7 Tips on Working Remotely

As a seasoned remote worker of more than a decade, I’d like to share some tips and tricks that I use to help maintain normality in my life while working remotely.

1. Remember you Work to Eat

Some people are not cut out to work from home, it takes lots of discipline.  The first year that I was working remotely was challenging, the moto that kept me focused was ‘You have to work if you want to eat.’  Most contractors or freelancers work on an hourly basis, if you don’t put in the hours, you are not going to make the money you need to maintain your life.

2. Maintain Regular Office Hours

I find it extremely helpful to give myself regular office hours.  My first rule is that I must be at my desk by 9 am.  It is easy for my mornings to run away with me, I know this about myself,  so this rule helps me stay on track.  I typically work until 5 pm at least, sometimes later.

On the flip side, I have a colleague that is extremely good at clocking off at 5 pm.  For some people clocking out can be an issue too, they just work work work.  It can be just as challenging to stop working as it can be to sit down and focus.  If you maintain regular offices you can help yourself create a work/life balance.

3. Create a Dedicated Space

Ideally, I would recommend that you have a dedicated office in your house. When you are in that room you are at work.  It also gives you the added benefit of a door, which can be shut to close out the family life happening in the rest of the house.  Some people don’t have the luxury of having this much extra space. If not, I would still recommend carving out a dedicated corner of the house where you can put a desk.

Where ever your desk is, I highly recommend that you take a critical look at your workspace to make it ergonomically correct.  Make sure you have a good office chair, and your desk is the proper height.  Your elbows and knees should be at 45 degrees angles when you are sitting at your work station.  Often monitors are set too low, you may need to add a laptop stand or monitor riser to bring the screens up to eye level.  Over the years your body will thank you.

Lastly, don’t set yourself up with a windowless room in the basement.  You spend 40 + hours a week working.  I’d highly recommend giving yourself light fill predominate space in the house.  Make your office a place you love to spend time.

4. Get Out of your Pajamas

I get it, the idea of working in your pajamas sounds great at first, but it quickly loses its charm.  There is an important mental shift that happens when you get dressed and ready for the day.  You are washing the sleep off and preparing yourself for the day.  You don’t need to put on a suit, a pair of jeans and a t-shirt will work just fine, but you must get out of your pajamas.

There is also a mental shift that happens at the end of the day when you change into your comfy clothes to relax.  If you are always in your comfy clothes they lose meaning and trust me nobody wants that.

5. Take it to the Next Level and Wear Shoes

In addition to getting dressed I also recommend putting on shoes.  There is nothing like kicking off your shoes at the end of a long day.  If you are wearing your slippers all day you miss out of that rewarding moment.  There is an added benefit of also giving yourself another mental cue.  It is 9 am, I am dressed, I have my shoes on,  I am now ready to go to work, I will open the door, and walk into my office to begin my day.

6. Embrace Video Conferencing

I’ve found that some people do not like video conferencing, but for me, it is a daily occurrence and I like it.   It not only gives me a reason to get out of my pajamas, but it also helps me connect with my remote team members and clients alike.  There is a lot of body language that happens in a conversation when you bring it into a video call you get to know and understand the other person better.

Remote workers can struggle with isolation.  Video Conferencing provides the feeling of being connected to others while working remotely.

7. Setup an Instant Messaging (IM) System

If your business doesn’t already have one.  I would highly recommend setting one up,  it is the next best thing to sitting beside to your colleagues.  In fact, it might be better.  My favorite IM software is Slack.  Not only can you have one-on-one and group IMs, but you can also have video calls, do screen sharing, and set up channels and integrations.  I setup channels for each project, so the team members working on the project can have dedicated to space to see notifications and have dialog around a specific project.

By: Debra Lanning