This shift in our understanding of the effectiveness of working from home has caused businesses to reimagine what working life can actually look like post-COVID. In fact, the companies that don’t become more flexible about working from home may lose employees to companies that are open to a hybrid of in-person and remote working.
A study conducted by Buffer, a software company, found that 97.6% of workers in 2021 reported they would like to work remotely, for at least some of the time, for the rest of their career. Although not everyone will get to continue working remotely, CNBC reported that employers expect approximately 2 in 5 employees will continue to work remotely throughout 2021.
Although in the pandemic, “remote work” was synonymous with “working from home” since there was nowhere else to go, remote work post-COVID can mean a wide range of things. In fact, remote work is becoming an umbrella term for anyone who doesn’t work in an office Monday-Friday. But there are a variety of options for working remotely that aren’t in the home five days a week. These alternatives include:
- People who work from coworking spaces or cafes
- People who work remotely, but on a flexible schedule
- People who work remotely, and also come to the office from time to time
Although the flexible schedule, ability to work anywhere and the lack of daily commuting makes working remotely incredibly appealing, the adjustment from working in an office and collaborating with colleagues in-person to performing these tasks digitally can be a challenging transition.
For one, there are often multiple forms of communication you need to keep up with, including Zoom, email and message boards, such as Slack. You may also have online documents where you collaborate with your colleagues, such as Google Docs. A key aspect of remote work, therefore, is staying organized with all the various aspects of digital communication and tools you will encounter to perform your job.
Tips and tools for approaching remote work
Even if you have been working remotely for the past year due to the pandemic, you may only recently be viewing this way of working as a permanent change. Therefore, it may now be time to reintroduce real routine and structure back into your life, even if it looks a little different than it would in an office. In order to help you begin to imagine what remote work could look like as a long-term sustainable option, we have come up with four useful strategies you can implement when working at home.
Develop a routine
Something many of us took for granted when working in an office pre-pandemic, was the built-in routine and structure. You had to get up at the same time, get dressed, commute to work, plan dinner ahead of time, etc. in order to fit in everything you needed to get done in a given day. Without this built-in routine, it can be challenging to remain as productive as you once were.
By creating your own routine, especially in the morning, you can set better boundaries and work more efficiently. For instance, try not to wake up just minutes before work so that you can mentally prepare for your day before you open your computer. Maybe you meditate for 10 minutes, make a cup of tea, go on a walk to grab coffee, read the newspaper, do some meal-prep, write a to-do list each morning. Whatever it is, do it consistently and start each morning with intention.
It can also help to get dressed in the morning as if you were going to work and then change out of your work clothes once your workday is over to create those mental differences in your mind of when your home is a place of work and when it is a place to relax.
Separate your work space from the rest of your home
Before many of us saw work from home as a permanent change in our lives, we were working on couches and avoiding investing in a monitor and true work space. However, now that work from home may become a long-term option, ensuring you have a space you associate solely with work and that provides as quiet and organized a setting as possible, will help you mentally separate your home and work life. Even if you don’t have a home office, keeping an organized workspace with the proper monitors, printers, sound-canceling headphones, desk, comfortable chair, etc. makes a big difference. Try to work in the same space everyday so you associate that space and only that space with work in your home. Additionally, play around with what type of work environment works best for you. Maybe you want to sit on a medicine ball or work at a standing desk. There are many different types of home offices and finding one that makes you feel most comfortable is important.
Use apps to help manage your time
There are a variety of apps available that will lock you out of your phone and personal computer for a certain amount of time in a day or will schedule work time and breaks throughout the day so you can stay on a productive schedule and avoid distractions as much as possible. The most popular system is to work for 30 minutes and then take a five minute break. You can download a timer app, such as the Be Focused app, to help structure your work schedule in short intervals. Don’t forget that it’s important to take breaks! Additionally, some of the most popular apps to block you out of certain apps and websites on your personal devices include Stay Focused, Help Me Focus and Freedom.
Take calls on a walk (when possible)
Since remote work requires digital tools for every aspect of one’s job, screen burnout can occur rather easily where your eyes and brain become exhausted from staring at a screen all day. When possible, try taking some of your calls on a walk so you can get outside and give your eyes a break. If you can’t take your calls on a walk, still try to get outside at least once in the middle of the day even if it’s just for 10 minutes.