Tips for Working Remotely: Your Guide to an Effective Workday
Remote work has been around since the early 2000s, and it took a while for companies to feel more comfortable with their employees working from home. Today, it has become a part of most companies’ setups. According to McKinsey and Company, 58% of Americans reported having the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week. From that same group of people, 35% said they have the option to work from home five days a week.
People may assume working from the place you live is easy and can be a swift adjustment to working in an office or specified location. However, there are unanticipated challenges, whether you’re new to remote work or have been doing it for years. With that being said, don’t lose heart — there are ways to make this transition smooth or new habits you can put into practice to make your days more effective.
Continue reading to learn about how remote working has risen in popularity, the positive and negative sides of this style of job, how to be an effective worker from your house and habits you should avoid in your day-to-day routine.
The rise of remote jobs
Remote work has not always been as popular and practiced as it is now. In the 1990s, the internet no longer specifically belonged to the government for research purposes, but it was now able to be used by the general public. Thus, the internet era began. Although personal computers had been around since the late 1970s, fully working from home would not become a concept until around the early 2000s. Around this time, the need for remote work guidelines for employers and employees was recognized and put into legislation.
According to the United States Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriation Act was put into effect. This law required each Executive agency to establish a policy allowing eligible employees to participate in telecommuting — remote work — to the maximum extent possible, as long as the employee’s performance was not diminished.
Throughout the last 10 to 15 years, the work-from-home style of job became more popular. According to GetApp, a software reviewer company, the number of people working from home increased by about 400% since the beginning of 2010s. This is due to a few factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
How the COVID-19 pandemic increased remote work
During the years 2020 and 2021, the Coronavirus disease swept the world, causing most companies to shut down offices and introduce remote work as the main form of production. This unplanned shift took many companies out of commission until things were more organized and streamlined for employers and employees alike. The United States Census Bureau found, between 2019 and 2021, the number of people primarily working from home tripled from 5.7% (about 9 million people) to 17.9% (about 27 million people).
The global pandemic forced many employers to make remote work a functional and applicable practice for daily job roles and responsibilities. In a way, this emergency shift in the style of work was a test for many businesses to learn how adaptable and flexible their processes truly were. Although it might have been tough to meet on a video call, computer screen and office-wide communication tool rather than in conference rooms in person, it demonstrated working from home was actually possible for many styles of employment.
Common remote careers
Although many people returned to the office after COVID-19 slowed its infection rates, there are still many jobs that have embraced the work-from-home lifestyle. Here are some of the most popular remote jobs according to Indeed:
- Freelance translator
- Graphic designer
- Freelance writer
- Digital marketer
- Operations manager
- Technical support engineer
- Sales consultant
- Medical writer
- Project manager
- Registered nurse
- Application developer
- Software engineer
These jobs only scratch the surface of remote work opportunities, as having flexible work arrangements is extremely important. According to the Pew Research Center, 61% of workers say they now choose to stay home rather than work in their office even though it’s an open and available space.
Pros and cons of working remotely
Based on the style of work people prefer, remote work can either be an amazing or unappealing option. Before people decide on a career path, they should take into consideration all aspects of this type of job. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of working from home:
Being a remote worker gives you access to a variety of unique benefits. Some may be more important to people than others, but they all contribute to working from home being a popular choice for employees.
Virtually work from anywhere
One of the most important and prevalent benefits of a remote job is the ability to work from any location. Yes, that means you can get work done from the comfort of your home, but also from a coffee shop, a friend’s house or even while traveling. As long as you have a functional computer and a strong Wi-Fi connection, you will be able to get work done.
Create your own work schedule
Although employers may still have set hours that they need you to be available, you will still be able to have a more flexible schedule and production procedures than if you were in an office. If you’re a morning person, you can get up early and start work right away, or you can stay awake and work into the night if that’s when you feel the most productive.
Save time and money
If you currently commute or have done so in the past, you’re probably aware of how expensive and time-consuming driving to your workplace can be. By avoiding the need to commute, you can save on gas and have more time in the morning to relax and eat breakfast or get started with work earlier than before.
When working from home, you have to focus less on many aspects of office life that can be distracting or unproductive. You will most likely still attend meetings virtually, but small talk and in-person chatter can lead to several minutes of your day being spent on non-work-related tasks. With remote work, you may find yourself less distracted and able to focus on your specific tasks with fewer interruptions.
Put your well-being first
Sadly, work can bring stress into your daily routine. With that being said, working remotely may help you reduce stress by not having to worry about being late to work or meetings. You can also take breaks throughout the day to take a walk or cook lunch, great activities that may help you feel better throughout the day.
Yes, working from home offers flexibility, increased productivity and puts your health first, but there are negative sides to this style of work as well. Take a closer look at some negative aspects of working from home:
Distractions at home
Although remote workers no longer have distractions from the office, there are things at home that can make people lose focus. If you’re a parent, then children at home, passing traffic noise, barking from dogs next door and things that need to be done around the house can all cause interruptions and make you feel pulled in different directions.
Less social interaction
As the name indicates, remote work can be very isolating — especially for those that live alone. Being in the office invites conversation, builds relationships with coworkers and creates a company culture, but working from home doesn’t necessarily set you up to be able to have those same exchanges.
Difficult work-life balance
If your company has not set you up for a successful schedule and allowed you to have your evenings off, then it may be hard to feel like you’re done working for the day. Since you’re working from home, there isn’t an office you can leave behind every single day, which may lead to poor work-life balance.
Concerns with technology
Technology is wonderful when it works properly and helps you complete tasks more efficiently. But, it can still have issues, impair your productivity and even pose a threat to your safety. In an office, you most likely use a secure network to connect to and have passwords protecting all of your personal and work-related information. At home, your and your company’s data may not be as safe.
Unstable internet access
Going along with technology concerns, inconsistent internet access can also be a huge red flag for remote workers. As previously mentioned, your work building most likely functions under an extremely secure, high-speed internet connection that potentially works better than your Wi-Fi at home. You’re also in charge of covering your internet bill at home, and working remotely may cause that to be more expensive.
If you’re considering getting a job where you would work from home or are already working remotely, it’s important to pay attention to potential concerns and create good habits or procedures to help combat those issues.
Tips for working remotely
Remote workers most likely have employers they answer to, but they’re still very much in charge of their working day. With that power comes great responsibility and a need to have positive routines in place for effective day-to-day work. If you need efficient habits, implement these tips into your remote work:
Maintain regular work hours
Just like working from a specific location, it’s helpful to set working hours for yourself and consistently follow that timetable. If your employer tells you to be available until 5 p.m. every night, then make sure you do what is asked of you and then call it a day.
It would be difficult to have a healthy work-life balance if you’re constantly checking your email in the evening or trying to start work right when you wake up before you’re fully ready for the day. You’ll feel more energized and productive if you spend intentional time with your friends and family, go outside, exercise and get a good night’s sleep.
Set rules for those using your space
If you’re a parent with kids at home or have a spouse that also works remotely, it can help to have designated times for everyone to work separately and focus on individual tasks. This can help decrease the risk of distraction during team and video meetings. Always ensure every person in your household has the tools, time, resources and volume level to accomplish everything necessary.
Designate a space to work
You may or may not have a specific home office, but creating and maintaining a work spot in your house can help you get in the right headspace every morning when you start work. Remote workers might also feel like they never leave work if they go from working on the couch to watching TV in the same location. Have a set space where you can train your mind to focus on work, and it may ultimately help you get more done throughout the day.
Dress for success
Every person has different preferences when it comes to clothing choices, but what is the best thing to wear for remote work? A good rule of thumb is to first adhere to the company-specific dress code, then take those guidelines and put on outfits that make you feel comfortable and productive. Although no one is going to see your full outfit, it’s best to get out of your pajamas and into clothes that can boost your mood and separate your home life from your work life.
Take regular breaks
Just because you work from home does not mean you need to work all day, every day. Similarly to working in an office, it’s vital you take time away from your computer screen. Go for a walk, take a 10-minute pause to read, paint, cook — essentially, any tasks that gives you time to breathe and relax separately from your job responsibilities. According to Indeed, taking short regular breaks during the workday can help with energy, motivation, problem-solving, focus, mind and body health, productivity, alertness, creativity and memory. With many benefits resulting from time logged off of the computer, it’s definitely a habit to put into practice during your week.
If you have the opportunity to work from home or if this is your current job set-up, these tips can help you be a more productive team member for your company, and a healthier and happier person overall. To ensure you create a positive and efficient work environment in your home, pay attention to potential bad practices you should avoid.
Habits to stay away from when working remotely
Taking positive action steps for a better remote work style is definitely beneficial, but you should also take notice of any bad habits that can derail your productivity and well-being throughout your workday. Here are some negative routines or patterns to evade:
- Staying in bed while working: Not removing yourself from where you sleep at night may only make you feel sleepy, inefficient and unable to accomplish your tasks. It also looks unprofessional to take meetings or calls while sitting in your bed.
- Working in your pajamas: As mentioned above, not getting dressed for the day can keep you from being energetic or feeling prepared for the tasks at hand. Even if you opt for comfortable clothes, it’s always better to change out of the apparel you slept in.
- Refusing to get up and move around: Desk jobs can be tricky when it comes to exercise. Even though you’re sitting most of the workday, it’s important to get up and walk around every so often to increase blood flow and move your body.
- Multitasking: When you work in an office, you’re unable to do too many tasks at once. It should be the same when working from home. It’s okay to complete small tasks during your breaks, but trying to wash the dishes, clean the laundry and pack your children’s lunches for the next day while completing your work isn’t going to result in very effective and efficient work.
Modern training can help
Remote work has grown in popularity, but it can still be difficult to ensure you and your business are having efficient workdays. That’s why online, video-based training is a great solution for businesses with remote team members and employees scattered all over the world. Like working from home, this version of learning utilizes advanced technology and methods to make sure every remote employee knows how to most effectively complete their tasks.
Find resources and recorded classes to better prepare for any style of career, and increase employee engagement with MasteryTCN.
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