How to impressively conquer the world of remote work
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Are you still spending your days and nights working on your kitchen table, or have you set up an established home office by now? In 2020, many of us permanently moved to a remote work setting. But while remote work appears to be a pandemic phenomenon, working from home, or “WFH,” has been around for much longer. The concept originated in the 1970s when rising gas prices caused by the 1973 OPEC oil embargo made commuting a problem for many workers.
Once personal computers, cell phones, the Internet, the Cloud and other technologies began to explode in the 2000s, working from home expanded greatly, as workers had better access to resources at home. New equal employment mandates such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accelerated this emerging trend significantly.
Still, nothing compared to the boom in remote work since the pandemic started in 2020. Since the “new normal” seems to work for many companies, the trend of working from home might be here to stay. And what’s not to love?
Why we love remote work
After all, people love working from home for a good reason. We can’t blame them! Home is where one’s heart is, and the feeling of having every comfort available while getting a job done is more than satisfying. There are unlimited benefits to WFH, one being the freedom to live anywhere in the world. The flexibility allows those seeking dual employment to hold two jobs thanks to easier scheduling. For military spouses and others who have to move around regularly, it’s their solution for keeping a steady job.
And it doesn’t just benefit the employees – organizations also see positive results from allowing remote work. They find their employees are happier and thus more productive and engaged in their responsibilities. It cuts down on overhead, as the company doesn’t need as much office space, and it also accounts for other related reduced costs. Offering remote work expands the talent pool, as the company doesn’t have to stick with local candidates and now has a world of talented opportunities.
Getting the WFH formula right
Looking at the advantages, working from home almost sounds too good to be true – for employers and employees alike. But you need to realize that this concept only works if done correctly. If not, WFH can cause one to fall into many unproductive pitfalls. But organizations and individuals can do their part to ensure that working remotely becomes a success.
We explain the particular art and science to remote work to make this concept work smoothly and effectively for everyone.
Top tips for companies to make remote work a success:
- Embrace asynchronous communication. Not everyone will be on the same schedule or time zone, so adhering to synchronous working schedules shouldn’t be part of the WFH strategy. Instead, create communication channels where employees can share their input on their own time. This can be a Slack channel, a shared Google doc or a customized company portal. Encourage employees to ask questions, leave comments and respond at the first opportunity. One enormous benefit to this asynchronous method of working is its informality. Employees may be likelier to share early-stage ideas as it is less intimidating.
- Create a working handbook. This “living” document will serve as a continually growing guide for new and old employees. Beyond standard text guidelines, the handbook should be a cornucopia of media to help employees stay in the loop, from videos of events to transcripts of meetings and more. It’s a way for everyone to stay connected to what’s happening in the company on their own time.
- Encourage virtual socialization. One of the biggest deterrents to working remotely is the lack of interaction. Yet, companies can do plenty of things to ensure employee engagement. “Virtual watercoolers” are popup meetings scheduled for the sole purpose of chatting and can serve as a much-needed mental break for employees during the day. Companies can also pair newer employees with more tenured employees as mentors who connect regularly. Some organizations will even create one-time events, parties or retreats in a centralized location for employees to meet in person. These in-person meets also serve as a fantastic way for companies to reward the employees for their hard work.
There are also ways that individuals can promote healthy WFH habits. Here are our top tips for employees to make remote work a success:
- Proactively communicate. OVER-communicate. Find out your co-workers’ preferences of when and how they would like to communicate with you. Have a constant conversation with your managers where you express your priorities and discuss collaborations. When in doubt, communicate it out!
- Be completely transparent. Expect the same in return. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. The more clarification you ask for and receive, the easier it will be to do your job from anywhere. Ensure your expectations and priorities within your role are clear to everyone on the team.
- Set your office hours. And stick to them! Whether you’re an early bird or night owl, setting regular hours for yourself instead of just winging it ensures structure to your day. It will also help your team members know when to contact you. Make sure to also set time for breaks as you would if you were in the office – it’s important to take that time to relax your brain. Use the breaks to add some movement or outdoor time to your day. This will help keep you from getting sedentary.
- Keep it professional at home. Although it’s tempting to lounge around in pajamas all day, dressing for your job makes a difference in your overall vibe and productivity. Put on something you’d leave the house in and work from a designated office space in your home. If you don’t have much space, do your best to create a work-only area – even a specific work chair will do the trick to give you that mental shift of being “at work.” Don’t get lost in household chores, as enticing it may be when they are in such close proximity – throwing in a quick round of laundry is very different than a full bathroom scrub. Set boundaries of how much time and energy you devote to anything household related to staying on task.
- Keep the right tools in your tool belt. Without an in-person manager, it’s up to you to stay focused and prioritized. Find time management apps to guide you. Create task lists for yourself and stay on top of them. Setting alarms on your phone is an easy way to manage how much time you are spending on any given task.
Master the art and science of remote work today and tomorrow
The art of working from home is an ever-changing science and will most likely only be enhanced in the future by new technologies. Remote work isn’t just the present, it’s our future, and we continue developing ideas to be more successful at it.
Yet, it’s essential not to expect to fall into a successful remote work routine immediately – it takes time and practice to get your workflow right.
How much experience do you have with remote work? What is one WFH rule that you have set for yourself? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.