Businesses are finally bringing their offices into the 21st century. Off the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, many workers were forced to adopt an abrupt shift to working remotely.
Now that we have the evidence to show how well working from home works, many employers are deciding to incorporate remote working indefinitely, either full time or as part of a hybrid working scheme.
Whether you are excited, sceptical, or somewhere in between, if you are working remotely, you must learn some key skills to help you make the most of your work experience.
17 ways to maximise your remote working
1. Have a dedicated workspace
When you start working from home, one of the most important things you will need to decide is where you will work.
Having a dedicated workspace will help you get into the correct headspace to focus on work. It will also allow you to keep a divide between your work and home life.
After all, just as you wouldn’t want to sleep at your office, you don’t want to bring your work to your unwinding space.
Choose a room with a desk that works for you, and have this as your dedicated workspace where all you do is work.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of having a home office or a separate room they can work from. You may live in a studio and have to work in the same place you eat, sleep and chill out.
If this is the case, it is vital you remove your work equipment every night where possible to create a mental and visual barrier between your home and work life
2. Make sure you get your exercise in
It is so easy to become glued to your computer screen when working from home that you forget to move around.
With the morning and evening commute cut out of your day, you lose a lot of movement time. It is therefore essential that you replace this time with exercise at some point during your day.
Experts recommend walking or light exercise for 30 minutes a day.
You can achieve this by going on a walk before/after work or choosing an at-home workout. You can also schedule time for the gym if this is your preferred method of exercise.
You’ll find that the regular exercise will help keep you sharp and focused during the day so you can get some great work done.
3. Take regular breaks
Working from home probably means you have a more comfortable setup than at the office. Or at the very least, a space that is tailor-made to suit your needs.
As such, it can be difficult to forget you are still “at work” and end up working for more extended periods of time than you would have.
Taking breaks is extremely important, not only for your productivity but also for your mental wellbeing.
To ensure you are taking regular breaks, set your alarm at regular intervals. You should go no more than 90 minutes without having a break (but you can pick the period that suits your body clock best).
You may find the Pomodoro technique useful. This is where you set a timer for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. You can adjust the minutes as you see fit. There are many free Pomodoro apps you can use to help track your times.
4. Take dedicated lunch breaks
Similar to taking breaks, it can be easy to work through your lunch break. And given that you have your kitchen within walking distance, you may find yourself in the bad habit of cooking your lunch while you work and subsequently eating it while working.
Lunch breaks are a good opportunity to take a longer break from your work and exercise some self-care.
To ensure you take your lunch breaks, make sure you pick a time that works for you and commit to the time you have put aside.
You may find it easier to make your dinner the night before or batch cook so that you aren’t spending your lunch break cooking and can enjoy your break with either exercise, relaxation or socialising – whatever helps you switch off for a while.
5. Stay hydrated
Being engrossed with your work, it is easy to forget to drink water regularly.
To combat this, always keep a bottle of water at your desk. If necessary, schedule water breaks or alarms if you know you struggle with this.
You might also find it helpful to find a co-worker to become an accountability buddy, so you both stay on top of your water throughout the day.
6. Make and keep a work schedule/routine
Depending on your employer, you may still have to stick to the regular 9-5 schedule, or you may be allowed to create your own.
In both cases, it is recommended that you create and keep a schedule to help keep yourself accountable during the day.
The benefit of setting your own schedule is that you can select your hours to align with your body clock, meaning if you are a night owl, you no longer have to start work in zombie mode!
Experiment with your productivity timings and create a routine that works for you.
Even if you are a night owl still having to work 9-5, you can still adjust your schedule to start slow and build up if this benefits you.
If you feel you need accountability or want to track your working time, try downloading a time tracker like Clockify.
7. Keep in regular contact with your colleagues
Working remotely can feel lonely. This is because you no longer have co-workers to randomly bump into and chat with throughout the day.
To maintain team morale and mental wellbeing, you should try and reach out to your co-workers regularly for casual chit chat.
Even a quick good morning and have a nice evening message makes a huge difference.
8. Make time for team-building
As well as informal chats with co-workers, it is essential to keep your work team connected.
One great way to do this is to schedule non-work team building events once or twice a week.
Not only will this help team morale, but it will also help with improving communication and problem-solving skills.
9. Take advantage of video calls
Video calls are a good way to feel less isolated while working from home. In addition, seeing familiar faces helps to create a sense of being present.
It is helpful to be able to see people’s faces and hear them while interacting.
Video calls also make it easier to answer problems that arise during the workday. Having a quick call means you are more likely to avoid misunderstandings over messages and reduce the overall time taken on the issue.
10. Keep a work diary to stay on top of your responsibilities and to-do list
Working from home can sometimes feel like you haven’t got a lot of work done.
That’s why it is a good idea to record what you have done with your day to see how much you can achieve. This may also be useful for your employers to know as well.
It is also a good idea to keep a work diary to create a plan of attack for your workload. This will help you keep on top of any additional tasks given during the day and avoid unnecessary forgetfulness.
11. Always work from a desk or table
It can be tempting to stay in bed all day with your laptop when faced with remote working. However, the sofa might also be on your list. After all, they are probably the comfiest places in your house.
Unfortunately, working from your bed or the sofa is terrible for a few reasons.
Firstly, it creates a subconscious link between your rest space and your workspace, merging the two worlds and likely to cause you to think about work during your time off when in these places.
Secondly, working from your bed or sofa could wreak havoc on your physical health. It will most likely misalign your spine and cause wrist injuries due to the awkward angles needed to get work done.
Finally, being comfortable in bed will make you far less likely to get up and stretch every so often, leading you to become over sedentary during your day.
If you can, a desk is preferable to a table as desks are explicitly made to be at a height comfortable to work at; however, make the best of what you have. The kitchen table is far more preferable to hunching over your laptop on the sofa all day.
12. Create a distraction-free environment
Distraction-free environments mean different things to different people, so how you create yours will be unique to you.
Some people prefer to work in silence while others need noise to help them concentrate.
Consider playing white noise or alpha wave music in the background to help you concentrate if you can’t work in silence or if your surroundings are distractingly noisy.
Family and roommates can accidentally cause distractions too. As we are more accessible when working from home, you may need to consider creating stricter boundaries with those you live with so they know not to disturb you during work hours.
13. Make time for fresh air every day
It is vital for your mental health to experience nature often. It can feel quite restrictive working from home, as though you are trapped indoors. And with the work commute gone, your interactions with the outside world diminish.
Therefore, getting a little fresh air every day will help you keep healthy when working remotely.
This could mean going for short walks during the day to incorporate the outside world into your daily schedule.
If you are lucky enough to have a garden or balcony where you live, take advantage and go outside for a few minutes.
Even just a few minutes of fresh air a day can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on your mental health.
14. Set your boundaries
Having set work hours is key to a positive remote working experience.
Some employers may act as if working remotely is a privilege that you owe them for. As such, they may make unreasonable requests for you to work outside your hours or job specification.
It is crucial to assert your boundaries and only work the hours you are contracted to so you are not taken advantage of at work.
15. Get dressed
Working from home, no one will see you, so naturally, we like to wear the comfiest clothes we have. Often this is pyjamas or just old clothes we wouldn’t go out in. At least not to work anyway!
Dressing up as if you are going to be in the office puts you in the work mindset. Of course, you don’t have to go full suit and tie but wearing non-lounge clothes provides a subliminal message to your brain that it is action time.
It’s also helpful in case you get any unexpected video calls from the boss!
16. Eat the frog
No, not literally! There is a popular productivity book called “Eat the frog” by Brian Tracey.
The basic concept is that you tackle your biggest task first thing in the morning. This way, you avoid a day of dread that may cause you to procrastinate.
Getting the big stuff out the way first will get you right into the swing of things and set your day up for maximum productivity.
17. Ergonomics and equipment
There is nothing worse than not having the proper setup to get your work done.
This includes not only technology but also the right equipment for you to work comfortably.
Don’t underestimate the importance of having a supportive chair, a proper work desk, and a big enough screen that can be adjusted to your eye height.
Without these, you may develop neck and muscle pains over time due to prolonged sitting in uncomfortable positions.
Your employers are expected to provide you with the equipment needed to work healthily, so contact them to see what can be done if there is anything you need.
It is also recommended that you get up and stretch often to help relieve tension from sitting and working for long periods.
Finally, make sure you look after your eyesight by following the 20:20:20 rule – every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help protect your eyes from the strain of looking at a screen all day.
Working remotely has given workers back hours they were losing on their morning commutes and provides employers with a more sustainable business model.
By following the simple tips above, you will be able to adapt working from home successfully to your life and make it work for you.
You’ll be surprised at just how much you can accomplish from home!