Articles about remote working tips overrun the internet these days. Remote work is all the rage, but for some, it’s hard to find the required self-discipline. Since RED has been a remote team since our inception in 2001, we thought we’d take a survey of our experienced remote team and get their best remote work tips.
What do you do that makes working remotely work for you? What helps you stay concentrated? What helps you stay connected? What advice would you give other people working from home?
Emma: I need a comfortable chair and desk, and a distraction-free space. The chair can make it or break it for me. Good, bright lighting, too. I find if I have to strain to see, or try to work under flickering fluorescent lighting, I get tired fast. I like bright natural light or a soft but bright lamp. I love working from home – I’m personally too easily distracted when out and around other people and activity or noise.
To keep the team connected, we use Slack throughout the day to check in for quick questions or to chat with each other. And I have a check-in call with everyone periodically to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Ian: Fast internet speed is essential for me when working remotely. I also like to take breaks with my family on the weekends, out in the province. A healthy work-life balance is important.
Max: I LOVE working in coffee shops. The library is a great place, too. When the weather’s nice I try to work outside. One thing I like about frequenting the same place is that you sometimes get to know the employees that work there. You end up with a little community which can be awesome. I feel like I’m more productive when I’m not at home because I don’t have as many distractions.
This one’s a little out there, but I also like working at bars or music venues once in a while. It can be a great place to squeeze in end of the day stuff. You get some strange looks, but I think it’s a great idea because:
1) You’re already at a place you would be going to later, and
2) If you don’t feel like socializing you can still do something you enjoy.
I agree with the soft, but bright lamps and natural light, too. I hate fluorescent lighting!
Ryan: One tip that comes to mind is if you are working from home where there is a high likelihood of distractions from family or roommates, then it’s very helpful to set up an office in a room with a door you can close. Working from home blurs the line between work and life outside of work, so having a physical barrier that can better define that line for yourself and for others is helpful.
Another tip is to stay off of social media sites like Facebook during your regular working hours because they can become a huge distraction easily for many people.
Also, take breaks away from the screen to walk and breathe fresh air. It can do wonders for your mental and physical well-being. For me, one of the benefits of working remotely is the freedom to take a break when I need to take a break.
Ben: I can’t work from home. I’m too easily distracted, and I don’t like being alone. When I moved, I intentionally got rid of my desk so that my home space is completely separate from work. That said, not all co-working spaces are equal, either. I’ve been to ones that have low-speed internet connections or poor lighting – so good internet and good lighting are two things I really look for.
A good set-up is important for me, too. A bad chair, desk, or small monitor just doesn’t work when you’re there for 8 hours a day. I think sometimes, especially when you’re just starting to work remotely, people forgot to consider those things. WeWork is great for me because I have people to connect with, a good set-up, coffee, good internet, and community events. It’s definitely an investment, but I would be much less productive without it.
Alisa: I’ve been working remotely for 15 years now. I’m pretty sure I do all the things “they” say not to do. I didn’t have separate childcare when my kids were small; I worked with them underfoot or arranged my schedule to work when they were sleeping or when my husband was home to take care of them. People say this is a huge no-no because it’s too much of a distraction, but for me, it was a primary benefit of being able to work from home.
I do have a separate home office where I work; I don’t work anywhere else. And like Emma, I like bright light when I’m working. It helps me focus better.
You could say my work and home life are blurred because I take breaks throughout the day to do my laundry, or dishes, or take the kids to sports, or have a coffee break with a friend, or run errands. But to me, those breaks are another advantage of working from home and setting my own hours, and those breaks help me focus better on work when I sit down at my desk, because I don’t have to worry that things aren’t getting done.
Some people swear by getting dressed “to the shoes,” but I don’t wear shoes when I’m working (only moccasins when it’s cold).