20 Tips on How to Work From Home or Remotely | Remote Year
12. Nov. 2021
So you’ve convinced your boss to let you work remotely, oryou’ve been lucky to find remote jobs- now what?
Working remotely from home comes with obvious benefits. Just think about it: greater flexibility, more freedom, and less money and time spent on commutes. And if you can work from home, you can also work from anywhere, by taking your work on your laptop and exploring the world.
Obviously, when we say taking your remote job on the road is fun, we also acknowledge that this new lifestyle will come with a few challenges. Burnout will be a distinct issue, for instance. And if you’re fond of spending more time on social media than you should, remote working may amplify this behavior as well.
So, how can you stay productive, creative, and inspired while working on the road? As a fully-distributed company ourselves, leading work and travel programs, we have a few tips and tricks up our sleeves for how to work from home or abroad.
Start and end your days with a routine, create a to-do list and stick to it
Communicate with your colleagues, and make sure to lean on them when needed
know your preferred working style and set ground rules for family and friends
Tap into the benefits of reliable tech
Make time for self care and take scheduled breaks to avoid burning out
Perfect the art of achieving a flow state
1. Create a morning routine
From Buenos Aires to Chiang Mai, we taped our community on how their morning routines have evolved and adapted to the beautiful places they're working from. Your morning routine can help you wake up and ease you into the new day gently. Here are some tips for a morning routine when remote working from our community;
Wake up at the same time every day
Resist the urge to hit snooze
Don’t go online first thing in the morning unless it’s urgent
Turn on the lights and open the blinds for natural light
Drink a glass of water
Have a few minutes of quiet time to connect with yourself. You can write, meditate, or pray
Take a walk or do some light yoga to get those endorphins flowing
Shower and dress up for work
Have your breakfast
2. Over-Communicate With Your Colleagues
Effective communication is one of the most important tips for working from home or while on the road. Be proactive. Proactive communication is about answering questions before your manager or teammates ask them. It promotes positivity, which leads to building relationships and delivering on objectives.
It’s your job to schedule 1:1 check-in meetings with them weekly to connect on your goals, upcoming projects, and daily tasks.
Make sure to advocate for yourself and clearly state your progress in the past week. Let them know which goals you’ve surpassed and which projects you’ve led. When you’re not in the office, it can be difficult for your manager to keep your work top-of-mind, so don’t be afraid to bring important milestones up on your own.
3. Invest in reliable tech
When you work remotely from home, it’s all down to you to set up a home office that will boost creativity and productivity. This calls for a little bit more creativity if you’re traveling while working.
Access to consistent Wi-Fi will be your first consideration. You also need to plan for tools and tech you’ll need to do your job well. For example, many remote workers invest in a great pair of noise-canceling headphones to take their work anywhere - regardless of background noise levels. Others find that wireless keyboards and mouses, or even a second screen, are integral to their efficiency.
Spending eight hours straight crouched behind a laptop is a recipe for back pain, not success. Get yourself an adjustable desk or a portable desk riser, so you can switch from sitting to standing.
4. Lean on your community
Isolation is one of the main challenges you face as a remote worker. Let’s face it- how do you meet new people when you spend your 1-hour break on Netflix? Unless you make an effort to socialize, the odds are that you won’t.
Left unchecked, loneliness from long-term remote working can impact your physical and mental health, leading to poor performance.
To ensure that you’re feeling supported and connected to the “real world”, we recommend becoming a part of a remote community - virtually or in person at a local coworking space or collective.
We’ve found that being surrounded by others successfully working remotely inspires beginners to stay the course and remain productive while embracing location flexibility.
5. Consider your workspace
Another solution for how to successfully work from home or on the road is working in a workspace that inspires you to focus on the task at hand.
This could mean finding a great coworking space near you, staking out a local coffee shop, or creating a designated spot for work at home. Whatever you do, make sure that you feel motivated by your environment and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.
When designing a personal workspace at home, it’s important to ensure that it offers your ideal noise level. If you prefer working in total silence, you’ll probably want to set your desk in one of the quietest areas around your house or invest in good quality noise-canceling earbuds.
6. Figure out your working style
Understanding your working style is key to figuring out how to effectively work from home. Your work style simply refers to how you approach your work. It’s about how you think, structure, and complete the task at hand. Everybody is different, and that’s why there are different work styles.
For instance, some workers prefer planning out every detail of the project alone. Other team members have a collaborative work style and enjoy brainstorming creative ideas as a group.
Knowing your working style (and making it known to others as well) means that you are assigned tasks that are best fitted for that particular style. As a result, you achieve peak performance pretty quickly.
7. Take time for self-care
When the line between “work” and “home” starts to blur, you might find yourself stuck to your computer screen for a longer period (see next point). Sometimes this may be unavoidable when closing a major deal or finalizing an important presentation. But you really need to create time for yourself. Otherwise, these working from home tips won’t be of any help if you’re struggling with stress and burnout feelings.
Come up with a fitness routine and commit to it. Having one or two hobbies that you can pursue while traveling will also help maintain a healthy work-life balance. Several travel-inspired hobbies you can think of include photography, drawing, writing, and even videography and blogging.
8. Know when to “log off”
The world is becoming increasingly connected- and that’s a good thing. However, if you work remotely from home, this connectivity may make it challenging to know when to call it a day. This problem is prevalent among remote work beginners.
The best part of working remotely is the flexibility to work when you are most productive- during the day and even at night. Though you may receive emails and chat notifications at any hour (especially if you’re working in different time zones with your coworkers), it’s important to develop a habit of setting a time when you officially “log off” for the night.
Your brain requires downtime now and then to maintain the pathways necessary to create new memories. Without adequate rest, it’s harder for your brain to focus and respond quickly. On the other hand, having enough mental time-out sharpens your creativity and ability to come up with solutions. So be careful about setting the standard that you are available 24/7.
9. Embrace the perks of working remotely
Working remotely doesn’t just apply to those who would work from home or in the same region as their company’s office. If it’s possible with your current position, take your talent on the road! On Remote Year, employees, freelancers, and entrepreneurs work from places like Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Cape Town, Lisbon, and Mexico City - all while enjoying the support of an incredible community.
10. Maintain regular hours
Keeping your working hours in check is one of the top tips for working from home or while touring the globe. Maintaining regular work hours helps establish a routine. You add structure to your work life so that you know what you should be doing at a particular time. By doing this, you spend less time planning and arguing with yourself over what task to handle first.
Maintaining routine working hours means blocking out quality time for the tasks assigned to you. And this helps keep forthcoming deadlines in check, meaning less stress to you and others.
To stick to regular hours, here are remote work tips and strategies you can try:
Schedule blocks of time for specific tasks
Layout a plan of what you need to accomplish weekly
Set small goals
Train yourself to be consistent with time management
Track reward yourself
11. Set ground rules with the people in your space
Because you’re home every day all day, it’s easy for others to assume that you’re ever down for face-timing, babysitting, receiving packages, and even grabbing coffee at their favorite joint.
When this happens, the burden is on you to train your loved ones to treat your work just like they do their outside-the-home jobs. If you haven’t done it already, start by explaining to your family and friends what it means to work remotely from home.
Be the first one to take your job seriously. And learn to say NO to requests from others during working hours. Let them know when you’re not available to run errands for them or hang out.
Most importantly, set work hours and stick to them. This way, you’re able to accomplish your work goals while having ample time to spend with your family and friends.
12. Take scheduled breaks
Taking short breaks may seem like a waste of time, especially when you’re working to beat a deadline. But in truth, taking regular breaks is one of the most effective tips for working remotely or in the office for various reasons.
A short break after every 25-90 minutes is a chance to give your prefrontal cortex a brief respite. This is similar to hitting the restart button and allows you to come back to your task with renewed energy. Breaks also offer you a chance to refocus and have a clearer view of the bigger picture, which in turn boosts your creativity and productivity.
13. Plan out what you’ll be working on ahead of time
Planning helps you achieve a flow state quickly (see next point), allowing you to get important stuff done without struggling.
There are several practical tips for working at home or on the road that can help plan out your work when working remotely. Start by creating a task list and make it a habit to refer back to it regularly. This list should include all the tasks you need to complete within a predetermined duration. Of course, these small goals need to be achievable.
Importantly, ensure that your task list is in sync with the work at home tips mentioned above, including maintaining regular work hours, self-care, and taking scheduled breaks.
14. Perfect the art of achieving “flow state”
Flow is a state of mind where you’re completely engaged in the task at hand, so much that you don’t realize time passing. When you’re in flow state, you tend to forget the world around you and focus every bandwidth on what you’re doing.
Working in a flow state creates a sense of control and happiness in work. This state of mind boosts your creativity, while reducing stress. If you’re easily distracted from work, this could be the answer to how to successfully work from home or when traveling.
Not everyone is able to achieve flow with ease. But these tips may help:
Choose projects you’re passionate about
Work at peak energy and quiet hours
Choose interesting but challenging tasks
Clear away distractions on your desk
Be emotionally calm
15. Attend meetings and be heard
One cool benefit of having a remote job is the freedom to travel the world as you work. But you still want to get in touch with the rest of the team when required. Virtual meetings are some of the best practices that enhance collaboration and keep the entire team engaged, ultimately improving productivity.
And don’t just attend. Be heard. Virtual meetings offer a perfect opportunity to voice your insights or ideas. Speaking up is not only about you but also about the collective intelligence of the entire team. Your input could be the missing puzzle to another team member’s breakthrough.
16. Prepare meals the night before
Cooking your meals at home can be a real time and money saver. But in theory, the time you spend whipping together a fresh lunch every day can add up really quickly. Sparing an hour or two for cooking can be a big ask when your schedule is especially packed with pending tasks and upcoming meetings.
This is where cooking food the night before makes sense. Preparing your favorite food beforehand allows you to work remotely from home without wasting precious time in the middle of the day or resulting in unhealthy eating habits.
Preparing meals the night before also means that you only take a little break from the flow state. If you’re the type that takes longer to bounce back after an interruption, having to cook from scratch can be a huge energy suck.
17. Pick a definitive finishing time
People who work remotely from home save around 6 hours weekly thanks to no commute and fewer distractions. But do you know what the biggest trap of working from home is? You guessed it right- working extra hours.
If you’re a victim of this trap, start by conducting a time audit to determine why your work is taking more time of your day than it should. It’s also important to pick a definite finishing time and stick to it. Closely related to that is the importance of communicating and creating shared expectations with your employer and other team members. This will help avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary pressure.
18. Make it harder to use social media
There’s no harm in using social media if it’s connected to your work. However, there’s a problem if you’re mindlessly spending too much time scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for personal reasons during work hours.
Spending a ton of your time on social sites can subconsciously trigger feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction. This can dampen your happiness, ultimately bringing down productivity.
The internet has tons of tips to work from home without social media distractions. Some that you could try include turning off notifications and hiding social media apps from your phone’s homepage. Another option is to delete the apps on your phone and instead access social media solely from your computer.
19. Socialize with your colleagues
Working remotely should not be a reason to halt the connection and bond you have with your colleagues. In actuality, individuals who work remotely from home need to foster meaningful relationships with others to enhance collaboration.
Instant messaging platforms with virtual water coolers, like Dialpad and Slack, are a creative way to start socializing remotely. Video calls where you talk to your colleagues’ faces and regular voice calls are other ways to connect deeply.
20. End your day with a routine
One of the top tips for working from home effectively is to create a morning routine and stick to it. Likewise, you need to have a work shutdown ritual. Essentially, this is a behavior that eases your brain into the other phase of your life.
Having a solid way to end your evening is crucial to improving your work-life balance. Especially for workers who want to balance working and traveling the world, such a routine can help create a strong boundary between work and downtime.
Here are a few tips that can help you end your day in style while setting you up to a good start the following morning:
Review and acknowledge your accomplishments for the day
Prepare a to-do list for tomorrow
Actively disengage from your work environment by shutting down and closing your laptop
Change to after-work clothes
Break a sweat
FaceTime or hang out with a loved one
Now that you’re working remotely, life will look slightly different (and a little more awesome). However, if you rely on the 20 work at home tips we’ve listed above, the transition to the freedom of a flexible work style will be smooth and successful.
What makes working from home easier?
Working from home means greater flexibility in working arrangements. In most cases, you’re free to work flexible hours, for instance, in the morning, afternoon or evening hours.
Is working from home stressful?
Remote working stress is common, especially among beginners due to rapid changes in routine and reduced social interaction. But there are remote work tips to mitigate loneliness, including practicing remote socialization, having a routine, and taking breaks.
How can I stay motivated to work from home?
The first step to staying motivated when working remotely is clarifying your personal vision. Next, act immediately with your focus on success. Reviewing your daily accomplishments while reflecting on your broader vision is another surefire way to regain and maintain motivation.
Is working remotely the same as working from home?
No. Working remotely means working in any location other than your employer’s corporate office building. This location could be your home, a private office, or a coworking space. On the other hand, working from home is a form of remote working, but it’s an option for those days when you decide not to commute to the office.
Can remote employees work from anywhere?
It depends on the employer’s policies. Some organizations like Reddit allow their employees to work from anywhere full time. However, most businesses don’t allow this for reasons ranging from tax laws to time zones and the need for regular in-person meetings. Ensure you understand the ground rules before accepting an offer for a remote position and before relocating to your dream destination because you work remotely.