By some counts, a third of people are now remote workers. Once people got a taste of that sweet flexibility, many began hoping that the transition to remote-worker life would be a permanent one. For some, the newfound freedom and nonexistent commute are exhilarating. Others miss the company of coworkers and motivation from being involved in-person each day. Whichever camp you fall into, below are some strategies to help you rock the remote worker life.
Pitfalls of Remote Work
Who doesn’t love working from home? You can stay in your pajamas (barring any video calls), start the laundry before you launch into your report, and spend your lunch break going for a quick run or watching your favorite show. Yet, engaging in all these activities might not be ideal. Plot twist: remote work’s advantages overlap with the reasons it kind of sucks. If you’re in your pajamas, doing laundry, and watching TV, you’re not getting very much work done.
Your workload is unlikely to change as a remote worker (unless it goes up). That means you spend more time getting the same amount of work done, so your work bleeds into your evenings and weekends. If this happens, you can kiss your work-life balance goodbye. You’re never solely focused on work, so you’re ultimately working at all hours. Don’t do this, or you’ll burn out before you know it.
Habits That Will Make Your Remote Work Lifestyle a Breeze
Ask Stupid Questions
Many helpful little things happen in the office that you don’t think about until you’re working remotely. For example, if you zoned out during a meeting and can’t remember what was said, you can’t just lean into your least judgmental coworker’s cubicle for a quick answer. Now, it requires a phone call or documentable email. However, just venturing a guess will waste your own time and potentially create problems later on. Remember that everyone asks dumb questions sometimes, so just get up the nerve to ask. Since you can’t just pop into someone’s office, ask your key coworkers how they like to be contacted in advance.
Make a Schedule You Will Stick To
It’s harder to safeguard your non-work hours when you’re a remote worker, but it’s essential. Plan breaks throughout the day so you aren’t tempted to start the dishes before getting into your next project. Many time management apps and methods are available online, so pick the one you think fits your personality the best. The Pomodoro Technique is a popular choice where you work for twenty-five minutes and then take a five-minute break. Play with different time proportions depending on your attention span. The most important part is to work when you’re working and save all other distractions for when you are off the clock. Your discipline will make all the difference.
(For more tips on staying focused, check out How to Increase Productivity, Stop Wasting Time, and Get Things Done)
Create a Remote Workspace
Your workspace doesn’t have to be elaborate; it just needs to be relatively quiet and low on distractions. If you’re living with your partner, find spaces at opposite ends of your home so that conference calls don’t turn into a yelling match.
Don’t Forget Your Posture
Though working from your bed might sound cozy on a cold winter day, it’s not the best idea for your back. Find a sturdy, comfortable chair, and take plenty of breaks to get up and walk around.
Consider the Expenses
Unless you own your company, writing off work-from-home expenses on your taxes can be tricky. Ask your HR rep if they are willing to reimburse for some of your necessary expenses, like better Wi-Fi or a printer. And, certain states allow you to deduct unreimbursed business expenses, but check with an accountant first.
If you love working from home, you’re in luck. Experts suggest it’s here to stay for many industries. Keep these habits in mind, and you’re sure to rock the remote-worker life, long-term.