When the 2020 Covid-19 global pandemic first appeared on our collective radar, many businesses shut down their offices, forcing employees to work from home for the very first time.
Transitioning to a New Way to Work
As news reports, blogs, and social media have demonstrated, this transition wasn’t easy for everyone. People who had never worked outside of the strict, yet social, environment of a traditional office were finding themselves confused, disorganized, and either hyperproductive, or not productive at all.
It turns out that the physical location in which you do your work is just as important as the job itself. Still, that doesn’t mean that you can’t successfully work from nearly anywhere your life takes you. As more and more businesses are deciding whether or not they’ll ask workers to come back to the office-based cubicle lifestyle, you may wonder how to create a good remote working environment. Here are some tips to make it possible for you to work wherever you roam.
Figure Out What Your Remote Working Environment Needs
You may think that, as long as you have your laptop, phone and a strong enough internet signal, you’re set. For some people, that may be correct. But one of the number one reasons people lose productivity is because things aren’t “just right”.
If you’ve ever had to sit at a coworker’s desk for a period of time, you’ll be familiar with this feeling. The chair is the wrong height. The roll of tape isn’t in the right spot. The mouse feels clunky and unfamiliar in your hand. Instead of buckling down to work on a project, you find yourself using any excuse to walk away from the work space.
Therefore, when setting up your remote working environment, take some extra time before or after the work day to figure out what your space really needs. Maybe you need a box of facial tissue to help with late afternoon allergy attacks. Perhaps proximity to the coffee maker is best for you. Try out different chairs. If you like to have a doodle pad and pen nearby in case genius strikes while you’re unprepared, grab one.
You don’t necessarily need a fancy desk, or elaborate organization system, unless that’s your absolute ideal. You just need to have everything within hand’s reach, where you can find it, when you need it.
Establish Your Space
One common problem when it comes to remote working spaces is distractions. Whether you’re working from home, a hotel room, or a camper van in the middle of a field, there are bound to be loads of distractions. Children, pets, television, other people trying to work, even an interesting bird in a nearby tree can be enough to get our minds off track, under the right circumstances.
Your space is key when it comes to having focus, but there are many more things to consider than distractions. For example, you may think you have the perfect room in your house to keep focused throughout the day, but there’s a very weak internet signal there. You may find just the right place for your internet signal, only to discover the neighbor’s dog barks continuously at 3pm every day.
Having the right number of electric outlets to power all of your equipment is another consideration, along with whether the space gets very hot or very cold at different times of day.
As much as you’d love to plop down your laptop in any old place and get to work, this may or may not be completely feasible. However, with a few modifications, you can adapt.
First, consider an internet signal booster. This device can ensure that your signal is clear throughout your home so that your productivity isn’t hampered. In fact, these tools are very common amongst those who work on the road, making them a great investment for anyone who might find themselves taking a meeting from a roadside stop, or in a remote camping location.
But not every solution requires a monetary investment. You can get creative with the existing space and signal in your home. Curtains, sheets, and screens can be used to partition off a section of a room to create a quiet work environment where you can’t be bothered by others in your house. This may feel a little bit like creating a blanket fort, but there’s something very soothing and purposeful about blocking off a specific area where work, and only work, happens.
Read also: Healthy Eating While Working From Home
Connect with Coworkers
You won’t understand how much of your work experience is based on your day-to-day, in person interactions with your coworkers until that option is no longer available. From catching up on each other’s lives during chance encounters throughout the day, to stopping by a coworker’s desk to chat about a current project, many ideas and loads of information are shared face-to-face in an office environment.
When you’re working remotely, these impromptu discussions are much harder to schedule. There are no more “chance encounters”; instead, you’ll need to call, email, instant message, or text your coworkers to get a piece of their time, which means you’re simply hoping that they’ll see your message and respond promptly. This can be incredibly frustrating.
However, there are ways to work around this. Try sticking to the schedule you had before you left the office. If you typically arrived at your previous desk at 8am, set up your laptop and be ready to get started at 8am, regardless of where you’re physically located. If you and a coworker stepped out to get a coffee at 10am and caught up on news and project progress, keep that going.
Send them a daily meeting reminder, or email so that you can continue to have this valuable exchange.
And don’t forget to socialize with your coworkers. Just as much networking and bonding occurs outside of the office as within, so be sure to coordinate virtual “happy hours” with your team.
You may find yourself feeling distant and disconnected in your remote working environment, so taking a half an hour each week or every few weeks will remind you that you’re all in this together, regardless of whether you’re working behind a curtain in your living room, or a fully equipped, specially-designated office space.
Read also: Key aspects to High-Performing Teams
Conclusion + Where to Find Remote Jobs
Working remotely can be an exciting – yet difficult – transition. Take your time to figure out what you need first, not only in terms of supplies and setting, but space and solitude. Try sitting (or standing!) in various spots throughout your current location to see what is not only comfortable, but free of multiple distractions. And don’t neglect your schedule and coworkers. Keeping these factors as “normal” as possible will absolutely help with the overall transition.
Lastly, remember that any major change is going to take time to get used to. Give yourself a few weeks to settle into your remote working environment. If it still isn’t working, then back to the drawing board. Remember that many people are working in unconventional settings, from a chair in the basement to an outdoor porch swing, so don’t be afraid to try something unusual if you feel it may benefit you and your working style.
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