Remote Work 101: Top 5 Tips

Dogs and comfortable chairs are necessities for me.

In the age of the open work space, studies consistently show that remote workers are happier and more productive than their office peers. The technology is in place that makes remote work possible but how do you get started and what is everyday life like for a remote worker? After you finish reading this article, check out this book for more ideas.

Find a remote job

"How did you find your remote job?" was the number one question I received when I started my current remote job. It depends what type of position you're looking for but,,,,, and have a variety of remote and/or flexible work options. Check with your friends who work remotely because they may be aware of additional resources or open positions in their network.

Create an office or dedicated work space

For the first week or two of working from home, I made the dining room table my work space. Big mistake: It's easy to get distracted when you're looking around at dirty dishes in the sink or a messy sofa, or maybe bills you need to pay. Instead, I created a home office, which is the smallest room in our house but has excellent light with its three windows and built-in bookshelves. It also has views of the Adirondacks, which always give me a creative boost. I have a comfortable armchair in the corner that I sit in for Skype video calls or to read documents. The most important tip for working from home is to have a dedicated work space. It doesn't have to be fancy and could even be a desk in the corner, but the trick is that when you leave the space, you leave work.

Stick to a routine

As a remote worker, you may have a typical 9-5 or you may design your own hours. Again, it'll depend on what you do. Either way, you'll probably have a bit more control over some aspects of your schedule because you aren't commuting but don't expect to suddenly find additional extra hours in your day. Time management is even more important when you're working remotely because you don't have someone looking over your shoulder. Even when I was consulting and could set my own hours, I still woke up early, made my coffee, and started working by 8 or 9. When I began my current role, that made the transition back to more normal workday hours a breeze. In order for me to stay motivated, a routine is vital. Know yourself and how you work best.

Be video-ready

Many people have the idea that remote workers work from their beds or sofas in their pajamas. While some people may, I don't recommend it (see #2). When you're working remotely, chances are you're relying on technology like Skype or Google Hangouts for conference calls. My rule of thumb is to always assume every call will be video, even though 95% of mine are not. I also feel like it' s the start of my work day when I've showered, dressed, had my coffee, and I'm ready for the day. 

Don't be a hermit, but also don't overdo it

When I first started working remotely, I was so worried I'd get lonely or feel isolated that I made plans almost every day or night of the week. I went to seminars, had lunches, coffee and walking dates, and people over for drinks in the evening. While it's important to see people, don't overdo it so you're constantly exhausted. I have much better balance now! And if you're worried you'll miss working with people? You'll be chatting and interacting with people every day even if you work from home, and for my position, I go to an office every six to eight weeks. There are also a number of co-working spaces that provide excellent networking and collaboration opportunities for remote workers, or you can always work from a local coffee shop.

Occasionally, I will post on remote life so check back for more updates and tips. The next installment will focus on remote working myths.
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