4 Ways to Succeed at Remote Working

We’re always talking about the bene­fits of hiring remote workers for your busi­ness. Employees are certainly in agree­ment with the advan­tages of working from home, as they have better control over their acti­vi­ties. A Stan­ford Univer­sity study found that attri­tion rates amongst home workers dropped by 50%, while Harvard Busi­ness Review published an article on the results of a similar study, which found that home workers completed 13.5% more calls than office staff. It is thought that the flexi­bi­lity of being at home if you have kids and other commit­ments outside of work, makes life easier for remote workers, and those very commit­ments inspire them to do more, quicker. Another contri­bu­ting factor to the incre­ased produc­ti­vity, could be the quieter envi­ron­ment in which to make calls and do work that demands silence.

Results from various studies clearly indi­cate that both compa­nies and their employees benefit from the arrangement:

  • 52% of employees said that they were less likely to take time off.
  • The Harvard Busi­ness Review post above mentioned how Chinese travel company, Ctrip, esti­mated a saving of $1,900 per employee over a 9‑month period of remote working.
  • Employees are happier, since they get more sleep, eat healt­hier, and get more exercise.
  • Happy employees are produc­tive employees, which bene­fits the company.

Technology and the Remote Worker

It’s no secret that tech­no­logy plays a crucial role in incre­a­sing flexi­bi­lity of commu­ni­ca­tions and working logistics between the employer and the remote worker.

According to surveys by the Depart­ment of Busi­ness (UK), 59% of compa­nies now have remote workers. According to Andy Lake, editor and mana­ging director of Flexi­bi­lity, the reason this figure is not higher, is because employers still make the mistake of compa­ring remote work with tradi­tional office-based work, and the fact that employees are readily avail­able at the office. However, that assump­tion is void in light of modern commu­ni­ca­tion tools that make employees as avail­able as ever. Addi­tio­nally, tools such as screen sharing and instant messaging make people more acces­sible and make meetings shorter and more productive.

Today, we look at some tips on how remote workers can make the most of their fortu­nate position.

1. Separate Home from Office

While this is the oldest sugges­tion in ‘Working From Home 101’, we’re taking it a step further. Instead of just closing the door to distrac­tions, we recom­mend that you do that on your PC too. In a previous post, we spoke about the fact that employees use their own tech­no­logy to perform work-related tasks. While this bene­fits the employer and, in most cases, incre­ases produc­ti­vity, it can be a distrac­tion for employees who are distracted with their personal apps, etc.

We recom­mend that you sign out of personal appli­ca­tions when working e.g. sign out of your personal email account, any personal IM programs, etc. It’s also best to keep your work email sepa­rate from your personal email. How can you expect to not get distracted when your friends are emai­ling you with plans for the weekend? If you have a lot of personal distrac­tions on your computer, one sugges­tion is to create two local user accounts on your PC, one for work, and one for your personal compu­ting needs. Select work-related logos, images and banners for your desktop display on the work account. When you’re working, only use the work account, and block your personal social media usage during work hours.

Some remote workers even use two comple­tely diffe­rent PCs.

2. Work Off-Site With the On-Site Team

Distrac­tion-free as it is, some remote workers do miss the office. One good way for you to stay in the loop is to do a daily online meeting. Using Mikogo, ever­yone can log in and share a screen to discuss the day’s tasks or achie­ve­ments and gene­rally discuss projects. Showing each other what you’re working on or discus­sing work tasks for the day enables you to feel like a part of the team.

3. Get Your IT Department to Divert Internal Calls

Between instant messaging and online meetings, there really isn’t any need for phone calls, but if your office phone system uses short internal exten­sions, ask the IT depart­ment to set one up that diverts to your cell phone. This enables cowor­kers to get in touch with you without having to hunt for your number every time, and you will seem more readily avail­able. Alter­na­tively, if you’re a true online worker who is fami­liar with concur­r­ently using multiple diffe­rent web appli­ca­tions, utilize VoIP calls so your colleagues can reach you at your remote desk.

4. Put Pants On

In a world where some employers still fear the profes­sional decline of the company’s image when they allow employees to work remo­tely, it is important to set their minds at ease. Take the respon­si­bi­lity of work-at-home arran­ge­ments seriously and dress the part – no sitting around in your boxers or pyjamas.

While working from home comes with certain privi­leges that should empower you, some of them may be counter-intui­tive and working in your pyjamas is one of them. Why? Because your actions affect your subcon­scious, which affects your produc­ti­vity. There­fore, when you need a produc­tive, crea­tive and successful day, you should dress for success, rather than like a slob.

If you want to succeed at remote working, you need to make holistic decisions that will affect your psyche posi­tively. Working from home means that you have to be self-moti­vated and driven, because if you’re lucky, your boss won’t be micro­ma­na­ging you and you will be able to improve your work-life balance.

Discus­sion: Do you have more tips for remote worker success? We’d love to read about your expe­ri­ences in comments below.

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