Telecommuting has afforded many employees a freedom and flexibility that wasn’t possible just a few years ago. We have multiple devices capable of helping us through the work day, we can use our own laptops, tablets or phones to quickly and easily complete tasks, and we can do all this from pretty much anywhere.
SaaS technology and apps have also made the lives of those who travel extensively for a living that bit easier; no longer is there a disconnect while employees are away from the office.
You would assume that all of the above would mean that it’s almost impossible not to be productive while working remotely, but you’d be wrong. There are certain considerations you should make if you want to truly make the most of your time.
1. Get into the right mindset
Working remotely is fast becoming as normal as spending the day at your desk in the office. In terms of discipline and productivity, you should aim to achieve the same amount of quality output, regardless of your location or environment.
Quite often it will take longer, and therefore lengthen your working day, to get everything done when telecommuting. Understanding that working from home isn’t an ‘easy option’ is the first step when preparing to telecommute.
Psychology Today asked employers:
“If you were hiring someone today, and you had to choose between A) the person with the perfect skills and qualifications, but lacking the desired mindset, or B) the person with the desired mindset, but lacking the skills and qualifications, which would you pick?”
98 percent chose mindset over skillset. Mindset helps you win the job over others who may be more qualified.
Getting enough rest and being ready for the day ahead is an often overlooked element in achieving the right frame of mind for a productive day. If you’re overly tired then you’ll not want to work (from wherever that might be) and the work you do won’t be your absolute best.
2. Have the right tools ready
Have you written a checklist of the things you require for a successful day of remote work? There are the obvious items, such as a laptop and phone, but what about:
- A fast and reliable internet connection
- An external hard drive
- Headphones (both to help you focus and for teleconferences/video calls)
- A phone charger
- A mouse (much easier to use for the entire day than a laptop touch pad)
- A decent ergonomic laptop bag
There may be a brief period of trial and error during your first few days of working remotely, as you figure out which items you do and don’t need, but taking the time to optimise your nomad kit is vital.
Travelling as light as possible is key, but you need to achieve it without compromising on your ability to be productive and as effective in what you do.
3. Reduce (or remove) distractions
There’s no point in finding a great coffee shop to work at, which is quiet and seems great for focus and concentration, and then positioning yourself in front of the window.
The time you’ll spend watching the world go by will soon add up and you’ll inevitably still be there long into the evening trying to finish your day’s work.
Think logically and realistically about how you work and what will distract you in certain environments.
- Would you be better off sat in a quiet position, where there’s less chance of being distracted?
- Do you need to wear headphones to block out the noise of a public place or would you work better with ambient sounds?
- Will you need to move during those certain periods of the day that will likely become more distracting than others in the location you’re working in (e.g. lunchtime)?
It’s very difficult to work in a public space and remain 100% focused for any length of time. If you’re easily distracted, then you’ll have a difficult time being productive when not in an office environment.
— Steve Ramirez (@SteveRamirez) July 8, 2016
It’s not just your locale that can affect your focus. Turn off social media notifications, work on one tab at a time within your browser and check your email during set time periods, not ‘as and when’.
4. Try to build a routine (as best you can)
Maintaining a routine is just as important, if not more so, when working remotely as it is in the office.
Organising your time, prioritising tasks and tracking your progress will all help you to get things done, motivate you and ensure that you stay on top of your responsibilities.
Applying structure to your day negates the need to spend time regularly scheduling your days ahead of time; you’ll already be aware of what’s on the plan for the next day.
It’s the same for the tasks you have planned for the day, once you finish one you instantly know what’s next, and so on.
This structure provides direction in what you have to achieve in your day, it allows you to simply get on with things, rather than procrastinating over what you still have to do and when you should do it.
A routine also helps to motivate you, as there’s a sense of progress and achievement if you’re aware of what percentage of your daily duties you’ve already completed (and what’s left).
5. Know the best places to be productive
If you live or work in a city, there will literally be thousands of places you could spend your day as a digital nomad. Knowing which locations enable you to make the most of your time is imperative.
One great way to discover the top remote workspaces is to crowdsource your search. Use social media to ask where the top locations are for certain things, such as a reliable internet connection, environmental conditions like lighting, noise and ergonomics, or even where serves the best macchiatos!
Joining certain groups on social media will help you to discover great places to work, as well as provide a wealth of information on telecommuting best practices, tips, tricks and hacks, to get the most from whatever situation you find yourself working in on a particular day.
6. Choose your workspace wisely
As with a ‘normal’ office environment, it’s important to consider the space that you’ll be spending a significant portion of your day in wisely. Things to consider include:
- Lighting – is it natural, is it too harsh (strip lights), do you get glare from the light on your laptop screen?
- Comfort – are the chairs comfortable for long durations? A sofa may be great for lounging in, but not so much for working with a laptop
- Temperature – is the temperature comfortable for working in? Remember, you’ll be sat relatively still most of the time
- Is the workspace too busy – could you conduct a business call or video chat comfortably? Is the seating too cramped?
- Sustenance – do you have easy access to a healthy lunch and drinks throughout the day, to maintain energy and focus levels?
- Access – is the workplace easy to get to and from? Would it just be easier to go to the office?!
7. Stay on the grid
Even when you’re 1000 miles away from the office, in the modern world there’s no excuse for not being contactable. Whether via a messaging app on your phone, email, Skype, voice call, video conference or other communication tools, you should be able to contact and respond to your colleagues.
Their productivity, as well as yours, relies on efficient collaboration throughout the day. Working as a team doesn’t stop just because you’re not in the immediate vicinity of your work mates.
Virtual meetings take place between business locations and you should be able to accommodate these if required from wherever you are.