Working remotely can be a great gig. Being able to get paid to your job in your recliner and pajamas is amazing. You get to create your own schedule and work when you are able while also being able to do other things at home. Working remotely can come with complications as well, though. Although working remotely gives you a ton of freedom, it can also be lonely. No co-workers to chat at the coffee carafe with no holiday parties, no one to bounce your ideas off of.
So how can you be productive while working remotely? Enclosed below is a list of steps you should take to be productive while working remotely:
- Leverage Video Whenever Possible to Stay Connected to Co-Workers
- Setup a Dedicated Workspace
- Create and Stick to a Work Schedule
- Have a Work Shutdown Routine
- Minimize Technology and Social Media Distractions
- Communicate your Work Requirements to Family and Friends
What is Working Remotely?
Remote work refers to a job being done outside of the office or business place. It is often referenced as working from home. Some people work completely remotely, while others do it a few times a week.
This gives remote workers the ability to work on projects from home without a commute and the confines of an office. They can do work at home, at a Starbucks, at a Jonas Brothers concert, or on Space Mountain at Disneyland- the possibilities are endless.
This may sound like the dream, but there are both pros and cons to this. Being productive is key to working from home.
The Pros of Working Remotely
When the Great Recession hit in 2008, many US companies downsized their offices and began allowing their employees to work from home (Source). This method has stuck for reasons other than office space.
Working from home means that you will be able to spend more time with your family. If you are a parent, you will be able to pick up your kids from school. You can have a friend over for a cup of coffee at 10 am, without the hassle of being at a workplace. Being able to have a more open, flexible schedule is something that anyone would enjoy. A better work/life balance can take a lot of stress off of our shoulders.
When you think about it, working from home can have a ton of health benefits. The first thing many of us do when on our commute to the office stops at a coffee shop and down a calorie-filled latte. At home, we can simply make our own coffee, which will probably have fewer calories. Being home also allows for more workout time. Taking a mile walk around your neighborhood can make more of a difference than you realize. You likely don’t have an elliptical at work, but you may have one at home. Being at home simply gives you more time and more opportunities to exercise. At work, a co-worker is likely to offer to pick up some Taco Bell for lunch. Who is going to say no to a Crunchwrap Supreme? At home, you are more likely to make a sandwich or a healthy salad. This will save you money in the long run and will make you healthier overall.
This is the best one, in my opinion. No commute! No one likes sitting in traffic. Working remotely means your commute is from your bedroom to your desk. Commutes account for lost hours of your day where you aren’t productive. They are quite literally a waste of our time. Without a commute, you have more time for exercise, family time, and relaxation. Your gas bills will also go down significantly!
You can get a job in a big city but live wherever you want. Your job may be based in New York City, but you can choose to live in a quiet Rhode Island suburb when you work from home. This allows you to have the job of your dreams, but to also live in a neighborhood that you enjoy without a commute.
The Cons of Working Remotely
I know you may be thinking: how could there be cons to working from home? There are challenges and issues that can arise from remote work, though.
You will have no face to face interaction with co-workers or your boss. Now, this may seem like a positive thing to some people, which can be true. Yet, this can make communication difficult. In a traditional office, you can walk to George’s cubicle and ask him a question in real-time. Working remote means you will need to text, email, or video chat with George in order to ask him the same question. If George is a slacker, he may not answer you, and then you don’t have an answer to that question. Also, in emails, you never know how to take someone’s message because there is no tone. Is your boss unhappy with your work, or is he simply just offering a suggestion? Face to face communication is much easier to decipher.
Just because you are working from home does not mean you don’t have to do any work… that’s the thing about remote work; it’s still work. You’re not going to have a set time to get work done like you would at a 9 to 5. You have to have enough self-discipline to force yourself to get your work done on time. There is no pressure from your environment, so you have to be the one to put the pressure on.
Don’t get distracted. I know you may be tempted to watch the newest episode of Vanderpump Rules instead of start that report, but once you are off track, you’re likely to stay there. At home, there are obviously so many distractions, but you have to force yourself to avoid them. Tell yourself to get all your work done and then use those distractions as a reward for when you are all finished.
How to be Productive While Working Remotely
Try Doing Fewer Emails and More Video Chats
I know this can be daunting, but it will make your life easier for sure. Again, face to face human connections trumps a text or email. This makes it easier to ask questions and get an immediate answer.
As a network engineer working for a tech company, I use video conferencing extensively throughout my day both with my co-workers and customers. It really helps you to connect on a more personal level and to offset the feeling of working alone in a silo.
Set up a Workspace
Don’t do your work in bed, as tempting as that may sound. Again, keeping your work and your home lives separate is a key part of working at home. This helps you to keep organized while also allowing you to separate your work from your family.
Make and Stick to a Work Schedule
Wake up, have a cup of coffee, get your work done, then relax. Use a planner or an app to make sure you check off everything on your work to-do list.
Have a Work Shutdown Routine
After you finish your work, close your laptop, clean up your space, and then change your clothes and leave the workspace. Changing your clothes and leaving your workspace indicates the conclusion of your workday. This will allow you to move on from work and begin your family/home time without leaving the house.
Minimize Technology Distractions
If you don’t need to check Twitter for your job, don’t check it. Wait to mess around on your phone until all of your work is completed for the day. See catching up on social media as a reward for getting all of your tasks done.
Communicate Your Work Requirements to Family and Friends
Make sure that your family understands that technically you are work. Your kids may come into your workspace and ask for a snack. This causes you to get up and help them and lose track of what you were doing. Make sure they understand that you are currently at work and cannot be interrupted unless it is an emergency. Prepare them with everything they need to keep occupied while you work, so you will experience minimal distraction.
If it is too hard for you to get work done at home, go to a coffee shop, restaurant, or library. This allows you to actually go somewhere else, which may trigger you to get work done. A wi-fi enabled spot can mimic an office space and allow you to get your work done in a timely manner. If you are going to use wifi somewhere other than your home network, you should really use a VPN. VPNs (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your connection to the internet so that hackers can’t steal your data. My recommended VPN is NordVPN. NordVPN is the top pick of PCMag and features military-grade encryption, clients on every platform and excellent service and support. For more information on NordVPN, click the link below:
How I Work Remotely
I actually work remotely as a network engineer. As a quiet, shy, anxious person, it works really well for me. It allows me to stay in the comfort of my own home while also doing my dream job. Yet I know from personal experience that it can also be tough at times.
On weekdays, I keep to the same schedule every day. This is critically important. Enclosed below is a table showing my schedule for a workday working from home:
|Start Time||End Time||Activity|
|5:30||6:00||Wake myself and kids up. Take shower|
|6:00||6:30||Check work email and eat breakfast then|
put kids on bus.
|6:30||8:00||Work on my Blog, check social media and|
|8:00||8:30||Recheck work email and plan workday|
|4:30||5:00||Wrap-up and list major work items for |
|5:00||6:00||Catchup with Wife and Kids take kids to|
gymnastics or drum lesson
|6:30||7:30||Work on Blog|
|8:00||8:30||Pick up kids from lessons|
|9:30||Go To Sleep|
As much as I would love to be able to stick to this schedule every single day, I’m only human. You are going to have days that you get interrupted, distracted, or decide you’d rather be doing something else. Working from home can be both challenging and rewarding, you just have to learn how to balance it. If you miss a day of work because you’re feeling too lazy, then the next day needs to be a long workday. You have to find balance, so you don’t overwhelm yourself.
I personally love working remotely. It works well with my personality and my work ethic. It can be a wonderful option for someone who can handle the constraints that come along with the method of work.
Ways to Know if Working Remotely is Right for You
Are you self-disciplined and motivated? You will need these traits in order to work from home. There won’t be anyone on your case, standing behind you asking what time those reports will be on the boss’s desk. That’s completely up to you. If you are motivated to succeed and able to push yourself to get your work done in a timely manner, you will be able to work remotely.
Working from home can be lonely. Are you a talkative person who needs human interaction on a daily basis? Then working from home might not be right for you. If you are able to keep to yourself and work on your own, then working remotely should be great for you. If you were one of those kids in school who groaned when the teacher mentioned a group project, working independently from home might be a great choice for you.
Make sure you can articulate yourself well and communicate through written messages, like emails and text messages. If you can’t explain yourself and your complications through writing, it will be hard for you to succeed in this manner of work.
Are you capable of maintaining a healthy balance between your work life and your home life? No kids? Significant other works at an office during the day? The fewer distractions you have at home, the abler you will be to balance your work/home lives.
Hate commuting? Does it take too much time and gas money? Live somewhere rural, far away from any of your dream jobs? Working remotely allows you to have work and home where you want without a dreadful commute.
Want to exercise more? Travel more? Spend more time with your pets? Want to work in sweatpants? Dislike traditional work environments? These are all reasons to start working from home. No commute and no traditional office allow for a lot more freedom and flexibility. As long as you follow the steps to be productive while working remotely, you will be able to be successful.
As intriguing as working remotely from home may sound, it is not for everyone. Some people thrive in traditional work environments, where others don’t. Also, not every job allows for remote work; it all depends on what you do for a living. If you do work remotely, there are ways to be productive through both the pros and the cons.
Working from home gives you much more freedom and flexibility in your schedule. You can work from anywhere, whenever you want. It can be easy to put your work on the back burner when working from home, but you have to be self-disciplined enough to balance your work life with your home and social lives.
Some pros of working from home include freedom, schedule flexibility, more time for family, friends, and exercise, no commute, better health, and the ability to have a job in a big city without living in one.
Some cons of working from home include distractions, no face to face interactions, no pressure from co-workers and bosses to get your work done in a timely manner, and again (even though it’s a pro too) freedom.
Before accepting a remote job, you need to assess if it is the right choice for you. Although it sounds tempting, working from home is not for everyone. It all depends on your personality and how much self-discipline you have. If you are a shy person who does not thrive in a traditional office environment, it may be a good choice for you. If you love human interaction and are an outgoing person, you may miss the traditional work environment too much if you decide to work from home.
Working from home gets rid of a daily commute, worrying about gas prices, allows you to travel, exercise, and spend more time with others. As long as you can find ways to stay productive while at home or on the go, away from the office- and communicate with your bosses and co-workers in writing, you should be able to find that working remotely is a really cool gig.
So, next time you are offered a remote position or apply to work from home, determine if you will able to handle it and if you will be able to increase your productivity compared to working in a traditional work office environment.
If you do choose to work at home, you will likely start off great. Motivation and excitement over working from home will keep you going at first, but you have to continue to motivate yourself daily in order to stay successful. Working from home is a rare perk that you should take advantage of fully. Don’t let yourself put work on the bottom of your to-do list just because there is no one to keep you accountable face to face. You need to keep yourself accountable, so you can continue to be productive while working remotely.
“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”
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