man working from home with child

Toolbox | 9 Tips for Success When Working Remotely

By Jill Johnson | July 8, 2020 | State Legislatures Magazine

After working from home the last few months it’s difficult imagining going into the workplace every day ever again. Working from home—either part time or full time—has so many benefits for many of us. But it also has its challenges. Being at home can feel more isolating, can have more distractions and can make it harder to separate work from home life. To be successful at working remotely takes more than a mindset shift. It requires a disciplined approach to planning your activities and seeking out opportunities to interact with your co-workers. Here are nine practical tips you can use to make the most of working from home.

1. Establish a Routine.

Try to mimic your normal, in-office workday routine at your remote location. Whether it’s at your home, an airport or a coffee shop, following your normal work schedule is vital to feeling like you are really working. Start your workday at the same time. Make sure you get dressed. Wearing your pajamas might be comfortable, but it does not prepare you for work. It can become easy to get distracted when you are working in a different environment, so focus on acting like you’re still working in a supervised workplace. This approach will help you feel more like you are working.

2. Set Up a Dedicated Workspace.

Having an area in your home where you do your work is essential to success in working remotely. It’s easy to become distracted by the dog, the TV or the pile of household tasks that need to be completed. When you are in your workspace, you are working. If you combine it with following your normal work times, you can do a better job of staying focused.

3. Convert Commute Time to Learning Time.

The time you used to spend commuting is time you can now use to enhance your value by learning something new. With the plethora of online courses and videos available, you can take advantage of this “extra time” to enhance your skills. Even better, you might be able to get a certificate of completion that will make you even more valuable when you get back to a normal office work routine.

4. Take a Lunch Break.

One of the most challenging aspects of working remotely is that it becomes easy to just sit at your desk and eat your lunch. In a normal work environment, you have to walk somewhere and often wait a bit to get your food. At home, your lunchtime could drop from an hour to 15 minutes. Use the extra time to get in your workout or engage in some other activity to benefit your health. Giving yourself a solid break during the day will help reinvigorate you and give you a mental boost.

5. Connect With Others.

When you’re feeling a little lonely or isolated, take a minute to reach out to someone. Rather than sending a lengthy email, see if a colleague is available to talk about a project. If she is working remotely, too, she might welcome the human contact! Intentional connections like this build team bonds and help sustain you when you are working remotely. They also offer you additional opportunities to dig deeper into issues and brainstorm alternative solutions to critical issues.

6. Use Videoconferencing.

Videoconferencing is a great way to connect people from different locations. It provides a deeper level of engagement than a phone call or text message. Remote meetings can be very effective, but you need to make sure everyone is focused on the meeting and not multitasking. You can even set up regularly scheduled videoconference calls so you can add more structure to your workday.

7. Communicate Clearly.

If you are now relying on digital communication with your colleagues through email, be sure you are communicating effectively. Sarcasm or snarky comments have no place in written communication as they can be taken out of context without the body language or facial expressions to convey your meaning. Take some time to plan out the structure for your communication. Identify your key messages and what you need to add to support them. This will help you clarify your thinking and be better understood by others when they are relying on only your written communication.

8. Leverage Your Opportunities for Productivity

You might discover that, without all the interruptions common during an office workday, teleworking makes you more efficient in completing your regular work responsibilities. But it also might give you a chance to be even more productive. Leverage this productivity to tackle that special project you were hoping to get done someday. That someday is now! Just make sure it is a one-off project, not a permanent addition to your job responsibilities.

9. Avoid the Time Trap

It is not uncommon for people to feel guilty that they are not working hard enough when working remotely. It is easy to fall into the time trap: seeking out additional job responsibilities to fill your time. Remember, you won’t have the same opportunities for productivity once you go back to a normal office environment. You and your boss should be clear about this so the extra work does not cause complications when you return to the work setting.

Final Thoughts

While it is not ideal to have a major shift in how you work, you can adapt to the situation with practice and focus. Keep in mind that learning to balance all the complex aspects of working remotely takes time. Be creative in exploring your options for staying connected with colleagues. Just make sure you keep your mindset on making a remote situation work for you—and your employer.

Jill J. Johnson is the president and founder of Johnson Consulting Services and the author of the bestselling book “Compounding Your Confidence.” For more information on Jill J. Johnson, please visit www.jcs-usa.com.

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