In a 2020 CEO Panel Survey, PwC asked 699 company leaders to rank their long-term business model changes post-COVID-19 in level of importance. Fifteen percent reported that their number-one priority was to increase the number of employees who work remotely. Another 26 percent ranked this as a second or third priority goal, right after digitizing core business operations and adding digital products and services.
This is great news for soon-to-be and recent college grads who are interested in finding a virtual position. Yet, not going to a dedicated workspace every day doesn’t come without a few challenges. How can you make the most of your work-from-anywhere office and be the most successful virtual employee possible? Here are a few tips on working remotely.
1. Create a dedicated workspace.
One of the top benefits of working remotely in a virtual position is that you get to decide where you do your work. For many people, home is a natural choice. Others prefer to invest in a dedicated workspace outside the home, such as renting co-working space at a local facility.
Both options are good choices. Working from home means that you never have to worry about any type of commute, you don’t have to pack your lunch, and you get to take breaks in your favorite recliner. Renting a coworking space may be more enticing for someone with young children at home, those who want to fully separate home from work, and individuals who like to be around others, even if you’re all engrossed in your own jobs.
The most important thing is that you have a dedicated workspace. Whether a home office or some other place, having a specific place to complete your assigned tasks helps your brain shift into workday mode the moment you enter this space. It also allows it to shut off once you leave, creating greater work-life balance.
2. Set a Weekly Schedule.
While some employers do require that remote staff be available at specific times of day for meetings or to handle client-related issues, others don’t. If you are in the second category, you may find that if you don’t establish some type of schedule, it becomes more difficult to get all of your work done.
If your employer allows you to be flexible with your schedule, sit down at the beginning of the week and figure out what hours you will work each day. To make this tip for working remotely more effective, write your hours on your calendar. This increases the odds that you’ll stick to them.
When deciding your schedule, don’t forget to factor in lunchtimes and breaks. The more you plan your workdays, the easier it becomes to get all of your hours in, and all of your work completed on time.
3. Reduce Your Distractions.
One of the biggest challenges in working remotely is remembering that you are, in fact, working. You aren’t checking your personal email or social media accounts, answering personal phone calls that can wait until you’re done working, or watching your favorite series on Netflix. Though one distraction now and then is to be expected, the more you keep these to a minimum, the greater your efficiency (and you’ll make fewer errors!).
Here are a few tips for working remotely that can help you reduce your distractions:
- Close all open windows on your computer that don’t have to do with your job so you aren’t tempted to click on them. This includes your non-work email and social media accounts.
- Turn off instant notifications on your smartphone if you use it during your workday. If you don’t use your phone, keep it in another room and only check it when on dedicated breaks.
- Let your family and friends know your work schedule and ask that they not contact you during those times. If you have a home office space, tell them that whenever the door is closed, you are working and not to be disrupted.
4. Find ways to be social.
Ask most virtual workers what they miss most about “going to work” and they’ll probably say something about not being around other people. Even though work is work, it also has a social component. When you work remotely, that component disappears.
That’s why it is helpful to proactively find ways to satisfy your need to interact with others when working virtually. You can do this by way of holding video meetings with co-workers and staff, allowing you to have some type of face-to-face communication. Another option is to communicate via phone versus by email only. At least then you can have an actual conversation and hear their voice.
If your position doesn’t involve this type of one-on-one contact, prioritize being social in your personal life by regularly engaging with family and friends. This tip on working remotely will help satisfy your need for human contact. It also makes being a virtual employee feel a little less lonely, increasing your satisfaction within your career as well as within your new remote position.