31 Jan Working Remote: 5 Steps to Make it Work for You
The age of technology, the ease with which we deploy various means of communication and the nature of our work make working remotely easier and more beneficial than ever. PR, marketing and integrated communications lends itself well to remote employment, since our clients are spread throughout the country (and in many cases, the world).
Shortly after I joined Compass Integrated Communications, I ran across a hilarious post from The Oatmeal: Why Working From Home is Both Awesome and Horrible. I have to admit, almost three years into it, the truth behind the post makes me laugh and cringe at the same time (full disclosure: as I type this, it’s almost noon and I’m still in my pajamas).
When you begin a remote position, however, it’s critical to keep a few sacred “office-centric” elements in place to maximize productivity. That’s why I put together this list of five steps to make working remote work for you:
- Know when to “turn it off.” When you work from home, it’s easy to put in 10- to 12-hour days, since the separation between work and you personal life doesn’t really exist. But to be successful, it’s critical to separate the two. One suggestion is to have a “hard stop” at the end of the day, where you shut down your computer (or close your office door) and put work out of your mind for the day.
- Keep a schedule. Before I had my daughter (and, subsequently, a natural 6:30 a.m. alarm clock), I still found that waking up and starting work at a specific time set me up for success the rest of the day. For some, getting up early and calling it quits a little earlier in the day works. For others (like me), a more traditional “8-to-5” schedule is a little easier. But knowing a start time and an end time will allow you to better “turn it off” at the end of the day.
- Leave the nest. Occasionally, a change of scenery can promote more creativity. Spend a few hours at a coffee shop, the library or check out any number of co-working spaces popping up all over the country (they’re great for networking with other remote employees, too.) It will also force you out of your comfort zone (and maybe force you to get dressed.)
- Dedicate a space. I know so many work-from-home colleagues who have the ability to work while standing up at their counter, or on the floor of their child’s nursery, or even while laying in bed. But that’s never been me! I’m most productive when I have a dedicated space in which to work. Dedicating an office – whether a whole room or a corner of one – is critical to success when working remotely. When you’re in that space, your brain says, “OK, now it’s time to work.” Bonus points if it has a door that you can shut to keep the world out and the space quiet (OR that you can shut at the end of the day!)
- Communicate your limits. When you work from home, distractions can derail you from accomplishing what you need to. Example: the friends that think you can play all day (or give rides to and from the airport) since you “work from home.” Even significant others can get in the way of you accomplishing your goals if you don’t draw clear lines. Communicate to friends and family that you have to work during the day (and feel free to send them your schedule discussed above). Set limits to interruptions, which include your kids and spouse.
In the modern communications world, working remotely is the ideal set-up, giving many of us the ability to be flexible in how and when we serve our clients. But for many of us, putting some best practices into place can make all the difference.