With the coronavirus having reached pandemic level, more employees are setting their eyes on working on a remote team. While work from home is an idea that has been on the table for some, many are still new to it. And because of that, they are struggling to handle or figure it out.
In this piece, we’ll provide a glimpse of the experiences of other remote workers to those who are curious. Secondly, we’ll offer techniques and a selection of remote work solutions that can help you become a bona fide work-from-home employee. So once you are done reading this, you’ll be better equipped for adjusting to a new work setup.
Remote work has been picking up pace in the past few years. There are currently 5 million full- or part-time remote workers, accounting for 3.6% of the American workforce. This number has increased by 173% since 2005.
And this number is likely to go up in the coming years, as 80% of employees say they want to work remotely if only partly.
On top of this, the latest remote work trends also show that the 8-hour workday will diminish. This will pave the way for more flexible work as well as additional freelancers.
But while working from home is an idea that thrills many, not everyone is equipped for it fully. At least, not yet. Therefore, we prepared this article to give new remote workers an idea of what it is like. Plus, we offer tips on how to get started on remote work and settle in.
If you are new to working remote, you may have plenty of questions regarding what to you is a novel working setup. You may have certain expectations, too. To give you an idea of what it is like to work remotely, here are experiences of telecommuters.
For some remote workers, their teammates are no longer just that. They also become good acquaintances, while others become fast friends. Since your communication is digital, it is easy to leap between the boundaries of work and personal.
And if you have physical team gatherings, you can expect to have tighter bonds with them. That can help you approach each other better at work, too.
While it is true that remote work offers flexibility for you to do things at your own time, you are also bound by work hours and deadlines. You can realize this as you go through your remote job. Unfortunately, your family and friends may not. For example, there are remote employees who have to field people dragging them out of their spaces to do non-work stuff. This can be frustrating–and that is why you need a routine and set boundaries with these people.
For most people, not being in the same room with so many people for several hours a day is a boon. But for those who like social interaction, you may find that it becomes diminished. So you should meet your deadlines or, better yet, complete tasks earlier. Thus, you can have time to interact with other people physically.
One of the main reasons why people decide to work from home is to cut costs. But if you are often in a coffee shop or a coworking space, that may defeat the purpose. Plus, you cannot just leave your things on the table in a cafe every time you need to go to the restroom. Also, you have to compete with other customers for the use of it.
When you have a task, the best thing to do is work on it immediately so you can then focus on other things. But more often than not, procrastination strikes. It is the enemy of efficiency and productivity, and it takes a lot of willpower and discipline to defeat it.
A perk of remote work is you can work anywhere. But the downside is, anywhere you are, you also work. There is no clear distinction between vacation and leisure time anymore if you decide to be a remote work jet-setter.
If this is your first time working on a remote team, you may feel a little disconcerted. That’s okay, but don’t worry. We got your back. Below, we list down ideas that can help you manage your remote work. Plus, these can have extended benefits such as improved productivity and efficiency.
Primary among the things you need to do when you are new to remote work is making a space for actual work. Sure, you can sit with your laptop on the bed or the couch. But let’s face it, you are going to end up lying down and procrastinating rather than working.
That is why you need to condition yourself to work when you are on your workspace. If you do not have enough space, even another desk for work can help. You can also use this guide on how to set up a home office.
It is easy to switch between your computer and mobile device when no one is watching. Unfortunately, it does not bode well for your efficiency and productivity. What you need to do to perform well even when you are working from home is to remove distractions.
If you need your phone for work, then turn off the notifications for non-work related apps during work hours. The same goes for your laptop or computer applications, too. Because as much as we don’t want to admit it, we like to check our social media accounts frequently. Indeed, the average user spends 2 hours and 22 minutes on SNS. And after getting off it, it takes them a while to focus on the task on hand.
Since you will be working with your own laptop or computer, you need to make sure that it is up for the task. Even if you spend most of the time clack-clacking away on your keyboard, you still need a laptop that is great for remote work. Some remote workers would say that the minimum requirements are:
But why do you need this kind of specs at all? That is because even running Chrome can take a lot of a computer’s resources. If you have more than ten tabs open while researching, your laptop will run slow already if you do not have a hard-working RAM and processor.
Of course, if you like to work at cafes, the beach, or other outdoor settings, you also want a laptop that has a long battery life.
On top of it all, you need to make sure that it has functionalities for meetings like a good webcam and a built-in microphone. You need to check the weight, too, if you expect to lug it around all the time.
It is not just children that benefit from a solid routine; adults do, too. Some of the most successful people in history had daily routines that they never diverted from. That is because you can accomplish more when you have a solid schedule. Plus, you can keep procrastination to the curb with routine. It also gives you control over your day rather than letting life just happen to you.
There are health benefits to a routine, too. According to Northwestern Medicine, routine leads to a healthier lifestyle:
Of course, a powerful laptop is just one component of remote working essentials. You also need to invest in software that will keep you productive, especially if you’re juggling multiple projects at any given time.
Project management platforms, in particular, can help you keep your projects and tasks organized. This way, nothing falls through the cracks and you can maintain efficiency wherever you are.
One such software you can try is monday.com. It’s a platform designed for project management and collaboration, with features that make it easier for users to monitor tasks and overall project progress. The software’s main strength lies in its customizability, as it lets users tweak almost every feature according to their needs. You’ll also be able to quickly see the information you need to keep projects on the right track, such as employee schedules, task owners, task status.
You need to engage with colleagues to collaborate with them. This becomes even more apparent as you learn how to work remotely from home. But that does not mean your discussions have to center around work all the time. You can also exchange ideas about how you can have more productive days. Or you can talk about your workspace set up. If that is not your cup of tea, you can talk about your interests and other topics. In any case, chatting with teammates often can help establish camaraderie and aid in having smooth working relationships.
In any case, you need a proper platform for connecting. Here are some instant messaging software you can deploy for your team.
Your employer is likely to track your performance using employee monitoring software. They will also probably adjust your compensation or tenure in the company based on that. You do not have to wait for your employer or an HR staff to tell you how you have been doing for you to step up your performance, though. That is because you can do it yourself.
You do not have to do the task manually, either. There are time tracking software that can help. Some features of employee monitoring software can be beneficial as well. Here are a few examples:
There are times when the electricity fails you or when the internet is uncooperative and interrupt your work. These are challenges that cannot be avoided. However, you can put fail-safe measures in place to overcome them.
The above tips are only the starting point. There are many things you have to consider as you continue your work from home. To give you an idea of what they are, we list a few of them here:
If you cannot apply remote work strategies immediately, don’t beat yourself up. It is a huge adjustment to make, especially if you have been in an office for so long. Settling into a new routine takes time, too. Some things are also a continuous process that you have to work on. And if you find yourself in need of additional guidance, you can check this article about learning to work remotely.
Meanwhile, business owners and managers can read on how to manage a remote team. After all, managing a dispersed team is different from overseeing team members who are present physically.
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