5 Tips for remote working
When I first started working away from an office on a regular basis, one of the first things I did was google ‘working from home hacks’ and ‘tips for working remotely’.
Pinterest showed me just how unattainably beautiful my home-work station could look (I knew that this would never happen) and Instagram bombarded me with pictures of tanned legs on Bali beaches balancing laptops and mojitos. #lifegoals.
I’ve been a fully flexible worker for almost two years. Prior to that I’d been office based with very occasional WFH days – with the inevitable guilt that came with that, fueled by some unhelpful co-workers.
There are a few things I’ve learned along the way that have helped me be more organised and more productive in my new office-optional lifestyle.
Here’s my top 5, but I’d love to hear from you what you would share with other remote working newbies.
1 – Eat lunch.
I’ll admit it- I’m food-obsessed. However, this is something that so many of us simply forget about when we’re heads down cracking out a presentation that NEEDS to be done by 5pm.
(note: the world has yet to end for want of a powerpoint – and in my experience, 5pm normally means 9:30am the next day).
We all skip lunch – or worse, eat it over our computer.
Taking time to eat your lunch (even if it’s a sandwich) away from where you’re working has been key to helping me feel like my day has some structure. If you’re working from a single room flat, go outside. Find a park. Failing that, turn the laptop off, silence the phone and stick the TV on for 30 minutes while you chew.
More structure in your day will help you know when you’re working and when you’re not. Plus, a light healthy lunch will give you the energy to power through the afternoon. Before you know it that powerpoint will be done by 4pm.
2 – Invest in a better work station
Half the time I work from the kitchen table, and I’m sure this is how many of us create our first home office. There’s nothing wrong with this (especially if we’re short on space), but a relatively small amount of money spent on things like a laptop stand and a keyboard can make the difference between looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame at the end of the week or someone with actual shoulders (in the right place).
Top Tip: if you’re working for a company, they are required to ensure your working environment is fit for purpose.
3 – Get up and walk
Sitting is the new smoking from a health perspective. If we’re not feeling great, or our limbs are falling asleep then there’s no way we’re going to be turning in good work. So download an app to remind you to move (if that’s what works for you) and don’t ignore it!
Personally, when I’m feeling at my least productive, a 5-minute walk around the block is often all I need to get myself back into the groove…
4 – Use the right tools for the job
There’s a temptation to believe that Apple, Microsoft and Google are the beginning and end of the workplace software ecosystem… the reality is that there’s a huge world of software platforms and apps out there to make your remote working life easier.
We’ll probably write some more on this topic again soon, but right off the bat, I’d recommend you look at WhereBy for video conference meetings (if like me you hate Skype) and Slack for communicating with the rest of your team.
For freelancers there are a host of apps to help with time management, invoicing and communication. Most of them are free to try, so maybe testing a new one every week or so could lead you to find the perfect toolkit.
If you work for a company that insists you use some antiquated or fiddly bit of software now’s your chance to earn points by showing your employers how much more they could get done with the right tools!
5 – Know when to stop
Companies love employing remote workers because they’ve worked out how much more they get out of the deal. They don’t have to pay for office space, or utilities. They don’t have to subsidise your lunch or your commute and they know that statistically remote workers are more productive than their office-based colleagues.
The temptation to start work an hour earlier (in place of the commute) and finish an hour later can be huge – especially when starting out.
If you’re OK with this, then go for it! Just remember why you chose to work from home. It’s difficult to reap the rewards of a good work-life balance when you’re working through the ‘life’ part of it.
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