Remote working isn’t for everyone – it’s one of those ‘love it or hate it’ things. Personally, I love it and I’ve been doing it for six years now. Many people assume working from home is easy, or a cop-out, which it really isn’t. However, like anything in life, it takes some tweaking and work to get it right.
Here’s six things you can do to set yourself up for success when working remotely:
1) Have Your Own Space
Working in the place you’re living can mean there becomes a large blur between the two. This, if you’re not careful, can mean you’re tempted to do long hours, and generally make your work/life balance a nightmare.
The way around this is to have your own room, or, if that’s not possible, a dedicated space in a room, which is exclusively for work. I’m fortunate that I have an outside office – this creates a place where I can really concentrate, but also literally lock up and leave at the end of the day.
Whatever your set up – make sure you only use the space/room/area for work. Not only does this help you transition from work to personal life at the end of the day, but it helps massively in the morning transitioning from personal life to work. Basically you’re conditioning yourself to be able to switch on/off ‘work mode’ easily.
2) Be Strict With Your Hours
When you leave an office for the day, you’re basically done (admittedly there is the temptation of checking emails on your phone). It creates a clear division between work and home.
When your home is also your workspace though, it can sometimes feel strange ending your day. Your computer is still there, and if you’re working with other remoters, they may well be online still (especially for different timezones). So it becomes tempting to do ‘just a little bit more’, or to do work in the evenings or the weekend.
Get strict with yourself early on – don’t go down that route. Set yourself and your co-workers boundaries about your time and your life.
More hours does not equal better work – it just dilutes what you do and eats in to your personal time.
Anyone can work more hours, there’s no skill to it. There is, however, a skill in focussing your mental energy into your most important work, during your strongest hours of the day.
3) Manage Other People
I’m not referring to managing teams here but people in your personal life. you’ll find when you start working remotely that people think they can just drop in to see you/ring you whenever they want. I don’t think other people realise that just because you’re in your home, that you’re still working.
Make sure you set boundaries and rules with them (whilst being polite!), otherwise you’ll get visitors in the middle of a big work project.
4) Manage Distractions
Here’s some of the distractions you could face when working remotely:
- Other people in your home
- Phone ringing
- Social media
- What’s going on outside
- That bar of chocolate you’re supposed to be keeping
- The lure of Netflix
- Realising your house needs cleaning
It’s vital to set yourself rules and boundaries. I think for anyone who works remote, regardless of how committed they are, the first few months are quite tough. There’s a lot to get used to and it’s a case of finding what works for you. After a while you’ll find that the novelty wears off, and it’s just simply a different way of working than going into an office.
5) Keep It Clean
Whilst I’m not suggesting anyone reading this is a slob, if you’ve come from an office background, you’re used to having a cleaner come in each week/day/whenever. If you work remotely, it’s all on you!
It can be tempting to get slack with keeping your office or workspace clean and tidy.
Get into the habit of putting everything away, making sure it’s all clean at the end of the working day. I
6) Make It The Best Place To Work Ever
The beauty of working remotely is you can have your workspace set up exactly how you want. Not only that, but you can change it whenever you want. You’ve got full control over what’s in it, what it looks like, what music is/isn’t on, what smells there are, whether it’s hot or cold. It’s great!
Some things to consider:
- Laptop or PC set up – this includes monitors. Make sure the setup is ergonomic and comfortable
- Plants – great to have in the office – they look great and they’re really relaxing to be around
- Invest in a good chair and desk – your back will thank you for it
- Clear or cluttered? I like a really clear workspace, minimalist ftw! Work out whether you want something with loads of stuff everywhere, or something more spartan
- Noise – figure out if you prefer something like a Sonos, or music via headphones (by the way, well worth shelling out for some decent ones like Bose QCs, they pay dividends when you’re trying to concentrate)
- Pictures and photos – I’ve put up a couple of Basquiat canvcas prints in my office, and a big canvas of the Golden Gate Bridge. Or maybe you like plain walls, or some wacky wallpaper. Whatever works for you is best.
Working remotely can be absolutely amazing – the key is to be strict, set boundaries, rules, and make your workspace epic.
Remember also that working from home isn’t easy. If you don’t love what you do, it probably won’t work. If you’re someone who needs a lot of ‘real life’ interaction with people, it may not work.
The advantages massively outweigh the downsides though and I don’t think I could ever go back to office jobs. Oh, and it’s great if you have animals: