The development of new methods for communication has made it easier to maintain networking connections and keep a strong sense of corporate culture while working remotely.
Remote working can be a tremendous boon for both businesses and staff.
Telecommuting makes it possible for companies to get to the talent they could not reach earlier.
Older employees with years of experience see the quality of life improvements with telecommuting and not wasting time commuting, while younger employees have greater work-life balance and more time for family.
Plenty of workers and businesses have made remote employment work for them, but it’s not just a matter of having a notebook and working from anywhere.
You need the right tools, technology, and safeguards in place before switching to remote work, and you need a schedule to keep your productivity high.
Achieving the level of discipline necessary to succeed as a remote worker has an adjustment period.
Luckily, there are plenty of resources that can help you during that transition.
Here are some things you can do to increase your productivity as a remote worker.
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Work Deeper, Not Harder
Many business leaders are speaking now about “deep work”, or that stage where all distractions are put aside and you settle into the almost transcendental flow of the work – The Zen of Workflow.
You can’t expect deep work to last forever, but you can work towards it lasting as long as possible.
Your goal when creating an environment of productivity is to create a space where you can get into the flow of deep work at least once a day and last for at least a few hours.
But how can you do that?
Here are some helpful tips.
Maintain a Physical Work Space
Many online resources picture remote work with photos of smiling workers lounging by the pool with a laptop in one hand and a drink in the other.
It’s an urban myth and few remote workers can operate in that way.
Humans have a tendency to compartmentalize the spaces we occupy and assign them specific roles, and your mind will have a hard time staying on the task at hand if you’re working from your bed or couch precisely because it identifies those as places of leisure.
Your best bet in achieving peak productivity is to set up something equivalent to a home office.
You don’t even need an entire room for that. If you’re working with more limited square footage, a desk in your bedroom or even a table at the coffee shop down the block can be enough.
In either case, having a workspace set aside helps you delineate between work time and recreational time.
Create a Solid Schedule
That sense of spatial boundaries is also important when trying to figure out a schedule that works for you.
While blurred lines between where you live and where you work can lead to procrastination and shallower workflows, the opposite can also be detrimental.
You need to know when it’s time to close your laptop and step away from the desk.
Maintain clear boundaries between your workday and your personal life. Stepping away from your workspace during designated breaks can help with that significantly.
One advantage of working remotely is that you have the flexibility to work at your own pace, so that doesn’t mean that you need to stick to a strict 9 to 5 schedule every day.
Finding the right system that works for you is highly personal, but determining an appropriate method is crucial.
Those who prefer things a little more structured may want to set up a system for clocking in and clocking out.
You’ll have the flexibility to take a lunch break or swap your morning for an evening shift while still ensuring that you achieve your solid eight hours a day.
For others, establishing daily or weekly benchmarks for workload can be a successful move, but it’s important to make sure they’re attainable and won’t push you beyond your boundaries.
In either case, it’s important to make sure that work is over when it’s over. Just because you work from home and don’t enjoy a traditional work schedule doesn’t mean that you’re always on call.
Once your workday is over, set all of your communications to away. Don’t answer work email and turn your business phone off or put it on DND.
Eliminate, Automate, Delegate
It can be easy as a remote worker to lose track of what your ultimate objectives are and end up doing more work than you reasonably need to.
Many professionals and students have found success with a method known as Eliminate, Automate, Delegate (EAD). It can be a useful system regardless of the field you work in.
The first thing you need to do with EAD is creating a master list of the work you need to do. These should include both tasks related to your job and personal activities and habits that are related to your job.
Once this is complete, your first goal should determine what tasks can wait. There’s a decent chance that you can eliminate or merge unnecessary tasks that you’ve just been completing out of habit.
That’s not to say that you should disregard components of your workday that are related to your overall health. Regular breaks are important to your mental health.
Once you’ve winnowed down the list, you can look at tasks you can automate.
This could involve simple procedures such as scheduling emails and social media posts or involve more complex systems like IFTTT (If This Then That).
While more complex automation may seem a bit intimidating at first, it can go a long way towards improving the productivity of your workday.
Finally, you want to focus on delegating.
Are there coworkers who are better equipped for a task than you? Do you have subordinates who could use some extra work?
Carefully consider whether you’re taking on work because you’re the right person for the job or if you’re doing it out of a sense of misplaced obligation.
Recognize There’s a Learning Curve
Chances are that you aren’t going to transition from a cubicle to a model remote employee overnight, as we’ve been trained from youth to work in the structured environments of traditional offices.
Being successful as a remote worker means adapting to the unique demands remote work brings.
You can’t do things as you always would, and an increased level of self-discipline is necessary to be successful and productive.
Ashley Wilson is a digital nomad writing about business and tech. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.