Let’s face it — in a society that’s greatly dependent on taking full advantage of the technology we’ve invented, it’s no wonder so many jobs come with the benefit of working remotely. The internet is a pretty incredible tool, and some companies are using it to their advantage by cutting the cost of overhead and offering the option of telecommuting to help keep their employees happy as can be.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, 3.7 million employees work from home at least half the time, which means you are not alone. With a growing virtual workplace spanning the globe, we could all use a little motivational help every now and again. Having managers and colleagues in different locations and no expectation to physically show up to an office every day means working remotely certainly demands laser focus and the ability to do your job well without much direction. Yes, it’s a great luxury to be able to work from anywhere and take liberties with your schedule, but that can also come with a lack of accountability, and sometimes it’s difficult to stay on track and keep on task.
We spoke with Tricia Sciortino, president of an all-remote workforce at eaHELP, to get her take on how you can manage those “I’ll get to it later” tendencies. Here are the top four working from home productivity hacks, according to Sciortino.
1. Designate quiet spaces and times specifically for working
Plopping on the couch with your computer on your lap and the TV on “in the background” might sound appealing, especially if it’s one of those days when you’re tired, don’t feel like working, or it’s a cold, dreary day outside, but this move will only kill any chance at productivity. “It can be as basic as carving out a corner of the dining room and arranging childcare swaps with friends and neighbors, but make sure you’ve got time and space to devote to your work,” Sciortino said. “Trying to work in your kitchen while surrounded by your family is a guaranteed recipe for crazy!”
2. Set “office hours” for yourself
Even if your office is your home, giving yourself the rigidity of implementing a set schedule of working hours will be greatly beneficial. It’s all too easy to run out in the afternoon to take care of a few errands, telling yourself you’ll finish work later that night, but this habit could easily turn into a slippery slope, and nobody likes to fall behind. “Agree with yourself and your team when your day begins and ends,” Sciortino said. “It can be very easy to put off starting your day, but once you do, the feeling of accomplishment starts rolling in and you can’t stop! I schedule my first meetings at 9 a.m. to kick-start my day and get me on a roll.”
3. Leverage technology tools to your advantage
Like I said, technology is an incredible thing we’re lucky enough to have at our fingertips, so make the most of it. “These tools can pour jet fuel on your productivity and connectedness with your team,” Sciortino said. “We use Basecamp religiously for tracking projects and progress, and also use Slack for exchanging quick pieces of information and cutting down on the volume of emails we exchange. We also use various task management apps like Asana, ToDoist, Wunderlist, and others.”
4. Have meetings
This might seem like the antithesis of a remote position, but it actually makes quite a bit of sense, as it’s a quick and effective way to solve a problem or build a process. “It’s certainly faster than wading through a back-and-forth email chain between three people over three days,” Sciortino suggests. “That one-hour meeting can accomplish much more than days of emails, and accomplish it much more efficiently.”