By Meredith Parker, account associate
With non-profit staff stretching around the world and employees desiring more flexibility, working remotely is on the rise.
The option for key team members to work at home when needed can significantly increase availability and avoid interruptions in service during times such as inclement weather. Worried about the flu? Encourage staff who are feeling ill to stay home rather than risk spreading their illness. Life happens, but working remotely even for a couple hours during the day while a sick child is napping can make a big difference in ensuring critical tasks are covered.
I have been occasionally working remotely for six months and I love having this option. Not only does it makes it easier to get to doctor’s appointments or professional development sessions with minimal downtime, but it is refreshing for me to get a change of space and work outside of the office.
In spite of these benefits, it is important to remember that this type of work requires the employment of focus and self-discipline. Below you can find strategies for creating work mode outside of the office:
1. Define your work routine and stick to it
Most people keep consistent hours at the office, arriving and leaving around the same time every day. Coworkers have a general idea of each other’s availability because they are used to this office rhythm. This means that when you are not working in the typical office environment, you need to communicate to your colleagues when you are available. One easy way to do this is keeping the hours you work remotely consistent with the hours you are typically in the office. You can also create a shared calendar for your team on Outlook or Gmail, if you do not already have one. On days that I work remotely, I keep my calendar blocked off with any professional or personal appointments so my coworkers know when I am free to respond to any questions. Also, tell your coworkers what type of communication works best for you when you are not in the office, whether that is email, text message, phone call, or Slack. This could vary based on the type of message being communicated and/or personal preferences. Clueing everyone in to your workflow will ensure that you are all able to complete your work responsibilities with minimal interruption.
2. Create a working space at home OR go to a different location
I started experimenting with different locations in my house for a work space. Through this, I have learned that the best environment for me is the living room, seated on the couch with the blinds open to let natural light beam in and low-key music playing in the background for white noise.
Another option is leaving the house. As an extrovert, I feel energized when I am surrounded by other people. I will work from the sofa for a while and then, if I start to feel lonely or restless, I will go to a local coffee shop with incredible almond lattes and excellent music to finish out my day. Choose a work space that works best for your personality and work style.
Of course, the options for finding a workspace in the public or private spheres are limitless: home offices, parks, coworking spaces, libraries, book stores, etc. The most important thing is to select a space with the intention of working productively there.
3. Schedule breaks with activities
At the office, I find that there are regular interruptions to my workflow: coworkers asking questions, bathroom breaks, hallway conversations and meetings. When I am working in an environment outside of the office, I am more intensely focused because I do not have to worry about these types of distractions at all. That being said, it can be mentally exhausting to work intensely for long periods of time, so it is important for me to schedule regular breaks for myself as needed. I typically will work for 1.5 or 2 hours and then take a break. This could mean that I switch to a different task to give my brain a rest, take a webinar or study something inspiring that relates to my work. Other options could be to take a walk outside, go to the gym, run a quick errand, make lunch, read, write or do a small chore. When I return to the task at hand, I feel refreshed and re-energized.
If you follow these steps, you will be able to harness brain power and productivity outside of the office and gain some extra time to complete personal tasks.
What are your strategies for working remotely? Feel free to comment below.