Remote work is here to stay. The ability to work remotely became the #1 job perk in 2022, and 45% of respondents to a Joblist survey said they would leave their job if they were required to go back to work in person full-time. Remote work offers flexibility and freedom, and it allows recruiters to save on the time and cost of commutes. However, it’s not without challenges. How can you stay connected, productive, and healthy while working remotely? Here are ten tips:#1 - Manage expectations and limit prolonged responses from colleagues. Being as detailed as possible in emails or messages can help you and your team stay on task, especially if you work in different time zones. Here are some tips:
- Provide essential requirements or need-to-know details upfront, and be specific, relevant, and brief.
- Set clear-cut deadlines and establish when you need to hear back.
- Use a “schedule to send” feature (most email platforms have them) that sends your messages to colleagues during their work hours.
- Manage expectations and timelines by telling your team members ahead of time if you plan to be out.
- Include screenshots or images that help communicate your message more clearly.
#2 - Establish boundaries that help you maintain a work-life balance. A recent survey from HubSpot shows that remote employees often work longer hours and have less time for social interaction outside their homes. The line between work and home can become blurred and increasingly challenging to separate. To establish boundaries, keep a regular work schedule. This provides structure and can make you more productive. You should also block out time on your calendar for lunch – and make sure you eat (see #8 below).
#3 - Limit distractions and interruptions. Keeping your professional and personal life separate takes work, so we suggest designating a “focus time” for critical deadlines. Give attention to the project for two or three hours, and only check your phone or emails during breaks. You could also select people whose calls you’ll accept during work hours and silence the rest. Lastly, communicate your work schedule with your family or roommates to ensure they understand and respect your working hours. Even if you’re working at the kitchen table!
#4 - Foster open feedback with your manager and team. It can be challenging to feel connected to a company when you don’t work in the office, so establishing a way to voice your ideas and concerns will help your job performance. Speaking up also fuels discussion and creativity, which helps you thrive. Constructive feedback isn’t always easy to hear, but it’s an opportunity to show you’re listening and can help you grow.
#5 - Make your mental health a priority. Isolation can take a toll, and both collaboration and networking can help. Many organizations host monthly in-person staff and team meetings, virtual daily huddles, virtual happy hours, and even virtual book clubs. Having something to look forward to is good medicine, too, so try making a list of some exciting things on the horizon.
#6 - Mitigate burnout. Working from home can be great, but it doesn’t make you immune to stress. Prioritizing connections with coworkers, family, and friends may help prevent burnout. A positive mindset is another strategy that can be applied to limit the effects of burnout. According to Harvard Health Publishing, scientists have found that social interactions help relieve harmful levels of stress, which can adversely affect a number of important physiological processes, including our vascular and immune systems. An article in Harvard Business Review revealed that “when we think about the worst thing that could happen, our brain gets filled with negative thoughts and images that ignite our fears, worries, or anxieties. When we think about the best-case scenarios, the opposite happens.”
#7 - Take a break from screens. When we use devices with screens, our eyes stay in a fixed position for a period of time, which can lead to eye strain, fatigue, and headaches. Regular screen breaks will help minimize these risks and give your eyes and brain a chance to focus on something else.
#8 - Don’t skip lunch (the break or the food!) About 12.5% of remote workers skip lunch entirely, and around half admitted they eat lunch during meetings a few times a week; 72% also said they use their lunch break for something other than lunch (per Skynova). However, eating lunch is important for fueling physical and brain function, giving you the energy you need for the rest of the day and enabling you to focus and concentrate on the rest of the afternoon.
#9 - Make time for exercise. Physical activity stimulates your endorphins and keeps your brain sharp throughout the day. Try getting out for a walk. A change in scenery can get your creative juices flowing. You could also try a “walking meeting” away from distractions and your computer screen.
#10 - Demonstrate that you’re a disciplined and committed remote employee. Remote work takes self-discipline, which is fundamental to employer trust and confidence. It’s important to set goals for yourself, commit to those goals, and when you meet or exceed objectives, communicate your successes to your leader(s) and team.
Do you have some tips you’ve learned working remotely? We’d love to hear from you (send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org). At the onset of the pandemic, we offered ten other tips for finding success working from home. We invite you to read it now.