Author: Mike Scaletti
Working remote comes with a lot of benefits. Being able to spend more time with family, avoiding a commute, being in a comfortable environment, and many more. It also, however, comes with its own set of challenges. Even though things are slowly going back to normal, and many of have or will soon return to the office, 2020 has made an indelible change to office culture, and the increased proportion of remote work is a big part of that.
Technology has allowed us to deal with some of the more challenging aspects of being outside of the office, allowing us to stay in close communication with both our team and our clients. Here in the Job Shop, where more than half the team still works remotely at least some of the time, we try to keep on the same track with regular Zoom meetings. We actually had several team members working remote before the pandemic, so in many ways, the changes that 2020-21 brought have actually helped us be more connected than ever. We may be attending more meetings these days, but our coordination and coherency have directly benefited from that. Although we have managed to maintain a fantastic working relationship during this period at The Job Shop, we know that it hasn't been easy for a lot of teams.
Here are some challenges many people face when working remotely:
Children, pets, and family distracting you from work
Slow or limited internet and technology access
Reduced motivation and decreased engagement
There are also some common upsides with remote work, many of which are the inverse of the challenges you face.
More quality time with family
Saving money and eating healthier by reducing eating out
Elimination of commute allowing more time for hobbys/family/personal productivity
Many people are actually meeting clients they'd only connected to over the phone in the past face-to-face for the first time using video call software
Here are my top 5 tips for staying focused, productive, and connected while working from home.
Have a Dedicated Office Space
Many of us have roommates, partners, spouses, pets, or children that can make it tough to carve out a personal workspace free from distractions at home. It may be tempting to just lock yourself in your bedroom and work from there, but if you can avoid doing so I suggest that you do; to maintain your mental health it is vital that you have a space within your home that is separate from work and intended only for rest and relaxation. At the same time, it is also important for you to maintain a workspace dedicated to work, free from distractions and annoyances. Once you set up that space, the key is training your brain to recognize that this space is ONLY for work, as well as letting your family and other cohabitators know that that is the case.
Take Regular Breaks
No matter how busy you get over the course of your workday, it is important to make sure you are taking regular breaks. Studies have found that breaks can reduce or prevent stress, help to maintain performance throughout the day, and reduce the need for a long recovery at the end of the day. Taking regular breaks can also help employees gain focus and energy after stepping away from their desks. A lunch break can help prevent an unproductive, mid-afternoon slump.
Have a Daily To-Do List
As our owner Liz pointed out in her article recently, having an Action List that you actively maintain and review on a regular basis is a great way to make sure you are not dropping the ball and are instead being a productive member of your team. Maintaining a physical notebook or online task list that is re-prioritized each day is one method that can be helpful in maintaining productivity. In addition to the organizational benefits, it is psychologically rewarding to tick items off your to-do list.
Make Sure You Have Regular Team Check-Ins
At The Job Shop we meet every other Monday as an entire company to touch base and ensure everyone is on track and getting the support they need to maintain their highest level of work. My team, the Social Media and Marketing Team, also meets regularly to go over any approaching changes or challenges we may be facing. This has been vital to allowing us to stay connected with one another, coordinate our purposes, and hold each other accountable. It's also a great way to stave off the loneliness that can sometimes go hand in hand with consistent remote work!
Make Sure to Log-Off Everyday
While it's easy to "clock out" every day, it can be somewhat harder to actually disconnect from work when you do so remotely. Your home becomes your office, and so you are in your office at all times. Because of this, working long after when you're off the clock can be a temptation all too easy to fall into.
Because of this, remote work can make you feel trapped like you can't escape work either physically or mentally. This, in turn, can lead to a decrease in the quality of your mental state and ultimately in your overall productivity, and no one will be happy with that! So make sure you set clear boundaries for yourself, your coworkers, and your bosses.
That's it, and good luck staying productive out there! Stay tuned for more articles from The Job Shop Team.