states that a better work-life-balance, increased productivity/better focus, less stress and to avoid a commute are the main drivers for people to favor working from home.

Communication is key

But how can you be your best working from home? From my experience self-motivation, self-discipline, time management and most importantly communication are some key factors to be successful. I figured that I’m much more productive working on my own terms with no distractions and the chance to really focus on the task at hand. And you get tech savvy if you cannot just quickly walk over and chat to your colleague or boss. You learn to use tools (from logging your time to communication) and you also streamline your messages. Keep it short and clear and don’t spam your co-workers’ inboxes.  No matter if texting, skyping, emailing or meeting your colleagues online – cut out the noise!

My advice is do not stop doing what you would do in the office. Have your brainstorm sessions over your lunch break, use the manifold technology available to stay in touch and most importantly deliver! Face time with your team is even more important when you’re not present physically. Be accountable, proactive, engage and pick up the phone rather than sending an email. But also make it a habit to be responsive – even if it is only a short reply like “I got this covered” or “I will be back with an answer today/tomorrow”. Schedule regular check-ins with your superiors and keep them updated on your progress or on what you’re working on.

Keep it professional

Another important thing is to keep it professional – no matter if you work from your kitchen table or at a desk in your home. Have a dedicated workspace and don’t be tempted to do your work-out sessions during working hours or switch on the TV. Behave as you would in an office environment. Therefore, also set your working hours: Schedule your coffee and lunch break and switch off your computer and your phone at the end of the day. The downside of working from home or remotely is that you tend to forget when it’s time to stop. Your working hours and your private time are blurred, and it is easy to mix both.

To master these challenging times and the new way of working – don’t lose your stride and get shit done. Great work can be done from anywhere!

Here is a list of tools I use to be productive no matter where I am on this planet. There are many others out there, but I liked these the most:

  • A stable internet connection that can cope with long conference calls
  • Zoom
  • Basecamp
  • Jira
  • Slack
  • Trello
  • Todoist & iDoneThis
  • Google Suite
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Skype

Remote Work in times of a global health crisis

Working from home – blessing or curse? Image by Austin Distel on Unsplash

As much as the current situation scares people, it can also change the way we work. Covid-19 could have a permanent impact on how companies operate, or people work. It´s a blessing in disguise I´d say. As much as I vote for new work, I also see the problems that arise with it not being a choice for most but them being forced into working from home.

Speaking to several IT savvy friends just recently they also pointed out the difficulties for some companies who are not prepared for it. Systems will crack they say, it will be a problem especially for companies whose employees are usually safeguarded by corporate networks and have to connect over virtual private networks now. This might cause a real problem for the IT infrastructure of most companies. Furthermore, internet providers might not be able to supply the bandwidth needed. Peak traffic will increase and with schools being suspended as well, there will be even more internet users during the day. Time will tell if we (or the internet providers) are prepared for this.

One good thing about the whole situation – besides that people really start to care about each other and support each other – is the opportunity for companies and employees alike to build a remote work culture or at least some more flexibility. And companies like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Trello and a few more have already reacted to support remote work and offer some of their services for free for the time being.

I’ve been working remotely for a few years now and I do love the flexibility and productivity that comes with it. And to be honest, the most important thing is that the work gets done – within an office or at your desk somewhere else. The key to be successful with location independent work is to be organized, structured and to have your communication right. Speak to your co-workers and to your boss on a regular basis, like you would do in the office. Keep up the casual conversations and the chat in the coffee corner. But most importantly: Keep spirits up and get your shit done! Don’t see remote work as a ticket for being sluggish because nobody is watching.

I will share some tips and tools shortly that helped me a lot to structure my remote work life. Stay tuned.