By Heather Ebert
After moving from our office of nine years in August, the RLF team spent the past few months working from a collaborative work space, coffee shops and our homes as we awaited our new workspace built and designed to foster collaboration and position the company in the millennial work environment. During this time, we had to make sure we maintained a high level of performance and delivered quality work for our clients, while also pursing new business. At times our working arrangement presented challenges, but we put our heads together and navigated the testy waters. From this experience, I have identified six tips to help manage and combat the distractions and occasional instability that may arise from working remotely.
Maintain a schedule
Creating and sticking to a daily schedule will help you maintain your productivity while working remotely. Working from home or a coffee shop can be distracting, so you should make a conscious effort to be fully engaged in your work. This means starting and ending work at the same times, creating and maintaining a calendar and utilizing to-do lists. Time management is essential to successfully working remotely, and the simplest way to ensure this is to keep a running list of current and upcoming projects and update their status daily as needed. In addition, you should consistently check and update your calendar and you should begin every work day with a to-do list. These are approaches you should take while working in an office, but especially when working remotely, to ensure you don’t miss a beat.
Set up a workspace
It’s smart to make your remote work environment feel and look as much like an office as possible. At home, sit at a desk or dedicate space at a kitchen counter where you can set your computer, lay your files out and sit upright. Sitting in a computer or a dining room chair helps avoid slouching, which from experience, could ultimately lead to napping. Whatever you do, stay away from your bed! When that daily fit of drowsiness hits and you’re working from home, the tempting comfort of your bed is dangerously close. Another tip to make your space as work-friendly as possible is to prop up or hang a bulletin board to help keep important items top-of-mind.
Make sure that you can print
Reading from a computer screen can be overwhelming when it’s time to edit, revise or review documents. In PR, proofing is crucial and so it’s important to have hard copies of news releases, collateral, etc. to review thoroughly for copy errors, design consistencies, print quality and more. If printing is essential to your daily tasks, be sure to set up your remote working space to print or at least identify somewhere nearby where you can quickly access a printer.
Going from working in an office to working remotely may mean going from working next to people to working alone. This change in work environment seems to allot more freedom, but don’t take advantage. You have to set aside work hours when working remotely just as you would if you were in the office with other people watching you. You shouldn’t take more time than usual to handle personal matters or other tasks you wouldn’t normally address during business hours. Be accountable for your time and your performance and hold yourself to the same standards you and others would if you were working in an office.
Since working remotely can pose distractions, it is important to make it a priority to be productive. Research has shown that working in small bursts of time increases productivity, so you should try this. Set a timer for 30 minutes, take a 5-10 minutes break and then continue working on the task from before or start on another item on your to-do list. The key here is to be sure to limit your break time so that you don’t get carried away with non-work related or low-priority tasks.
Hold weekly staff meetings
One of the biggest challenges of working remotely with a team is staying in the loop, and the need to stay up-to-date and engaged is imperative. One way to make sure to do so is to host weekly staff meetings. You can easily set up a virtual meeting, a conference call or takeover a table in a local coffee shop. You might also consider renting a conference room at a collaborative work space or community business center. Meeting regularly not only helps to keep work on track but it can also help to cut down on mistakes and keep morale high.
Using these six tips, you can make the best out of a remote work arrangement and ensure that you stay on track and maintain your productivity and performance.
By Heather Ebert