Working from Home 101: How to Work Remote Successfully
Working from home has a lot of benefits — that’s why the percentage of remote workers is growing year over year, with almost half of global businesses offering some sort of work-from-home option. Many employees appreciate the flexibility and comfort that remote work provides.
But adjusting to working from home if you’re used to being in an office environment isn’t always a walk in the park. Feeling disconnected from their coworkers, some people struggle to maintain their usual productivity level and communicate efficiently with their company.
If you’re wondering how to adjust to working from home, look no further. These tips for working remotely will help you be successful and productive as you learn how to work from home.
Benefits of Working from Home
Remote work certainly has its perks. Here are a few of the top benefits of working from home.
One huge benefit of working from home is that your schedule can be a little more flexible. Want to meet up with a friend on your lunch hour? Need a walk around the block to clear your head?
Want to sneak in a workout during the time you would have been commuting? In most cases, you’re free to go for it!
The flexibility of working from home especially appeals to people who have children (or even just pets). If you’re needed for anything, you’re already there.
Working from home can save you a lot of money. Think about all the small expenses you incur on a daily basis when going into the office. Gas for your car, public transportation, parking, tolls, lunch, coffee, and more all add up big-time.
Add in childcare and business clothes and the cost rises even higher. In fact, the Telework Research Network says that a telecommuter can save between $2,000 and $7,000 a year by working from home!
That’s a lot of money, and that’s why the affordability of remote work is one of its biggest draws.
When you work remotely, you can create your ideal work environment. At home, you control the room temperature, noise level, and lighting situation — you won’t have to deal with the distractions of a typical office.
The freedom to make these small choices will make a big difference in the quality and quantity of work you can get done.
Your productivity may even extend past office work. The extra pockets of time in your day can help you get caught up on tasks around the house, too. 10 minutes of laundry or 15 minutes of pulling weeds will make a dent in your to-do list and give your brain a much-needed break.
How to Transition to Working from Home
Adjusting to working from home can be difficult if you’re accustomed to being in office. Here are a few tips for working remotely that can help you make the transition with ease.
Establish a Daily Routine
Sticking to a daily routine is an essential step to succeed while working from home. Having a consistent routine will help you be more productive and feel stable.
An “ideal” daily routine will look different for everybody. You may choose to work out at 7:00 every morning, schedule a block of work from 9-12, and then eat lunch with your family. Someone else might find they’re more productive if they utilize the Pomodoro technique and take frequent breaks.
The exact details of your daily routine don’t really matter. The important thing is that you simply have one in place.
Dress For Success
Just because you can wear pajamas all day doesn’t mean you should. Putting on nice clothes just to sit on your couch might feel like a waste of time, but in reality, getting dressed in work clothes puts you in the right mindset to be productive.
You probably associate your lounge-wear with relaxing on the couch, but you associate the business casual clothes in your closet with meetings and checking off to-dos. Even putting on jeans and a nice shirt that’s not a T-shirt is more helpful than staying in the same clothes you wore to bed.
In addition, getting ready in the morning like you normally would ensure that you are ready to hop on a video chat or take a last-minute meeting at any time.
Create A Designated Work Area
Setting aside a specific place to do your work each day will help you be more productive. This also helps you set physical boundaries, communicating to your spouse, children, or roommate that you aren’t available when you’re working. And when you’re done working at the end of the day, you can leave the room and shut the door — leaving any work stress at the office.
How can you set up the perfect space? Find a desk and a comfy chair. Then make space for everything you need — whether that’s a printer, headphones, or a surge protector — and some things you want, too (think a family photo, scented candle, or colorful stress ball). This can help you create an area that’s both functional and fun — somewhere that you look forward to going each morning.
Work Normal Hours
You might be tempted to sleep in and start working at lunchtime, or leave your tasks until late at night. As much as possible, however, it’s important to continue working during normal business even when at home. This will create consistency in your routine and between communication with your supervisors, co-workers, and clients.
Sticking to a traditional 9:00-5:00 also ensures that your work-life balance can stay where it needs to be. In the evenings, shut off your computer and don’t look at your emails or any work-related messages until the next morning. This will help you truly relax and de-stress.
Studies have shown that taking breaks can improve both your productivity and your ability to focus. They help you feel more motivated when you return to a challenging task, too. Try taking a ten-minute break every two hours.
You can use your breaks to be:
- Physically active: Take a walk around the block or do a quick living room yoga session.
- Connect with other people: Chat on the phone with a friend or play a game with your kids.
- Be Productive Outside of Work: Vacuum the house or meal-prep for dinner.
The idea is simply to give your brain and body a few minutes off.
Productivity Tips For Working From Home
Productivity is a big concern for many remote workers, who don’t always get the collaborative experience of in-office employees.
Utilize the “Touch It Once” Rule
The “touch it once” rule is an effective productivity tip for working from home.
The rule works like this: As soon as you first touch something (think opening an email, or starting a new task), you finish it right then and there.
If you can’t fully complete the task at that moment, that’s okay, but figure out the next active thing you can do to keep making progress on the task. This rule is beneficial because it helps you focus. If you bounce from task to task all day long, your mind is never fully available to focus on your current task.
The touch it once rule eliminates this issue and ensures you’ll be highly focused.
Multitasking is a tempting option. It becomes even more appealing when you’re working from home. Simultaneously sitting in on a conference call, folding laundry, and mentally starting your next project might make you feel productive.
But actually, it’s just the opposite: Multitasking reduces your productivity by as much as 40%!
Research suggests that constant multitasking is bad for your brain. And it can definitely have a detriment on the quality of your work. As hard as it may be, force yourself to focus on just one task at a time.
Chances are, you’ll finish the job more quickly and can then move on to other to-do’s.
Working remotely comes with a unique set of potential distractions and interruptions. Whether it’s your child calling your name, the mailman ringing the doorbell, or your phone chiming with a text, it’s all too easy to give in to these interruptions instead of focusing on the task at hand.
Minimize these disruptions by silencing your phone, getting some noise-canceling headphones, and keeping your kids and/or pets busy with a new game or toy. This is also where it comes in handy to have a designated workspace.
Communicate to your family or roommates that when you’re “at work,” you need to focus on work, and you can talk to them when you’re done.
Determine Your Most Productive Time
What time of day do you get your best work done? Figuring this out can help you work more efficiently. If you have kids, you might find that you’re most focused during their afternoon nap.
If you aren’t sure when you’re most productive, track your work a journal for two weeks. Note what you accomplished every morning and afternoon, and how easy or hard the work felt. This can help you see patterns and hone in on your most productive time of day.
Hint: If you’re tuned in for 60-90 minutes, that’s a good time of the day.
Start With Your Hardest Task First
You might be tempted to put off your hardest piece of work until the end of the day or even the day it’s due. But don’t!
At that rate, you’ll just procrastinate — and when you do finally get it done, the job won’t reflect your best work. What’s more, if you complete the hardest job first, you’ll feel more confident in your abilities.
And by comparison, your easy tasks will seem like even more of a breeze.
Communication Tips For Working From Home
Communication with your coworkers becomes a lot more difficult when you aren’t physically side-by-side. But although it’s difficult, it becomes more important, too. Here are a few tips to communicate well while working remotely.
Share Your Working Hours
Once you’ve figured out what time of day you’re most productive and what your work-from-home schedule is going to look like, share this information with your colleagues and your boss.
A quick email saying, “I’ll be working from 8:00 AM EST to 4:00 PM EST every day this week” can prevent potential confusion about unanswered emails or calls.
Set Your Status
Many chat tools, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zapier, allowing you to set a status. You can update this status periodically to notify people when you’ll be eating lunch, taking a break, or in a meeting.
That way, any member of your team can see at a glance what you’re doing right then and whether it’s a good time to contact you.
Recommend Daily Team Check-Ins
A brief daily video call can help your team stay connected while working remotely. Suggest that your team starts each day with a 15-minute check-in.
During this time, you can recap the day before and outline priorities for the coming workday. This is also a collaborative space where your team can discuss projects and bounce around ideas.
Utilize Video Chat As Much As Possible
Phone calls are nice. But there’s something about face-to-face meetings that can’t be replaced. When your coworkers are scattered and working from home, it’s important to still cultivate personal connection opportunities such as video calls.
Periodic video chats can help your team stay strong and connected. Meetings also tend to be more productive when you can see everyone face-to-face.
Don’t Let Distance Be An Excuse
When you aren’t seeing your coworkers in person, it can be tempting to put less work into communication. Don’t make this mistake! You should still be expending the same amount of effort, if not more, to communicate with your team.
Don’t worry about bugging or annoying them — when it comes to the workplace, over-communication is impossible.
If you are worried about bothering a fellow coworker too frequently, try their ideal communication style such as email, phone call, instant message, and adapt to their preference.
Goal-Setting Tips For Working From Home
One of the best tips for successfully working from home is to set goals. Here’s how to create goals you’ll be motivated to reach.
Write Down Your Plan
Write out the goals you’d like to achieve while working from home so you can see them in black-and-white.
Writing your goals down makes them seem more real. They’re no longer just an idea in your head. Instead, they’re right in front of you on the paper.
Science backs this up: People who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them.
Use a real pen and paper instead of jotting your goals into a Google doc or the Notes app on your phone. This can make your goals seem more important. Writing down these goals will motivate the actions you take next.
Set Small Goals
There’s nothing wrong with aiming for the sky. But when you set smaller, more realistic goals, you’re more likely to actually achieve them.
And when you achieve those goals, you’ll feel confident in your abilities and ready to set more. Create goals that you’ll be able to realistically achieve.
Manageable goals are far more likely to actually be completed.
The power of planning ahead can change your remote work in big ways, helping you be more productive and focused.
Plan on both a weekly and a daily level so you know your big-picture projects for the week and the individual tasks you’ll have to complete every day. Some people like to create an hour-by-hour schedule: “10:00 A.M. team meeting, 11:00 A.M. edit video, 12:00 P.M. lunch.”
Others find it easier to simply write out what they have to do each day and then pick tasks off the list at random until they’re all complete. Whatever works best for you, planning ahead can ensure you don’t drop any balls.
Set Time Limits
Setting time limits is one of the principles of smart goals. For every goal you set, attach a deadline. This time limit can be daily, weekly, or more long-term, depending on the nature of the goal. When you add a deadline to your goals, you’ll be more motivated to actually get them done.
No more “I’ll do that one day” — instead, you’ll do it by the time you specified.
Working from home allows you to have a more flexible schedule. That can be a good thing — but sometimes, it’s a bad thing, too.
Your friends, family, and neighbors may feel as if they have access to you 24/7. They might think that since you’re at home all day, you have plenty of time to walk their dog, pick up their groceries, or meet their child at the bus stop.
Being willing to help out your neighbors is great. But it won’t help you get your work done as quickly and efficiently. Set boundaries with your friends and family so they know when you’re available and when you’re not.
For example, you could say, “I’m sorry, I have to work until 4:00 P.M. that day. But anytime after four, I’d be happy to come let your dog out.” By setting these boundaries, you can get your work done and help out others at the same time.
Mental Health Tips For Working From Home
When it’s not done correctly, remote work can lead to isolation and burnout. One study discovered that 82% of remote tech workers in the U.S. feel burnt out. These tips can help you avoid burnout and keep your mental health in good shape.
Change doesn’t always feel like a good thing at first. But somehow, it normally ends up stretching us for the better. If you’re struggling to deal with the changes in your life, make a list of good things that have happened because of this change — such as more time with family because you no longer have to commute.
It might also be helpful to regularly make small changes (walk a different route, dye your hair, pick up a new hobby) so you’ll be more comfortable with the big ones. And finally, look for all the ways this change is making you into a better and stronger person.
Exercise or Stretch Daily
Daily exercise helps both your body and brain function at their top level. Aerobic exercise can improve your memory, boost your concentration, and help your mental health.
Stay active by going for a walk, run, or bike ride every day. You can also do strength training workouts at home or simply incorporate movement into your day by getting up from your desk once every hour.
If you’d rather do a low-impact, more relaxing workout, try stretching every day instead.
There are dozens of free yoga and workout classes available online that are designed to be done in the comfort of your own home.
Meditation can increase your attention span and help improve insomnia, among other benefits. If you’ve never meditated before, don’t worry! All you need is a quiet space.
Set a timer and sit down, focusing on your breathing. Any time your mind starts to wander or race, bring your attention back to your breath.
When you work from home, it can be all too easy to never stop. 52% of remote tech workers in the U.S. actually work longer hours than they did in the office. How can you separate your work life from your home life when they’re in the same physical location?
Focus on your most important to-do’s so you can feel good about accomplishing essential tasks. Try not to do too many around-the-house tasks during the day, or you may be tempted to keep working at night because you didn’t get “enough” done. And don’t check your work email in the evenings or on the weekends.
This is also where dressing in real clothes and creating a designated workspace can help. When you get dressed and go to your office (even if that office is just downstairs), you’re at work. When you’re finished working, you close your door to the office and put on comfortable clothes.
Recognize Your Needs
Your mental health is your responsibility. Identify what you need to feel balanced.
Are you an extrovert? Seek out opportunities to be with people, such as phone calls throughout the day, coffee with a neighbor, or dinner with a friend. Do you feel anxious being cooped up inside? Get out for daily walks.
Self-care looks different for everybody. Figure out what you need to feel good and then do it.
Tools for Working from Home
Tools such as chat platforms or project management systems play a big role in how to work from home efficiently.
Asana is a project management platform that can help your remote team stay connected. With a focus on team collaboration, Asana makes it easy to complete tasks together even if you and your team aren’t in the same physical location. This tool has space for messages, tasks, and more. When a task is created, it can be assigned to an employee. Multiple employees can add notes about the task until it’s marked as complete.
Zoom is a popular video call platform that many companies use to hold meetings. Whether your company is holding a webinar, a training meeting, or needs to have a conference call, Zoom is capable of supporting the event. Meeting attendees can join the meeting from any location and chat with other company employees face-to-face.
The 1Password software provides a safe place for you to store all of your passwords and other private information. By installing the 1Password browser extension, you can automatically fill in passwords, credit card information, and addresses as you browse the Internet. 1Password can save you a lot of time and frustration throughout the workday.
Many remote employees use time-tracking software so their company can keep track of how much they’ve worked. With its clean interface and simple instructions, Toggl is one of the easiest to use. You can track your tasks in real-time or manually upload time entries. Toggl also helps you stay productive — having a timer running encourages you to stay on task while working from home.
How to Work Remote Successfully
The key to successfully working from home is to stay motivated and continue your training. Remote work is all about goal-setting, and that’s where the Goals Quickstart Masterclass can help. In this masterclass, I’ll teach you exactly how to achieve your goals, become more confident, and build your dream life.
Register for the masterclass today and save 80% as you learn how to work from home.
About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.