Working from home!? That’ll never work for me, how can I concentrate with so many distractions around me? If you feel like this you’re not alone!
The past few months have seen a huge shift in the way people are working (I’m sure we don’t need to tell you why) and the ‘new normal’ you keep hearing on the news isn’t going anywhere soon. Guest blogger Liam Donoghue, a marketing executive with the app development platform Passion.io , offers some suggestions to help you work from home more effectively.
Remote working is a relatively new phenomenon. The advent of the internet and instant messaging has seen the practice of working from home grow steadily in the past 15 years. Yet before Covid, remote working was mainly used by kooky startups and big tech companies. Most ‘traditional’ businesses still looked at it with a degree of skepticism. That’s all changed in recent months however, and now most people are making a living working from home.
It’s a strange time for a graduate to enter the jobs market and working in isolation adds another dimension to finding a career. It can feel odd working from home but also super rewarding. You have more freedom to approach the projects you like your way, and there are no overbearing managers breathing down your neck. But being your own boss can lead to a lot of procrastination and daytime TV if you let your guard down.
Nobody really prepares you for remote working. How do you stay focused? How do you communicate with your team? When is my lunch? Can I have a lie in? So, to help you out in these strange and uncertain times we’ve created this Remote Worker Survival Guide checklist to keep you focused and let you know what to expect when you’re working from the kitchen table.
Sharing our tips, tricks, and strategies for creating successful remote teams is something we love doing. Honestly, we’ve found we’re more productive when we’re at home and if we can share that productivity with others we’re all for it.
The Survival Checklist
Before you start typing away from your kitchen table it’s important to check you’re in the right head space for work. It can be easy, when working from home, to convince yourself you’re being really productive. When in reality you’re eating ice cream on the sofa, watching Netflix, and your work laptop is sitting disregarded on your lap. To avoid this scenario you need to check you’re in a work mindset.
When you’re working remotely time management and self organisation are the keys to success. Make sure you are ordering your daily tasks in a list and stay focused on the tasks you give yourself. If you often jump from task to task quickly you could find that you’ve reached the end of the day and finished nothing. Strict prioritisation will keep you focused and accountable for your own work. Also when you finish a task you get a nice endorphin rush. There’s nothing like looking at a checked-off list at the end of the day to remind you that remote working isn’t impossible.
You’ve had a stressful morning, and your lunch break has flown by. Why don’t you just give yourself an extra 30 minutes off? No one is going to know. But before you know it that 30 minutes has turned into an hour. Well that’s fine, you can just add an extra hour of work onto the end of your day. Yeah right! Getting up late, staying in your dressing gown, watching too many Tik Toks. These are all symptoms of a lack of discipline and can lead to a very unproductive remote worker.
Be honest with yourself about your working habits and set up a routine that can remove your negative impulses. If you’re not a morning person start slightly later in the day but make sure you’re fully committing to work when you do. If you find you are more productive in the evenings, schedule your deep work for them. Just be honest with yourself and make sure you’re actually working. That can be easier than it sounds!
Having empty bottles of wine strewn around your kitchen and half-eaten takeaways is bad vibes. Mess in general isn’t good for creating a productive work environment. Get rid of the clutter before starting work to ensure a zen calm whilst replying to emails.
To get yourself in a work mindset it helps to have a dedicated workspace at home to use. Free this space of non-work-related distraction and put your phone out of arms reach (We’re serious). Creating a space within your home that feels like an office or library will lead to a productive day’s work.
Once you’ve got the right mindset for a day of remote working you’ll need to master the tools that make doing your job possible. This isn’t a complete list as there are 100s of tools out there. We’ve listed the most important ones that 99% of remote companies will be using. When you’re starting a remote role make sure you familiarise yourself with the tools below to fast track your way to success.
Video Conferencing platform
Whether it’s a Zoom call or Google Hangout, mastering the use of video conferencing platforms is essential for remote workers. Not only is it nice to see your colleagues (In most cases anyway), but video conferencing let’s whole teams get on a call together.
It’s very difficult to stay focused on an audio-only call. When you can’t see your colleague you’ll often find yourself talking over other people. Your meeting can quickly become clunky and unproductive. Oh, and holding a phone to your ear for an hour is no one’s idea of fun.
What is Slack? You might have seen the adverts on TV, or heard some tech-savvy friends mention it over a beer. To put it simply Slack is like Whatsapp for work. It’s the #1 way remote companies communicate and the platform comes with a host of features that make communicating with your team easy. Make sure you’ve familiarised yourself with the platform before accepting any remote role. There’s a very high chance you’ll be using it. And yes, it has gifs.
Project Management Tools
Working on a project with team members can be challenging at the best of times. When you throw remote working into the mix it can be impossible. Trying to remember who’s accountable for what tasks, when your deadlines are due, and who reports to who are all common issues faced by remote teams. Luckily, there are loads of digital tools in the market that take the pain out of collaboration.
Asana, Trello, & Monday.com are all viable options you could use to collaborate with colleagues. Your chosen company will likely use one of the above or another product. Whatever they use, spend some time learning the platform so you can be a savvy remote worker from the get-go when you join the company.
Forget Microsoft Office, Google Drive is a cloud-based word processor that allows you to collaboratively work on documents together with your team. It also has spreadsheets, powerpoints, and a host of other functions that let you create professional documents. Google Drive stores your work on the cloud. This means there’s no chance of losing it if your computer explodes. You can access your documents anytime, anywhere. It’s free to use, so get familiar with it now to ensure success when you’re working from home.
This is a Passion.io favourite. Haxball is a browser-based fusball game. It’s a great way to socialise with your colleagues and have a break between working. We’re sure other online games are available but we love Haxball as a way to strengthen team bonds and unwind after a busy day in the (remote) office.
Remote working doesn’t mean ‘work from home’, it means work from anywhere! As society gets back to a sense of normality you’ll probably want to leave the house and work from a coffee shop or co-working space. To make this trip a pleasurable experience, and to maximise your comfort and productivity when you’re out the house, here’s a list of things we think it’s wise to pack for your afternoon excursion for a latte.
Coffee shops are noisy places. When you can hear clattering plates and indistinct chatter it can be hard to concentrate. A decent pair of noise cancelling headphones can let you get your head down and get work done no matter where you are.
Notepad & pen
Sometimes the old ways are the best. If you need to make rough notes or want to doodle between assignments then a notepad & pen is a must.
Weather is unpredictable (Especially in the UK) and nothing will kill your work ethic like getting hosed down in the rain on the way to a ‘WeWork.’
Water bottle & reusable cutlery
This one’s for the environment. If you’re working in town and want to help mother earth bring your own bottle and cutlery. If it saves you using single use plastics it is worth it.
Laptop & charger
It goes without saying really. You can’t do work without your laptop. Be sure to pack your charger though, you’ll be surprised how many people forget it
After work clothes
Imagine finishing work for the day and bumping into a friend. They’re going for a few drinks and want you to join them. You didn’t plan for this, you were only out to steal the coffee shops Wifi. Some nice trainer at the bottom of your bag and a t-shirt with no holes in it can be a great addition to your backpack.
The checklist above is a run down you can use to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success in a remote working role. Use it as a guide, refresher or checklist whether you’re taking your first steps into a remote working role or you’re a seasoned pro looking to brush up on the basics.