Remote working: The guide you need

An obvious benefit of remote work is the flexibility it offers in your lifestyle. Over the last 5 years, at the end of each year, people’s interest in the idea of remote work spiked (new year, new me, new job?) and there has been a growing interest in remote work in general.

If you are looking to switch to a remote working profile, you probably have quite a few questions.

We’ve laid down a detailed guide for you, a remote worker/aspirant, on how to spend your day to reap maximum benefits of a remote working profile without succumbing to its pitfalls.

In a nutshell, here’s what you’ll get to know in this guide:
1. Why should you consider remote work?
2. Where should you work from?
3. What type of environment should you create at home?
4. Diet to power you through the day
5. How and why should you socialise?
6. Type of music you should listen to
7. How to schedule your day to be productive
8. Useful tools for remote workers

Let’s get to it.

1. Why should you consider remote work


Information source

If you’re worried you might not land a good job if you work remotely, here’s a list of awesome companies that hire remote workers. 

You can also browse through “We Work Remotely”, the world’s largest remote work community, for your dream job.

If you’re the kind of person who needs a traditional office environment to feel motivated to reach your goals for the day, then maybe remote working is not the thing for you.

If you do have the discipline to work every day and stick to a schedule that makes you the most productive, here are several reasons why remote working is nothing but the best:

1. Alone time = More productivity: You can steer clear of frivolous office conversations and focus on getting things done.

2. Bid goodbye to commute costs: You save time and money.

3. All the world’s a stage, and every place can be your office: Sitting in the same cubicle day in and day out can become monotonous. Remote working can open new doors for you, quite literally.

4. More time with kids: It’s a great option for a working parent. You can schedule your work around your kids’ routines instead of putting time spent with them on a backseat.

5. Power naps are an option and also not awkward: We all need fifteen to twenty minutes a day to shut everything out and rejuvenate. Napping improves productivity significantly. You can read more on it here.

Remote working eventually leads to better mental and physical health if you plan your day right, use ergonomic furniture to work, and are able to prioritise your tasks to enjoy a healthy social/family life.

Which brings us to the next question.

2. Where should you work from?

Unless you’re traveling and working out of Airbnbs or at a beach, your regular daily options include working from a cafe, a co-working space or working from home. Each option has its pros and cons.

Cafe

1. A cafe provides a welcome change from working from home everyday and can get your creative juices flowing.

2. You might bump into people you know and socialise for a while.

3. A lot of people at a cafe are there to work, that provides a motivation for you to get your work done and not waste time.

The downside to working out of cafes too regularly is that all those latte bills can add up to a significant amount. Also, stepping out, or hitting the washroom, for a while and leaving your belongings unattended might induce some stress.

Co-working space

Most co-working spaces have flexible plans so you can work out of there on alternate days if you like the idea of being around people while working.

Not only are they low-maintenance, they also provide motivation and are good spaces to network with other people and get to know different job profiles.

You can find a co-working space in your area on coworker.com.

Working from home

Working from home is possibly the best part to remote working.
1. You can ditch the office formals and work in your PJs.
2. It saves time and money.
3. You can customise your environment.

Working from home has its cons. You need willpower and discipline to stick to a schedule, you might get bored sometimes and your productivity might take a hit from all the solitude.

You can ensure better productivity by creating the right environment at home.

3. What type of environment should you create at home?

Working from home allows you to make a work space that’s comfortable and efficient. But you also need to steer clear of distractions.

An important tip is to avoid keeping your work-station in your bedroom. Your sleep area should be away from your productive area for 2 reasons:
1. Your work could seep into your sleep.
2. You could get lazy and switch to your bed to work. 2 hours later, you wake up having slept for 2 hours.

Once you have decided a space for your “mini office”, keep the following things in mind:
1. Have natural lighting: Exposure to natural light has several health benefits including improving productivity. Read about it here.

2. A desk with ample space: Enough for your laptop, reading materials and a study lamp. Have a look at the best home desks of 2019.

3. An ergonomic chair: If you want to avoid serious health issues, invest in a decent ergonomic chair. Have a look at the best ones of 2019. You are going to spend roughly a third of your life on that chair, it is worth the investment.

4. A standing desk: If you want to ditch a sedentary lifestyle altogether, you can invest in a standing desk too. Wirecutter offers an in-depth review of the best ones.

5. Keep your desk clean: An untidy desk is known to cause stress. Make cleaning a habit. Having a large, empty space to work enhances your productivity.

4. Diet to power you through the day

Staying at home could mean two things for your diet plan:
1. You munch something or the other whenever you get the chance.
2. You don’t pay attention to your health and end up starving yourself.

Just about everything we eat is converted to glucose, which powers our brain to focus. Starting your work on an empty stomach can negatively affect your productivity.

Foods like pasta and bread and options like coffee – while they give a burst of energy, they also lead to a sudden slump when their effect wears off. You’ll end up drained and much less productive.

Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, contain vital nutrients to give you a dopamine kick. Dopamine helps you stay happy, motivated and curious throughout the day.

If you have trouble limiting your calorie intake, here’s a great tip to achieve your goal.

You should ensure you set time aside to fix your lunch, have healthy options stocked up and have a bottle of water at your table at all times (keep calm and stay hydrated!).

Here’s a list of really good breakfast, lunch and snack ideas while you work from home.

If you can’t avoid those sugar-laden munchies, just stop stocking them! Out of sight, out of mind.

5. How and why should you socialise?

Don’t allow yourself to become completely isolated in order to accomplish your work goals. 

According to studies, socialising is very important for a better mental and physical health.

1. Going to co-working spaces is one good way to socialise and network at the same time.

2. Schedule calls with your friends/family once you’re done with your high priority tasks.

3. Have virtual water cooler moments with your colleagues by engaging in discussion with them through slack or by having video/phone calls with them.

4. You can use sites like workfrom.co to find remote workers in your area and connect with them.

6. Type of music you should listen to

While we all have our taste in music, some types are known to enhance productivity at work.

1. Low-Fidelity music: or Lo-Fi as it’s generally known, is known to activate the frontal lobe of the listener’s brain, enabling a good focus.

2. Classical music: A study published in Science Daily found that baroque music increased concentration.

3. Natural sounds: According to another study published in Science Daily, sounds like flowing water improve cognitive abilities.

7. How to schedule your day to be productive

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it” – Richard Whately

Make sure you have an early start to your day

Contrary to popular belief, mornings may not be the most productive time of the day for you. According to this article by productivity report:

1. The first hour in the morning is not best for tasks that need 100% brain focus. Activities like journaling, meditation, meal preps etc. should be taken up.

2. We tend to self-interrupt in the morning. Self interruption is when external factors don’t cause distractions, but you interrupt your schedule yourself. Eg. By checking Facebook. To avoid this, use techniques like the Pomodoro technique to stick to a routine.

3. Most people have an increased capacity to learn in the morning so schedule your rote tasks for later in the day.

Make it difficult for yourself to access social media during your work hours

1. Log out of all social media accounts
2. Turn off your notifications for all social media apps
3. Use apps to keep your social media distraction in check if you are too used to fidgeting with your phone

And if all else fails, try to turn off your phone and keep it in another room for long periods of time.

Read about the remote working version of Maslow’s hierarchy here.

8. Useful tools for remote workers

As a remote worker, you’ll need several tools for effective collaboration with your team and for others to be able to track your performance too. Areas where tools might be needed:
1. Team chat
2. Video chat and meetings
3. Project management
4. Productivity
5. Dev and Design
6. Collab on cloud storage
7. Quick feedback

You can find an extensive and useful list of the best apps under each of these categories here.

Conclusion

A number of remote workers on Twitter had their own tips to share about the success of remote working. You can read their tips on how to create the perfect remote working environment here.

If you liked the guide, please share it with your friends. 😊

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