It takes a lot of dedication to work remotely successfully.  You need to be very motivated and committed to the job, not just the idea of remote working.  There are certain skills, tools, and best practices that can be implemented to make working remotely actually work.  Working remotely certainly isn’t meant for everyone.  It takes the right people to build a successful remote team, but it can have a number of advantages, which we outlined in a previous post.  In this post, we’re going to discuss some tips for getting the most out of working remotely.

Tips for working remotely

Create a Structure

Structure is important in any effort to be a productive, efficient worker.  In many ways, you should treat working remotely as if you’re going to the office.  Set a schedule, wake up, shower, and get dressed just like you would if you’re going to the office.  Set goals for each day so you can track your success and productivity.  Dedicate a space with a good atmosphere to work.  A noisy background or poor internet connection can make working remotely very difficult or even impossible.

Set Boundaries

It’s important to separate work from home, especially when working remotely.  If you have kids at home, setting rules and expectations with them will help your workday go smoother and ensure you’re able to focus when you need to focus on work.  It’s important to take breaks and get out of the house too.  Just as you go for coffee runs at the office, take a little walk around the block – a little fresh air and exercise can go a long way.

Be Organized

As a remote worker, if you’re not organized, you’re going to have a hard time.  Without a colleague or boss next to you, you’ll need to prioritize your tasks and stay focused.  Use a checklist so you know what’s on your plate and don’t let things fall the through the cracks.  Keep close tabs on your calendar.  You need to build trust as a remote worker, and if you’re missing meetings or always late, that’s not going to look good.

Communicate

Communication is important in any work environment, but when you’re working remotely, strong communication skills are crucial to being successful.  When in doubt, over-communicate.  Write effective emails with useful subject lines and keep them brief.  A good email gets the message across quickly.  Be as transparent as possible in your communication – it will avoid the need to address the message again in the future.  Set and manage expectations and find the right communication tools for your team.  Be aware of time zones, you might be working with someone on the other side of the world.  Communicate time zones clearly and book meetings at reasonable times.

Have a backup plan

Working remotely is putting a tremendous amount of trust in technology.  But sometimes technology fails us.  You might wake up one day to no internet connection.  Have a backup plan; locate a coffee shop or library or have the ability to tether from your phone when the internet goes down.  The more prepared you are for the unknowns the better.

Try new Things

If something isn’t working, change it, try something new.  Be creative with how you approach working remotely.  Maybe the home office is too dull… spice it up with a new plant or other decorations.  Try working from a cafe from time to time – this can often provide a fresh perspective on the work day and be a good change of pace.

Use the Right Tools for remote working

Find the right tools that work for you and your team.  There’s an abundance of tools out there to improve communication, collaboration, productivity, and organization.  Here are some that might help:

Trello – Trello is a simple tool that can be used for everything from simple to-do lists to entire managing projects.

Wunderlist – Wunderlist makes it easy to create shared to-do lists.

UberConference – UberConference is a light-weight conference call and screen-sharing solution.

Slack – Slack is the latest and greatest in real-time team communication.  It’s plug-and-play integrations allow you to connect many other tools to it.  Slack takes “virtual office” to a whole new level.

Noisli – Noisli helps boost productivity by allowing you to mix different sounds to create your perfect work environment.

Workfrom – Workfrom is a guide to the best cafes, coffee shops, and bars for getting work done around the world.

We all work a little differently and every team encounters different challenges and solutions to their problems.  Talk to other remote workers for advice, share your own advice, and keep trying new things.  If you’re passionate enough about your job and focus on strong communication, your remote working experience should go pretty seamlessly.

For more information, tips, and best practices on working remotely, check out Remote: Office Not Required, a book by the founders of Basecamp.