Top 5 Ingredients for a Highly Efficient REMOTE WORKER

The dynamics of working in an office can be taken for granted; hallway conversations, coffee breaks, interruptions from colleagues and the boss, attending meetings, birthday breaks, lunch with colleagues, after work meet ups, etc.  With remote workers, all that changes.  If you have the opportunity to work from home, several conditions are necessary to feel part of the team and maximize performance, while navigating a healthy balance between your professional and personal life.

1) Create a workspace.

Spend time and money to set up an area that will be comfortable, allow you to be as productive as possible, and if practical, create a boundary between ‘at work’ and ‘at home’ (ideally a separate room) space.

2) Establish clear home rules.

After the honeymoon is over (and everyone will go through this when they first start out), you’ll realize that boundaries and rules need to be established in order to be productive and efficient. For me, glass French doors worked well; when closed, I’m ‘at work’ – only bother me if absolutely critical.

3) Change up your surroundings.

Take breaks. Reward yourself after an hour or so by getting a snack or walk the dog. Work at the local coffee shop. Listen to music.  Stretch. Snack. Work on the back deck. It’s ok to change it up; you would if you were at HQ.

4) Use technology to stay connected and engaged.

Use web conferencing software to remove the distance, especially for meetings. Body language is over 50% of our communication, so turn on the camera (mute audio for the dark barking) and don’t be shy.  See Top Tips for Video Conferencing.  Also, using instant messaging can aide in being available. These tools, along with other email apps, also allows your boss to know you’re ‘at work’ (in the event they’re nervous whether you’re working or playing around).

5) Establish a routine.

It’s important to develop good habits as you establish your remote work routine. Set a start time and end time (it will be easy to have work creep since your ‘office’ is so handy), create your plan for the week, schedule time in your calendar for key activities, take breaks, and keep your boss and colleagues informed as necessary.  Consider your optimum productivity period and reserve more difficult work to be done at that time.

Note to the employer: you may not feel comfortable with employees working remotely. The facts are that employees can be more productive working outside the office given a few keys ingredients:

  • Make certain remote team members feel connected and have established a report with those at HQ (including HR, IT, and other key department members as necessary).
  • See item 4 above. Provide a no-fuss high-quality camera Logitech c925e and microphone Blue Yeti Nano or wireless headset Jabra Evolve 65 for your employee, and invest in quality conference audio/visual hardware Meeting Owl for meetings to capture attendees well.
  • Talk through expectations of one another, and trust that your remote team member(s) will do what they need to be successful. Good employees will perform well; don’t try to over-manage them. Consider training for yourself on how to manage a remote team.

Check out Part I – Rules of Engagement for successful a successful video conference (and in-person meeting).