In an era defined by digital connectivity and evolving work dynamics, remote work has emerged as a transformative force in the professional landscape. As more organizations embrace flexible work arrangements and individuals seek greater autonomy, mastering the remote work transition has become a crucial skill for first-time remote workers.
This guide is designed to empower you with the knowledge and tactics needed to survive in this ever-changing world, whether you’re embarking on a new remote job opportunity or navigating the unfamiliar territory of a virtual work environment.
The remote work revolution provides unprecedented freedom, allowing individuals to establish their own workspaces and schedules that suit their own interests and lifestyles. However, with this increased flexibility comes a new set of problems that can be overwhelming for individuals leaving regular office settings. Physical proximity, face-to-face contacts, and established rituals can all interrupt productivity, impede cooperation, and create a sense of isolation.
In this article, we will explore a holistic approach to mastering the remote work transition. By addressing key aspects such as establishing a routine, nurturing personal well-being, fostering meaningful connections, harnessing the right tools, and optimizing productivity, you will be equipped to navigate the remote work landscape with confidence and success.
Ready to start? Let’s delve right in!
Establish a routine
Perhaps the biggest challenge to adapting to a new work arrangement is finding your routine. Humans find comfort in the familiar, so until you become used to working from home you’ll likely feel out of place.
We all have our office routine, usually revolving around peak productive times, meetings and down time for things like lunch and coffee. Just because you’re working from home it doesn’t mean that you can’t recreate something similar.
My team has had a flexible work setup for years, so I’ve gained some experience in this regard. Here’s an example of the type of routine I encourage my team members to create for themselves when working from home:
- Morning exercise– it’s important to take into account the reduction in your own mobility while working from home. Previously you may have walked to work, climbed some stairs, left the office to get lunch, etc. Compensation for this is important for your physical and mental health.
- Get dressed for work- there’s a general principle that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. In the context of working from home, just because you can spend all day in your pajamas doesn’t mean you should. In order to set the right tone for yourself, take the time to prepare yourself for the day just as you would if you were going to the office.
- Breakfast and personal time– maintaining healthy eating habits is always important, but never more so than when working from home and practicing social distancing. Breakfast is also the perfect opportunity to do something for yourself- catch up on the news, read a book, just look out the window or anything else that brings you joy.
- Create a plan for your work day- taking time in the morning to outline your tasks and goals for the day is a great way to maintain focus. This is also something you can share with your supervisor and/or colleagues in order to keep them up to date and informed.
- Work smart- hunching over your laptop for 8 straight hours will not lead to your most productive work. When you feel that you need a break, take one. In the office you would find ways to clear your mind and stretch your legs, so do the same here (more on this below).
- Finish work at a set time- working hours are working hours, and this shouldn’t change just because you’re now living at ‘the office.’ Set a clear end time for your work every day. Of course this can be adjusted in certain cases, as in the office. However, sticking to strict working times can create an important separation of your work and your personal life.
Don’t forget to take time for yourself
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is the feeling that you’re always connected. Too often people get up, turn on the computer, begin working and don’t stop until late in the evening, putting in much more than the 8-hour day. Partly this comes from a drive to ‘prove’ that you’re working, a mindset that you should try to overcome as you become more comfortable with remote work.
Just because your home has now become your office you shouldn’t feel obliged to be available during all waking hours. In fact, now more than ever it’s important to take time for yourself in order to maintain your physical and mental health.
Set clear working hours, with the appropriate amount of breaks, and stick to them! You’ll be doing no one any favors if working from home leaves you drained and unmotivated. Not to mention that your productivity will certainly suffer if you don’t set aside time for yourself.
Find ways to interact in person
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is the loss of human-to-human connection that you find in the office. You’ll quickly come to value, and miss, the in-person interactions that you find in the office.
Humans are social beings, and we need to feel connected. In fact, research shows that 19% of remote workers report loneliness as their biggest challenge. That’s why when working from home it’s crucial to find ways to interact in person.
My team carves out time at least once a week to hold in-person team meetings using video team communication software. During these meetings we have a rule that everyone has to use their camera, and we take time at the beginning to share updates about ourselves. These meetings help us reconnect and reduce our feeling of isolation at home.
Find the right tools
I’ve purposefully put the discussion of tools last, as the previous points are the most important. Too often people hope for a technological solution to a human challenge. Using the right tools can certainly help you feel more connected and increase your ability to collaborate. However, tools are a means rather than an end, and it’s much more important to nail down the points above before considering technology.
With that said, there are some broad categories of tools that can help you and your team stay in touch and maintain productivity. Your choice will depend on many factors, including your current setup, your team’s specific needs, the size of your team, the size of your budget, etc.
This is something to look into when doing your research.
Many businesses are still relying on a locally based network in their offices. If you’re one of them, then it will likely become necessary to begin using cloud computing. This is one of the most efficient ways to have remote access to your internal documents and other vital information. This access is vital to your team’s collaboration.
Here are a few examples of some of the most popular cloud computing solutions:
Amazon Web Services (AWS) – a wide range of web-based services including pay as you go cloud storage. Amazon Web Services is a multifaceted option for your cloud computing needs.
Google Cloud – a cloud computing service that uses the same infrastructure as other popular Google services. Google Cloud allows you to integrate with Google’s popular GSuite tools, which makes it a good choice if you’re used to working with apps like Google Docs.
IBM Cloud – another popular cloud service with a range of features and many flexible options. IBM Cloud offers similar services through 60 data centers worldwide, meaning you can access it from anywhere you’re setting up your remote office.
Team communication solutions
Moving to a remote work setup means that your team will need to consider how to stay in touch. One way to do this is to schedule regular touch point meetings, where you can catch up on your progress, share feedback and brainstorm ideas. There are plenty of options on the market, from instant messaging platforms to video conferencing software. Your choice will ultimately need to reflect your team’s specific needs, for example, whether you need to keep in constant touch and be able to collaborate in groups, or you do most of your work individually.
Here are a few examples of tools to help orient you in your search:
Zoom – a remote conferencing service that’s gaining a lot of attention during the current crisis for its work, educational and social uses. Zoom offers a range of tools for online meetings, chat and collaboration.
Slack – a communication channels based IM platform, Slack allows you to structure your professional communication by teams and topics. There’s also the ability to integrate an unlimited number of apps, which can help streamline your remote communication.
Microsoft Teams – an integrated collaboration platform that provides meetings, chat and storage features. Microsoft Teams is a good choice if you’re looking for a more comprehensive collaboration solution for your remote work.
Organization and Productivity apps
Staying focused and on task is difficult in the best of circumstances. Without the structure that an office environment provides it can become even more difficult. There are a range of apps developed to help teams stay organized and productive. From time tracking and scheduling software, to project planning and workflow organization, there’s an app for pretty much every need.
Here are some different apps that you can check out:
Calendly – an appointment scheduling app that helps to streamline your appointment making and calendar management. Calendly is a good choice if you’re managing multiple meetings and engagements while working remotely.
Trello – a project management software that allows you to break down and visualize larger workflows into individual tasks with assigned owners. Trello is a good option if you need to help structure larger projects.
ProofHub – is an all-in-one organizational and business app designed to empower teams to stay organized, work more efficiently, and increase productivity. With comprehensive features, ProofHub helps simplify project management, team collaboration, work tracking, communication, and scheduling, all on one platform.
Change can be scary, but oftentimes we develop the most in situations when we’re pushed outside of our comfort zones. Suddenly being forced to switch to a home office setup due to external factors is just such a situation. By approaching this change with an open heart, open mind, and of course, a good plan, you can turn a challenge into an opportunity for growth!
As you continue your remote work journey, remember that it is an ongoing process of growth and adaptation. Embrace the opportunity to learn and evolve, constantly seeking new strategies and tools that align with your goals and aspirations.
Additionally, stay connected with the remote work community. Engage in online forums, participate in virtual events, and connect with like-minded individuals. By sharing experiences and insights, you can tap into a wealth of collective knowledge and support.
Finally, always approach remote work with a growth mindset. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, remain adaptable, and be open to exploring new possibilities. Remote work offers tremendous flexibility and freedom, and by continuously expanding your skill set and knowledge, you can unlock its full potential.
Now, armed with a solid foundation, practical strategies, and a resilient mindset, it’s time to embark on your remote work journey with confidence and enthusiasm. Embrace the endless possibilities, seize opportunities, and enjoy the unique benefits that remote work offers.
About the Author
Radina Skorcheva is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Inbound Blogging, specializing in Content marketing and SEO. Radina is helping brands share their voices and scale their businesses through powerful digital marketing strategies. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.