Remote work: How to make it work for you

Remote work: How to make it work for you
Even before the global pandemic hit us, the trend toward remote work was already on the rise. Two kinds of remote workers fueled this trend: regular employees whose companies allow them to work from home several times a week, and individuals who strike out on their own as freelancers. In 2017, only 4.1% of New Jerseyans were full-time remote workers. But with the pandemic in full swing, the majority of us are now forced to work from home. If we’ll be working remotely for quite some time, we’ll need to make the most out of it.

Do you have what it takes to succeed at remote work?

An anthropologist studied more than four dozen of the most extreme kinds of remote workers. Called digital nomads, these people travel freely, sometimes from country to country, because their jobs are done all online. The study revealed that most of them enjoyed their newfound freedom at the start. But once the honeymoon period ended, many realized that the nomad lifestyle wasn’t for them. The problem wasn’t the lack of a regular work location but the lack of human interaction. Only few individuals who truly thrive on isolation become successful digital nomads. But most of us need some form of social interaction on a physical, not just virtual, level. After all, we are social beings with social needs. We suffer and become less productive if we lack any of the following: we need physical social interaction
  • Sense of community – We want to belong to a group of people, whether it’s family, friends, or even workmates.
  • Face-to-face interaction – We interact better with verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Co-presence – This is a fancy socio-anthropologist term for our need to be physically around other people.
Before COVID-19, individuals could engage in remote work and still satisfy their social needs by going to coworking spaces. These provide people a conducive place to work while being surrounded by their “tribe” of fellow remote workers. But with the pandemic and the resulting quarantines, most of us have no option but to work from home. To make the most of the situation, you should follow these smart tips:

#1 Recreate features of coworking spaces at home

Whether you’re a digital nomad or just a regular joe, you need to create a space at home that’s conducive for work. That means mimicking the best features of coworking spaces, such as:
  • A quiet work zone – You need a quiet space at home where you can focus on work without distractions like the television or children playing. Should there be more than one household member who’s also working from home, then you can create a common work area that’s separate from where you take coffee breaks or eat lunch.
  • A separate area for calls – If you have a common work area, you’ll also need a separate place to make phone or video calls so you don’t disturb others.
  • A space, preferably outdoors, to take a break – A change of environment gives you a breather and helps clear your mind. Go for a short walk around the block, or take your coffee break on the balcony. If taking a stroll on your street isn’t allowed, or you don’t have a yard or garden, then move around your house/apartment/condo.

#2 Practice self-discipline

In the office, your supervisors and peers can easily notice if you’re working or not. But at home, no one checks up on you. That’s why you need to take better control of your time and effort.
  • Structure your day – Doing things is easier when they’re a habit. Come up with and stick to a routine. And when you make your daily to-do list, include your non-work activities into your schedule as well.
  • Establish your rituals – Like habits, rituals mentally prepare you for work. If you’re used to traveling to the office, you can recreate that by taking a 10-minute walk around your place before hunkering down for the day. And for less distractions, switch off your phones and devices, or store them away before you do your tasks.
  • Invest in yourself – Buy a comfortable chair and spacious desk for yourself. Invest in high-grade hardware and software (unless they are issued by your employer).
  • Make time for the legal mandatories – For regular staff, the employers take care of them. But for freelancers, they need to figure out their insurance, taxes, and other legal requirements.

#3 Keep a clear boundary between work and home

With work being done at home, the line between the two is blurring. Be wary of making yourself available 24/7. Resist the temptation to schedule work on your downtime. Switch off office notifications when you’re done for the day, and avoid looking at your inbox. It’s important to separate work and home life if you don’t want to burn out. You and your staff need to work smart to get through this pandemic. A major challenge is to connect your employees who are scattered all over Hanover, Morristown, Madison, and beyond. You need to partner with a trusted managed IT services provider like Online Computers. Our experts will make sure your business will run smoothly even with everyone working from home. We’ll manage your network 24/7, keeping it secure and operational. You take care of your business, we take care of your technology. Contact us today.

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