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7 Tips to Having an Effective Remote Work Experience

by Hannah Rose | Feb 21, 2020 12:00:00 PM

Editor’s Note: As the world of business continues to evolve at an increasingly rapid pace, one often overlooked area for growth-focused companies is the changing nature of the workforce. Millenials are now entering their prime working years and are increasingly taking on executive positions. Generation Z is quickly becoming a force and the nature of work is changing. To help companies maintain alignment and reduce friction we’re adding to the focus of The Demand Creator Blog. Today’s blog is written by our Marketing Manager, Hannah Rose. She and others will be sharing their perspectives on growth, working and making their mark.

remote-workAbout a year ago, I was in the market for a full-time position right out of college. As exciting as that may sound, I was very stressed about it. You see, I was in a very different situation than most people; I didn’t have a lot of flexibility in terms of what I could do since my husband is in the military and I would be moving every few years. I wanted a marketing position, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be a fit for any job I applied for because I would have to tell them I’d be able to stick around for a little while and then have to pick up and move every couple of years. What good was I to any business with that logic? No one would want me. I had accepted my fate as not having a good job. Then I came across Imagine. Granted I’m not here with Imagine solely because of my need for flexibility; I’m here for a lot more than that. 

Remote work is up-and-coming as a highly searched term for job hunters, no doubt due to the benefits it offers. While I’m a huge fan of remote work, it isn’t easy. It takes a lot to make sure you’re excelling in your own space which is why it isn’t for everyone. It can be super-fun, flexible and exactly what you need, but it can also feel intimidating and lonely at times. It really comes down to what you decide to make out of it. 

Remote work is especially difficult for someone who is just entering the business world. The nature of college creates a structure and nudges (or forces) you into a flow. It’s rare that you don’t know what you need to do next, and when you’re in that position you just reach out to one of your classmates to find out.

If you’re currently in the market for a new job, you might want to consider working remotely. And for those of you who currently are remote workers, I’m sure you’ve struggled with getting adjusted at some point. 

So, if it isn’t as easy as it seems, why would you choose to work remotely?  

Why Choose Remote Work?

For Employees

There are a lot of reasons why you would choose to work remotely. It’s way more flexible because, in most cases, you can set up whatever hours work for you. You can also leave and come back when you need to. The biggest thing is as long as you’re getting your work done, you’re able to have that flexibility to go in early, leave late, etc. This helps if you have kids and need to be on a different schedule, and it helps with traveling because you can take it with you. That’s exactly what I did when I went on trips with my family. I just worked from wherever I was for a few days. So it’s great if you’re a traveler at heart but also want to work. And as a disclaimer, I am by no means saying solely take a remote position for these reasons, but it’s a good option if that’s your lifestyle. 

The other reason you might choose to work remotely is if that’s just how you function best. I’ve had in-office positions where people would go seclude themselves because they couldn’t get anything done if they were around others. Sometimes that environment just doesn’t work for some people and they need to have their own zen place to sit down and crank shit out. And that’s okay!

For Businesses

Having remote positions or being completely remote (like Imagine) is another major decision for a company, too. I felt like it was important to add in a few reasons that companies would choose to offer these positions because it’s beneficial to both the employee and the business. 

Hiring remote workers allows you to gain expertise in employees that you would otherwise never consider because they aren't local . Having access to people all over the world who don’t need to move allows you to expand your opportunities. You can gain knowledgeable people that you couldn’t get just looking in your immediate area. 

It’s also great for building work relationships and gaining insight into how your company can help them fill any gaps. 

The last point I’ll bring up is that companies with these positions choose to have them because that’s how employees work best -- how they thrive. Our company is completely remote, and we have employees all around the United States working their tails off to get great results. It’s how we work best.  

If you are planning to work remotely or are currently in a position and need an extra boost to get the most out of it, here are some items to help you succeed and have an effective remote experience.

Tips to Help You Succeed in the Remote Atmosphere

1. Office Space.

There are two main things about your office space:

  • Make sure it’s a separate space else 
  • Make it a place that will motivate you to get your work done - the optimal place where you’ll succeed

I say this because for the first 7 months of working remotely, I was working a foot away from my bed. While that sounds great, it was actually pretty terrible. Not only was it cramped because of the small room with lots of furniture (not the point), it was a place that I didn’t enjoy being at all after work. Because every time I’d go into my room, all I could think about was sitting down to get some more work done. By the end of the day, I just wanted out of that space! I felt trapped because I had to then go back in there to sleep -- and the cycle would continue every single day. Don’t do that to yourself. Mentally, it will do you more harm than good in the long run. 

Instead, have your office in an area of your living space that you can either close off at the end of the day or an out-of-the-way place  that you can keep separate. 

Fill your office and make it fun. Make it yours and make it something that excites you. If you walk into a room that you don’t find joy in, then your mood will be set to, “When can I finish and get out of here?” And if you don’t have space to do either of those things, go to a coffee shop, a bookstore, or somewhere that will allow you to be the most productive version of yourself. 

2. Breaks!

Just because you’re working remotely does not mean that you will be working a straight 8 hours every day. That’s just plain torture on your brain and thought process. Even at a normal office, do you really sit for all 8 hours and only work? Never (or at least I hope not). You usually get up and walk around to get water, use the bathroom, eat lunch, take a walk, etc. The list goes on. 

Take those breaks! It can be easy to forget especially when you’re in the groove of getting something done, but it’s necessary. Get up and stretch, get some fresh air, and then come back and get back to work. It’s important to get into some sort of habit where you work for a period of time then take a break and so on and so forth until the end of the day. Finding a balance that works for you will save you from going insane looking at a computer screen or two all day.

3. Get Dressed.

I know what you’re thinking…”I work from home, so can’t I just get up and work in my PJs all day?” While you can certainly do that, I would suggest otherwise. Granted you don’t usually have to dress super-professionally when you work from home, but at least dress in something that’s more than your PJs. Getting up and getting dressed as if you were going into an actual office of people will help you to become motivated for the day. This is a great way to start your day and get you in the mindset to get work done rather than the urge to crawl back into bed.

4. Build Relationships. 

It can be a lot harder to get to know your coworkers through being remote, but it isn’t impossible. Take the time and put in the effort to get to know those you work with by reaching out through Slack or Zoom or whatever communication apps your company utilizes. By taking this simple step, you’ll not only make friends, you’ll also feel more comfortable talking in team meetings and in general later on.

If your company meets in person at all throughout the year for a get-together or office party, go to those events. Talk with people face-to-face about more than just work. Get to really know the people you work with while you can and have fun. Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. 

5. Set Work Hours. 

This small task will actually make a big difference in how you perform throughout the day and gives you a time frame to know when you have to get work done. Most people will work from 9-5, but that could be different if you’re in different time zones. For instance when I was living in Virginia I would work 9-5 ET, but now that I’m in Texas I work from 8-4 CT so that I’m still up with everyone on Eastern Time. It’s all up to you on when you get to work, but it’s helpful to keep up with the cadence of the business, and it’s consistent. Having consistency in your work life will help you to get into “work mode” for the day and will help you to focus and be more productive overall. 

6. Time Management.

If you don’t have this skill, learn it. It’s important in the remote world that you know how to prioritize your tasks so you can get the crucial items done first. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but if you aren’t careful with your time management, you’ll look at the clock in the morning. Then, when you look again you’ll have 10 minutes left of your day and you then have to push whatever you didn’t get done to the following day. You don’t want to push something that’s a high priority over to the following day if you don’t have to. If you don’t have this skill, it can be difficult to get things done on a day-to-day basis. 

Even if you don’t have much to accomplish for the day, just knock it out when you get in. Otherwise you’ll take all day to get it done. It’s a true phenomenon, too. It’s called Parkinson’s Law which states that the amount of time that one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task. Try to fight this, even if it is difficult, and get your work done so you can get ahead and start on other tasks that may not be as high priority. 

7. When you are out of the office, you are OUT. OF. THE. OFFICE!

This tip is probably the most important and crucial. If you are taking time off, you are off. I know this can be a difficult thing to do, especially if you’re like me and enjoy your work so much you’d spend all day doing it. But here’s the thing, if you know that you’re prone to get on and stay connected at all possible times, then you’ll feel the burn-out pretty quickly.

When you take time off, disconnect from everything work-wise and make sure you recharge, however you choose to do so. Maybe take a small vacation to the beach, go on a cruise, go visit family, do something relaxing, the list goes on. You’re helping your body and mental health by taking time off, and on top of it, you’re coming back to the company with fresh eyes and a positive mindset because you’ll be fully charged and ready to go again. 

If you don’t take that time, you’ll forever feel like you’re on low battery with the power-saving mode turned on, just trying to hold on for the remaining charge until you can’t take it and drain fully. Then you’re in a much more complicated situation that you don’t want to deal with. 

Working remotely is all about what you make of it. If you choose to take this type of position or are already in a remote position, hopefully these tips will or have helped you to become your most productive, motivated self. It can be a hard transition to tackle, but if you do it correctly, you’ll be effective and successful.