Making remote working work for you: our top tips for employees

Suddenly we’re all living in the new normal of remote work. So how can you make the most of the new freedoms and opportunities on offer? And what are the big pitfalls to avoid? At Devjbs, we’ve put together our top five tips for succeeding as a remote working professional today.

Tip 1: Find your own rhythm

According to Buffer’s report on The State of Remote Work 2020, the single biggest benefit (voted for by 32% of the 3,500 respondents) was the ability to have a flexible schedule. Some people will like sticking to the 9 to 5 routine of course, but many others are exploring different ways to manage their time and their work.
In fact, the majority of employees will be experiencing what it’s like to work largely unsupervised for the first time in their careers. So it makes sense to experiment a little and find the working style that best suits you. Maybe you’re most productive in short bursts? Try breaking your day into 30-minute sprints with 5-10 minute breaks in between. Or perhaps you’re the complete opposite? Try concentrating for longer periods to achieve a shorter working day with more downtime later.

Tip 2: Create the right working environment

Imagine the scene: it’s your first day at work in a new company. You arrive to find a space set aside for you with everything you need. There’s a desk with plenty of room to spread out. A computer with all the right software, connected to a network that won’t let you down. You even have a fancy chair, ergonomically designed to support good posture and long-term health.
It’s all been thought of and provided – and that means you can concentrate on doing your job to the best of your abilities.

Except, of course, with remote working none of the above happens automatically. In the new working environment – most likely your own home – it’s entirely down to you to make sure you have everything you need to stay productive and healthy in the weeks, months, possibly years to come. So make creating a comfortable, practical, distraction-free working space your number-one priority.

Tip 3: Seek water-cooler moments

Buffer’s 2020 report into remote working is overwhelmingly upbeat about the new reality for many workers. An amazing 98% of the 3,500 remote workers surveyed said they want to continue working this way for at least some of their career, and 97% said they would recommend it to others.

But not everything was so positive. When asked to identify their biggest struggle with working remotely, 20% said collaboration and communication, while a further 20% said loneliness. These ‘social’ downsides to remote working are perhaps unsurprising – but they do flag the vital importance of trying to recreate the human relationships and casual interactions that were a natural part of office-based work.

This is a problem that companies will doubtless seek to solve in the years to come. But in the meantime, it’s largely down to us as individuals to navigate our way around the issue. So think about the nature of your work and your team. How can you find opportunities to make human connections in your daily work? Is it possible to take time for light-hearted moments in meetings? Or could you set up informal online chats with like-minded colleagues?

Tip 4: Maintain work-life hygiene

Even before remote working became the norm, the world of work was already seriously encroaching on the rest of our lives. Our devices would alert us to emails from colleagues in the evenings. Start times and end times for the working day were getting ever more elastic, especially for those of us working in teams spread across different time zones.

But now that our homes have become our places of work, it’s more important than ever to create and maintain the boundary between the two. On one hand, you need to be clear to your family that you are working even though you are ‘at home’. And on the other, you need to be equally clear with colleagues and managers when you are enjoying your own personal time.

Simply setting tools like Slack to ‘do not disturb’ after a certain point in the day is a great way of letting everyone on the team know when you’re available and when you’re not. And don’t be ashamed of switching off when your working day is done – after all, it’s in nobody’s interest for you to burn out or stop enjoying your work.

Tip 5: Minimize distractions

Remember open plan offices? All that noise, all those distractions? One of the greatest aspects of remote working is the ability to create an environment where you can concentrate without interruption for extended periods of time.

It’s amazing how much that can improve the quality and quantity of your work. But of course, the home has its own unique set of distractions to be aware of too. Household chores, pets, family members – all of these can easily intrude on your thoughts and break your flow. Part of successfully working from home is finding ways to minimize and manage these little disturbances.
But our top tip here is very simple. That phone in your pocket or on your desk? It’s an expertly engineered distraction machine. Just picking it up to check something can easily turn into half an hour of reading messages or browsing Twitter. Placing it out of reach will transform your ability to focus on your work – and you’ll have something to look forward to when it’s time for a break, too.