10 Remote Work Tips for Staying Productive in 2023
Whether you’re working from home full-time or as part of a hybrid work structure, taking simple steps can pay big dividends and improve your professional effectiveness. Here are 10 remote work tips to help you prove most productive in 2023.
1. Structure Regular Routines
Just because you no longer scrape ice from your car windows in the morning or slog through a tiresome commute doesn’t mean structuring a regular schedule is a bad idea. In fact, the opposite is true. Research and articles encourage establishing a professional routine to improve focus, mental function, creativity and productivity.
When working from home (WFH), create a regular routine. Rise at the same time each day. Establish a schedule. Eat breakfast and lunch and stop working around the same times each day, otherwise you may find the balance between personal and professional lives blurring, which can adversely impact efficiencies and health.
Maintain routines just as if you were physically working at your organization’s facilities. By formalizing daily habits, you can better direct time that would have been lost commuting, parking and traveling to meetings and picking up lunch.
That doesn’t mean you need to stretch the business day, however. Schedule specific time windows for performing focused work. Dedicate other periods to eating breakfast, having lunch or taking quick walks, among other enriching activities. By regularly repeating a routine and establishing healthy and productive habits, you can prevent losing time trying to determine what to do next and, instead, begin reaping the proven benefits of a systematic schedule.
2. Safeguard Data And Devices
Avoid unnecessary disruptions and time lost to repairs and remediation efforts resulting from cybersecurity lapses. Whether working at a corporate office or in your home, maintaining professional computing habits remains paramount. Malware infections can rapidly spread from the digital devices you’re using in your home office via VPNs, cloud services and other resources to and across a corporate network.
Don’t permit house mates or family members to use your work equipment—including smartphones and tablets—connected to corporate resources for personal use. Prevent others from even seeing information on your screens, as proprietary, HIPAA-protected or other sensitive information must be kept private. Set computer lock screens to activate quickly and require a password upon waking.
Close doors before beginning conference calls and video meetings. Ensure systems are encrypted and protected by strong passwords and passcodes, too. And never leave a laptop or other work equipment in a car parked outside overnight. Such high value items are frequently stolen, and it’s incumbent those working from home apply the same dedication to protecting equipment and data from unauthorized users and theft as when working within a corporate headquarters or facility.
3. Confirm Your Work Schedule With Your House Mates
Setting boundaries is necessary when working from home. While having pets join you while working remotely is one of the benefits of remote work, roommates, children, partners and family members often prove distracting.
Let others know when you’ll be working from home. Discuss the importance of having uninterrupted time to concentrate on your professional responsibilities, the need for reasonable quiet in which to conduct conference calls and virtual meetings and the importance of privacy. Agree before the workweek on your work schedule and some basic ground rules for ensuring your professional needs are respected whenever your schedule involves working from home.
4. Designate A Dedicated Workspace
When working from home, designate a dedicated workspace for fulfilling professional responsibilities. While you need not set up a stunning workstation worthy of online adoration within the r/battlestations Subreddit, your space should be sufficiently spacious as to permit you to sit comfortably for extended periods of time, while accommodating the equipment you require.
While some may work effectively using just an iPad, others may need space for a laptop and an external display, keyboard and mouse or other equipment. Carving out a specific space, such as an unused bedroom dedicated for use as a home office, works great, but such a luxury isn’t always possible. Fortunately, breakfast counters and dining room tables can double as productive workspaces, as can a properly configured coffee table, in a pinch.
What’s important is to set up a dedicated space from which you can work each day. If necessary, you can also set up and break down your remote work area each day, which can help signal your body that the workday is beginning and ending.
5. Minimize Distractions
Although remote work offers many benefits, one potential drawback is the increased likelihood of distractions. Getting the mail, throwing a quick load in the wash and brewing fresh coffee all offer healthy opportunities to stretch and reenergize the body away from your desk.
Other temptations, however, can prove disruptive. Gaming consoles, chatty roommates and hobbies, among other enticements, are all potentially distracting. Neither are those working from home immune to interruptions they’re familiar battling when working from a headquarters or branch office, either. Unending digital notifications and regular email alerts continually challenge attention.
When working remotely, it’s important to recognize and plan for corresponding distractions. While it’s OK to occasionally become sidetracked, remote workers should watch for excessive interruptions and take steps to minimize distractions. Increasingly, productivity enthusiasts advocate closing email except for a few periods a day, disabling digital notifications and taking advantage of focus features integrated within their devices to better encourage dedicating undivided attention to tasks at hand.
6. Take Regular Breaks
Potentially counterintuitive is the fact regular breaks and exercising midday can, surprisingly, make you more productive. According to multiple sources, regularly taking a break during the workday helps enhance job satisfaction, boost mental health and improve productivity.
Remembering to take regular breaks is easy to forget. As the workday progresses and you become caught up in tasks, meetings and messages, it’s natural to lose track of time. Consider setting reminders or using a timer to help remember the importance of stepping away from your desk, if briefly.
7. Resolve Technology Issues Promptly
How often, when attending networking events, meeting with neighbors or collecting with family, do you hear people complain about slow WiFi connections, problematic computers and other technology problems? These are common complaints. These issues impact your ability to work efficiently and productively. Worse, such troubles can prove particularly vexing when you’re working remotely, as no IT staff are typically onsite to assist.
Don’t let technology issues persist. Reach out to your organization’s help desk. Create service tickets whenever you’re having trouble, can’t access resources or are experiencing other problems. The sooner technology problems are addressed, the sooner you can return to working as efficiently and productively as possible.
8. Establish And Enforce Boundaries
Just as confirming a work schedule with house mates helps set expectations and hopefully minimize interruptions, establishing and enforcing professional boundaries when working remotely can help preserve your sanity. Understanding upfront with your employer what hours you will be available and when you’re to be considered off work when working remotely helps prevent burnout and maintain healthy habits.
Leaving a corporate site and commuting home provides a natural break and transition to the workday. When working remotely, that transition and subsequent buffer are lost. And when an area of your home is configured as an office, regularly passing the workspace often heightens the temptation and anxiety to check email, confirm a project’s status or perform other seemingly innocuous tasks.
But those tasks, and those intrusions on your privacy and personal life, add up. So guard against letting the presence of a home office and a remote or even hybrid work environment consume your home life in an unhealthy way.
9. Create Your Own Functional Inconveniences
One intriguing advantage lost when not working within an organization’s physical offices is the elimination of random coworker and colleague interactions. Whether walking to the break room for a cup of coffee, riding an elevator or visiting a rest room or supply cabinet, a number of impromptu encounters and conversations occur. Sometimes these interruptions consume ten minutes or more, so office workers are often thankful to eliminate these encounters from their daily routines. But a surprising amount of information can be exchanged because of these “functional inconveniences,” as organizational behaviorists sometimes refer to such experiences traditionally associated with occurring near a company’s water cooler.
When working remotely, don’t shut yourself off from such interactions, which can actually communicate important company news, impending changes or similar information. Circulate online. Take advantage of email, messaging platforms, virtual meeting infrastructure and interactive portals designed to encourage team cooperation and collaboration.
Regularly reach out to coworkers. Such interactions don’t need to seem forced or solely self-serving. Ask how a coworker is proceeding with a project, whether you can provide assistance or if they have questions, too, regarding a new announcement that maybe left you confused. By opening lines of communication and reaching out to others at your organization and genuinely inquiring as to how they are or whether they saw news of something you believe would interest them due to interests or hobbies you know they have, you can recapture some of these informal interactions known to help one feel tied to a broader team and a firm’s larger purpose and mission.
10. Communicate Well And Often
When working remotely, regularly contacting colleagues addresses the matter of remaining connected, both personally and professionally, with coworkers. But working outside the office leaves another gap: the loss of physical face time with a manager, department director and other leaders.
Compensate for the lack of these one-on-one encounters not by inundating your manager and other executives with unsolicited messages and progress reports but by occasionally requesting a dedicated meeting in which you touch base, discuss your performance, confirm how you and your team are performing and assisting the organization’s mission and adopt any needed course corrections. The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) management strategy, popularized in Gino Wickman’s bestselling Traction book, refers to such meetings as 5-5-5 conversations.
The EOS model states these meetings help keep team members connected and assist maintaining accountability. While EOS recommends 5-5-5 meetings occur between managers and direct reports, the principle remains effective when team members occasionally meet with other leaders within their department, too. Just be sure your manager recommends and supports such initiatives first to ensure your efforts at building awareness of your role, maintaining relationships and fine-tuning your professional focus aren’t seen as circumventing your direct manager’s authority and guidance.
Have Other Questions About Working Remotely?
Louisville Geek’s technology professionals understand the advantages and occasional liabilities of working remotely. During the pandemic we adjusted to having to work remotely like everyone else. As the pandemic subsided, our organization’s worked to retain remote work’s many advantages, while also addressing potential drawbacks. Our organization also gained additional experience assisting clients across a variety of industries needing to do the same, so direct any questions our way knowing we’re familiar with remote work, hybrid environments and practices and technologies for making the most from new ways of working.
You can reach Louisville Geek by calling 502-897-7577. Alternatively, you can send an email to [email protected].