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Remote Work is the New Norm, Here’s How to Do it Well

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Remote Work is the New Norm, Here’s How to Do it Well

As many of us experienced, at the beginning of the pandemic employers and employees weren’t prepared to go fully remote. But after the initial shock, and thanks to technology, remote work not only became feasible, but also benefited companies and their teams. Turns out remote work wasn’t so scary after all.

And the changes are not only related to the work from home option. Today, more employers are embracing flexible schedules for their remote teams leading to an overall feeling of satisfaction.

A recent post by Jack Steward for the site, findstack.com, compiles several major research groups’ 2022 remote work statistics. Taken as a whole, these metrics paint a picture of our new work-from-home norm and offer insights into what’s to come for remote work.

To briefly summarize Steward’s findings, 16% of companies in the world are 100% remote while 77% of remote workers claim that they are more productive through a working from home methodology. The main reason why people choose to work remotely is because it allows them to have a better work-life balance. I’ll give some pointers below on how you can find this balance.

Moreover, the average annual income of remote workers is $4,000 higher than other workers. This is perhaps one reason why 74% of employees say that having the option to work remotely would make them less likely to leave a company.

While 85% of managers believe that teams with remote workers is becoming the new norm, it’s important to note that 44% of companies don’t allow remote work. My conversations with colleagues and recent articles confirm that many employers are calling people back into the office as the pandemic subsides. There are also challenges with this new way of working. Some of the most common reported are: not being able to unplug after work (22%), feeling lonely (19%), and communication (17%).

According to an Owl Labs report, 16% of companies in the world are 100% remote. While that is still a relatively low percentage, it reminds us that companies can and do operate 100% remotely with no office or headquarters whatsoever. We know, too, that remote work is steadily trending up, indicating that this tendency will continue in the coming years. The chart below, adapted from the findstack.com post, underscores the growth of remote work.

Remote Work Growth Trends

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While 85% of managers believe that teams with remote workers is becoming the new norm, it’s important to note that 44% of companies don’t allow remote work. My conversations with colleagues and recent articles also confirm that many employers are calling people back into the office as the pandemic subsides.

Working from home has many advantages, but, in my experience, it also brings challenges. Some of the most common reported in the sources mentioned above are: not being able to unplug after work (22%), feeling lonely (19%), and communication (17%).

I mention these findings and statistics to show that as remote work is increasingly becoming the norm, it’s more important than ever that we learn how to work well from home (or wherever your new “office” may be). Here are my personal tips and some of the best I’ve found through my own exploration of expert advice to help you increase your efficiency when working from home.

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Set up a dedicated work area

If you’re going to spend a lot of time at home, make sure you have a designated space where you can focus.. This might mean setting up a desk in a spare bedroom or using a corner of the kitchen table as your workspace. Choose what best works for you.

Maintain a regular schedule

Studies show that working remotely is most effective when you keep a regular schedule, especially outside of the office. A good routine structures your day and helps you stay motivated. I recommend starting your day as you would if you worked in an office: Get up early, get dressed in work-appropriate clothes, and turn on do-not-disturb to avoid online distractions once you sit down to work. Whether you just started working at home or you’ve been doing it for months, if you’re struggling with productivity, take a few weeks to find the best rhythm for your day. Then make a schedule and stick to it.

Take breaks

It might seem counterintuitive, but if you find yourself getting overwhelmed at work during the day, take a break. Short rest periods allow you to recharge and refocus. I like to take walks outside, listen to music, or something else entirely unrelated to work.

In addition to breaks throughout the day, give yourself permission to have downtime. For example, if you have to work extra hours on a project, take some extra free time later that day or that week(end) to compensate.

Stay organized

It can be easy to lose focus when working remotely. To stay focused, make sure you have everything you need to do your job. Keep your workspace clean and clutter free so you can easily see what needs to be done next. The same rules apply for your digital workspace: set up your computer with the right tools so you can quickly access files and documents.

And if it helps, write out an agenda for the day and put it in view to help you stay on track.

Manage your time wisely

Prioritize your tasks and set aside time each day to work on projects that will benefit your business and professional development. This means planning out your week ahead, scheduling meetings, and reviewing your goals each week. If you find yourself distracted by other tasks, try using a timer to limit how much time you spend on each activity.

It’s also important to set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish on a daily basis. When we cut out the time spent commuting, packing lunch, or picking out the right office-appropriate outfit, it can feel like we have tons of extra time in our day and should be able to get a lot more done. While working from home does often increase productivity, we can still only do so much in a day.

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Create Your own Healthy Work Culture

To avoid some of the pitfalls of working from home, it’s key to create a healthy remote work culture. Harvard Business Review recommends meeting up with colleagues and peers to talk shop when possible so you don’t become isolated.

Set healthy boundaries around when you will and won’t be offline, remembering to communicate when you are or are not available to your colleagues and bosses.

Lastly, stay positive and be clear about what your motivations are so that you can keep your at-home work culture positive and healthy. This will lead you to a better performance overall. It is very important for you to focus on what you’ve accomplished at the end of each day to keep yourself motivated. Take a moment to write down what you did, share it with a friend or colleague, or whatever else you need to mark the accomplishment. Be sure to celebrate your wins!

To sum up, as technology advances and an increasing number of companies realize the benefits of allowing employees to work away from the office it seems undeniable that remote work is here to stay. Try these tips to make your experience working remotely more efficient, positive, and conducive to your professional development.

Photos by Bojitha Wimalasiri, Surface and Bojitha Wimalasiri

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