Taking the “Office” Out of Your Office Job: Tips for Successful Remote Working

Remote Working at a Coffee Shop.jpg

Great news, your boss gave you the green light to work from home a couple days a week, or better yet, you started your own business and have the privilege of working from wherever you want. The idea of working remotely is really exciting but the reality of it can be a little overwhelming. Here are some tips to help develop the self-discipline and routine to make you thrive at remote working.

Keep a Workspace Toolbox.  What’s in mine? A Sketchbook, noise-cancelling headphones, my to-do list, a highlighter and, maybe the most important thing of all: snacks.

Keep a Workspace Toolbox. What’s in mine? A Sketchbook, noise-cancelling headphones, my to-do list, a highlighter and, maybe the most important thing of all: snacks.

  • Get Good at Saying “No” to Distractions: There will almost always be that friend or family member that tries to pull you away from your workday – whether it’s pressuring you to join them in a midday workout session or temping you to take off early for happy hour – set your parameters and stick to them. Not only will saying “no” help you keep on track with your work day, but it will help them to understand the importance of your work and take your lifestyle more seriously.

  • Let the Timer be Your Friend: Without regular meetings or break room water coolers to break up the day, it’s easy for time to get away from you – especially if you are managing multiple projects at once. Setting timers to remind you to take breaks or switch tasks is a really nice tool to help you stay on track. 

    • Be Focused is a desktop app that allows you to set timers for certain tasks and reminds you to take a five minute break every 25 minutes.

    • Simply type in Timer to a Google search

  • Keep a Workspace Toolbox: No matter where you plan to work, the key to creating a productive workspace is making it yours. Whether you’re at home or a coffee shop; it’s the little things that can help you be productive when working away from your normal desk. I have a special work bag where I keep everything I need for work so I can just drop in my laptop before I go and know I can set up shop and be productive anywhere. Here’s a quick snapshot of my Workspace Toolbox:

    • Mouse, Mousepad & Portable Laptop Stand

    • Highlighters, Favorite Pen & Mechanical Pencil

    • Sketchpad, To-Do List, Sticky Notes & Scrap Paper

    • Snacks: Gum, Mints, Granola Bars, Bottle of Water, Lunch (if I’m going to be away from home all day)

    • Extra Phone Charger & Headphones

  • Follow the 24 Hour E-mail Reply Rule: Whether you’re self-employed or working remotely for a company, reliability and consistency are so important. Even if it means just sending a quick reply to let someone know that you got their email, always respond to an email within the first 24 hours NO MATTER WHAT. Don’t give your boss or clients a reason to think that you can’t manage your time as a remote worker. If you know you’re going to be traveling or out of service for more than 24 hours, alert your contacts ahead of time and use an out-of-office notification.

  • Connect with Other Remote Workers: If you spend all or a lot of your time working remotely, you’ll start to notice that it can become quite lonely and isolating. Find a network of other remote workers or self-employed people who are interested in meeting up to work together in a shared space like a library or co-working space. Everyone can work on their own projects while enjoying the company of others. Check out Meetup.com or local Facebook groups to find other remote workers.

  • Have a List of Good Work Spaces: Imagine you have a deadline and need a solid work day, you show up at Starbucks and it’s loud, busy and there’s nowhere to sit. Now what? Having a good quiver of productive workspaces nearby is key. Do some research for:

    • Local libraries

    • Coffee Shops

    • Coworking Spaces

    • Visitor Centers with WiFi (if you’re traveling in a tourist area)

Here are some things to consider when finding spots to work:

    • Are there enough power outlets in the seating area?

    • Is the internet fast and reliable?

    • If it’s a coffee shop, do they have rush periods during breakfast or lunch that can distract you from your work or keep you from finding a spot?

    • Can you stay for a long period of time? Some coffee shops have limits.

    • What does it cost? Keep in mind that working at a coffee shop and spending money on lattes and snacks can add up!

    • If you need to take phone calls, is there a quiet space to do so?

    • Are the tables and chairs comfortable? 

I’d love to hear your tips, stories or questions about remote working and embracing this exciting lifestyle.