Remote working (or working in a distributed environment) is a relatively new shift in the mindset of the modern workplace. Although it’s been around for years, decades even, (perhaps you know it as “telecommuting”), remote working has gained a lot of national attention within the last couple of years.
It is said that by 2016 at least 43% of the workforce will be working remotely, meaning the employee doesn’t need to work from a central office, or company headquarters, but yet there are so many companies that are still asking their employees to drive an average of 25 minutes each way to and from the home office and dedicate the hours from 9am-6pm solely to the idea of being present in the office (whether or not the employees are actually working is a different story. You’ve heard of a water cooler, right?)
The pendulum began to swing in the direction of remote working when the Silicon Valley tech companies began to grow and not only start to put their employee’s well-being first, but also hire talent from all over the world. Many people started to realize that they too could accomplish their jobs just as well (if not actually better) from their couch as they could from their cubicle.
Five Q was an early adopter of the remote working model and has had almost an entire company roster of remote workers for the 10 years that it’s been in existence. In those 10 years, through much trial and error, we’ve learned some things that might be useful to if you are work remotely, or thinking about going remote.
Put on pants.
By putting enough effort into your getting ready routine to make yourself presentable enough for the grocery store, you’ll be ready for any surprise video calls or UPS deliveries. And let’s be honest, you’ll just feel better about yourself. Sure, it’s tempting to wear your pajamas all day, everyday when you have no need to leave your house, and while that may be fine for a week or two, after a few months of that, you’ll start to feel really depressed.
Use the phone or video to talk to co-workers.
Instead of just pinging your co-workers with an instant message and hoping it doesn’t get buried in a sea of notifications, use the phone or video chat to talk with your co-workers. Tone is really hard to interpret in text, and not only that, things can be misread, or auto corrected. By talking with your voice and allowing others to view your facial expressions, you’ll be able to communicate more clearly in less time.
Take intentional lunch breaks.
By taking an intentional lunch break you’ll feel more rejuvenated and energized to tackle the last half of your day. Plus (health bonus!) you’ll actually remember eating your food which will leave you feeling more satisfied and less prone to snack throughout the day.
Get some exercise.
Humans weren’t meant to sit for 8+ hours a day. In fact, prolonged sitting has been linked to serious health problems. Stiff muscles certainly won’t help your creativity, so get your blood flowing and go for a walk or work standing up for a while. You’ll actually feel more energized. Several Five Q team members use standing desks and have noticed an increase in energy and productivity during the day (just remember to take an occasional break from standing). There are also “walking treadmill desks” if you really can’t find time to exercise.
Change your scenery.
One of the dangers of working from home is that you find fewer reasons to leave the house. If you’ve been sitting in one place for too long, go work outside for a bit, or head to a local coffee house. The short break will be a recharge for your brain, and the new environment should spark some new ideas or energy.
Join a local meetup or co-working facility.
Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of working remotely is that you are alone for most of the day. Sure, you’re still part of a team, but when the rest of your team is scattered across different time zones, it can be a little lonely. There’s no better cure than finding other people who have the same interests as you do.
Spend intentional time with your friends, family, and spouse away from screens.
You spend enough time behind a screen. Put your devices down when you are with your loved ones to get your fill of people time and improve your relationships. The screen will still be there tomorrow. This is kind of like an addendum to tip number 6 because it, too, can help if you find yourself feeling a little lonely.
Have your desk face a window (or anything but a wall).
You might just have to trust us on this one and try it out. A majority of people put the furniture in their houses against the wall, but any home decor magazine will tell you that to create interest and dimension in a room, pull your furniture off the wall. Try putting your desk in the middle of the room, or maybe just turn it around so that it’s facing a window or door. It just feels better. Try it. If you don’t like it, you can always go back to facing the wall. But the bottom line is that your desk is where you spend most of your day, and majority of your week. If you’re not feeling inspired by your current office set up, try switching it up.
Change your routine every now and then.
Eventually the same routine can cause creative stagnation. We need a change in scenery in order to break free from the creative and mental barriers that pop up every now and again. Whether it’s starting the day at a coffee shop, or sitting on the front porch, doing something new every now and then will challenge your brain to think differently and recharge your creativity.
Keep a clean work environment.
A messy desk can be a huge distraction. When you’re trying to focus on a project the last thing you need is to waste mental energy thinking about how badly you need to clean. And, bonus, with a clean work space you’ll actually be able to find things!
Have an afternoon coffee or tea break.
When the clock strikes 2:30pm you might find yourself dragging a little bit. Maybe your eyelids are getting heavy or you’re having trouble focusing. Our bodies expend energy during the day and it’s typical to hit that afternoon slump where you just want to crawl into bed and take a nap. Pay attention to the times when you start to feel tired in the afternoon and notice any trends. By knowing your low point, you can plan to take a little 15 minute coffee break to step away from the desk, stretch your legs, and get a little energy spike to finish the day strong.
Watch a movie trailer or change up your music station.
It’s a good idea to change up your music during the day. If you start feeling stuck on a project, switch you music to something upbeat that can motivate you and help stimulate creativity (remember point number 9?). Another way to jump-start creativity is to watch an upcoming movie trailer. With all that sound and action packed into a short two minute trailer, how can you not feel an extra energy boost? Plus it’s a great conversation starter with your co-workers and might inspire your weekend plans. But all things in moderation, you’re still on the clock remember!
If you work from home what are some tips you can add to our list? We hope this brief list helps you to be more successful working remotely in the days and weeks ahead.