So, you want to work remotely but have you thought it through to ensure yourself the best chance of success? You may want to ask yourself what are the remote working best practices of many successful people who have gone before you.
Make sure you also check out “What do I Need to Work from Home” for great recommendations on everything you need to know to work remotely.
Here is a list of some things you should consider before you start working at home, or better yet, start working in other places in your community and around the world.
This one needs to go right at the top because many of us fall into the trap of working in our pajamas or t-shirt and shorts and may not even take a shower until later and for us men, neglect to shave and fix our hair.
The most successful remote workers get cleaned up and dressed before they start working. This doesn’t mean you have to dress as you would go to the office but take that shower, shave, brush your teeth, put your makeup on or anything that you need to do to be more productive.
Here’s another thing to consider. Besides being more productive, you may get a surprise visitor or even worse, you may get called into the office for a meeting or have a surprise video conference call.
We should all be ready to respond for whatever our work, clients or colleagues require to get the job done.
Let’s stick with the personal issues and talk about personal responsibility.
One of the first things you need to consider is your knowledge and expertise in what you have agreed to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s typing or analyzing a million dollar financial transactions. You need to be qualified in what you do so that it brings value to your client.
There are a lot of things to consider with personal responsibility so let me make it easier and provide some bullet points.
- Let’s start with Work Life Balance. Click HERE to read this article.
- Speak up when you’re struggling with something.
- Make sure you see the big picture with your company and clients.
- Be self-directing. Don’t wait to have everything thing laid out perfect for you. This also means to not sit around and do nothing because someone hasn’t contacted you with your next task. I have some personal experience with this one where someone in particular always says, “I wasn’t working because no one told me what to do.” There’s a mentality mind set there that may indicate that person is not cut out for working remotely.
- Find the right job for you. Ask yourself these questions:
- What do I enjoy doing and have a passion for?
- What am I good at?
- How can I bring value to my company or client?
- Find ways to be more productive and efficient with your time.
- Switch up your workplace or environment. Why not go work at the coffee shop on some mornings or at the park on a beautiful day. There are many times you can get out of the house and be more productive primarily because you are stimulating your body and mind by doing something different and exciting. Isn’t that one of the reasons you wanted to work remotely in the first place?
- Take pride in your work.
- Persevere in difficult situations. They won’t last forever.
- Schedule short walks or runs throughout the day to get your blood flowing. This will help with health issues and you will find that you think more clearly after that exercise.
- Take time for lunch and know when to stop working. You need to find balance between you family, friends, exercise, nutrition, sleep and your work life. You noticed I put work last.
- Enforce some work rules and don’t let family, friends and neighbors disrupt them, at least not on a regular basis.
- Lastly, don’t become the errand person. My family thinks I have all the time in the world to run their errands because I work at home. There are days when I want to go back to the office.
Don’t Forget Social Engagement – Don’t Become a Hermit
Many of us are so excited about our first day working at home or working remotely and then we look up from our hole in the wall several years later and realize that we have locked ourselves away in the basement.
We need to come out and smell the roses. Literally! I for one have, far too often, worked all day and night in my t-shirt and shorts and realized I hadn’t taken a shower or shave in several days. Even if I wanted to be social, I have to take the time to shower, shave, brush my teeth and put some real close on just to go hang out with friends. Don’t you all know you’re taking me away from my work?
Now what does that sound like? Right, a hermit. Don’t go down that lonely road.
- Face-to-face time is extremely important, at least periodically.
- We often forget how much fun we can have with other team members after we have isolated ourselves.
- Make sure to meet up at least once a month for dinner, drinks, and even a bigger get together once a year. Some remote teams even rent cabins in the mountains or condos at the beach where everyone can really hangout together every year. There is something to say about team building and camaraderie.
- Schedule time to be social. You plan and schedule for everything else. Why not plan for social time. Schedule a video conference call if you have long distances between you and just hangout without always talking about work or the project.
- Celebrate when you accomplish something great. Take off and head to your favorite hangout and relax a little. Take some time to celebrate your accomplishments. Your work will still be there tomorrow and your mind and body need a break once in a while.
Management – Even Remote Staff Need Management
Let’s list these items out again to make it easier to see.
- Set expectations for what will be accomplished.
- Don’t manage time, manage production or expectations.
- If you’re going to work remotely, then don’t just do it a little. Embrace it and go for it.
- Working across time zones can be a problem so you have to plan for this.
- Take time on Mondays to go over last weeks objectives.
- Have some downtime on Fridays. Don’t get together to chastise someone for not getting their work finished before the weekend but take the time to hangout and relax because you may be working the weekend.
- You must form actionable items within your team.
- Make sure you have well-thought-out ideas and not thoughts floating around here and there through emails.
Communicate More Often and More Precisely
One of the first things you should realize about working remotely is the need to communicate much more then you would in a normal office environment. You need to be more precise with your writing and more responsive when someone can’t see you nearby and then walk up and get an immediate answer.
- Do your best to not use emails for personal internal communications. Many companies will access all past emails if there is any kind of legal action.
- Use proper subject lines to make sure that the right team members are more likely to see the appropriate emails, along with including them in the distribution list.
- Remote workers need to be more up front with bring up problems or issues.
- Create time for group collaboration efforts.
- Look for people that can communicate well, and writing is of utmost importance here.
- You need to be good on the phone, in emails, letters, and in person.
- Realize how important non-verbal communication is and know you are not getting much of that when you work remotely. You may need to plan for more one-on-one get togethers or group meetings and/or video conference calls. Don’t just make your work about numbers and graphs.
- The entire team needs to be trained on communications skills and the tools by which you will be communicating.
Equipment, Software & Security
Don’t overlook your equipment, software and security. Make sure you have the best equipment. Speed is critical to production and efficiency so buy the right laptop or P.C. Click HERE to see a more detailed breakdown of the equipment you will need for your remote office.
Make sure you have good monitors, speakers, microphone, keyboard, mouse and monitors. It’s best to buy a great quality noise canceling microphone so your team doesn’t hear all the typing when you’re bored with a particular topic on that conference call or worse yet, the client hears you typing while they are talking.
Don’t get too caught up in the latest video conferencing technology. More often then not, a good telephone and a conference call will work better. This is great if you are local and can get together often but if you are thousands of miles away and oceans apart then you better work all the kinks out before you try that video conference call for the first time.
Know your tools and where they are. It’s not good to be fumbling around when the client is on video and asking you to take care of something.
Make sure you take a few extra minutes to file your work and put things away. A clean desk and office will help you work more efficiently in the long run and a messy office doesn not look good on a conference call.
Consider using a VPN when traveling, especially when out of the country. Some countries will block websites that you are used to having access to. A VPN that will make it look like you are access the internet in New York City rather then Hong Kong may be invaluable to you, plus it will also help with security.
Be aware of the need for additional things like tablets, smartphones, anti-virus, firewalls, high speed modems and wireless routers.
The last thing to consider if your company does have an office is the potential to down size the office space if most of your staff is remote. This will save on rent and energy consumption.
Lastly, Company Culture
You’re remote and maybe a lot of your team members are also remote. Consider these last few items to improve your team and culture within the company.
- Hire the best people that have discipline, knowledge, self-motivation and who are great communicators, especially written communication.
- Communication and team building are crucial.
- Did I mention communication?
- Better understanding builds trust and trust……well, you just can’t live without trust when working remotely.
Remember that you may feel like you are on an island sometimes working remotely, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
I hope I have shown you some incredible tips on how to make working remotely a great experience and that it’s still possible to build a team atmosphere even though there are thousands of miles between you.
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