Are you new at working remotely? Running your small business/entrepreneurial venture from home can lead to distractions, loss of focus and decreased productivity if you don’t plan carefully.
Here are some tips ease the transition and help you stay productive, focused, inspired and connected.
In any business, good communication is one of the most important ingredients for success. When it comes to working remotely, it is even more important to ensure open lines of communication - between staff members as well as between your business and its clients/customers.
You are no longer a few desks away from your co-workers and managers, so you need to focus on staying in touch and on the same page. Make sure your team knows which tools to use and how to reach you to avoid delays and misunderstandings.
Make time for one-on-one and team meetings, at least once a week, to connect with your team, keep everyone informed and focused and to ensure you reach your business goals. If your team has clear and achievable goals, you can monitor progress and give regular feedback, even from a distance.
Invest in technology
Considering you are no longer working at an office, you will need to turn your space into an environment conducive to good work. A critical aspect to keep in mind is that you will have to remain connected during office hours. To achieve this, a fast and reliable internet connection is integral.
You will need to be able to make video calls, schedule online meetings (using tools such as Skype or Zoom), make phone calls and check your emails without disruptions or a break in connection. You will need a computer or laptop set up with these resources to make your work day simpler.
You will also need a system for sharing documents (such as Dropbox or Google Docs) so everyone in the team has access to the necessary work documents.
It is best to have a designated work phone to use during office hours, to keep your personal and professional lives separate. In addition, invest in a good headset for making calls to ensure your staff and customers/clients can hear you clearly.
Plan your workspace
In order to avoid the lines of your home and office space blurring, you need to set up a workspace where you are able to focus on the tasks at hand without distractions.
If you have children or pets (or both), this is even more important to ensure you can work calmly, peacefully and optimally. It is also important to make those around you aware of the ground rules during office hours.
You need to be able to close the door for meetings, virtual conferences and calls. If need be, tape a “Do not disturb” sign to the door. This space becomes your haven, where your tools and resources are set up permanently - you don’t want to move your equipment around constantly!
In addition, a quiet and comfortable workspace will allow you to remain motivated and focused, while keeping your home and office environments separate. Think of a study, or spare room, where you can set up - a kitchen counter or dining room table won’t work.
Dress the part
It is tempting to work in your pyjamas from your bed if you don’t have an office to go to everyday. Sticking to a morning routine will help keep you motivated and focused on being productive. Get dressed, brush your teeth and assume your professional persona for the day.
Keep office hours and know when to rest
If you are new at working remotely, knowing when to log/switch off is the most challenging at first. Because we are constantly connected, through the internet and social media, you can receive emails and calls at all hours, especially if you work with others in different time zones. It is important to develop the habit of setting a time when you officially stop working for the day.
Be careful about setting the standard that you are available 24/7 - this is not sustainable in the long run and will negatively impact your personal and family life. While we all work late sometimes, don’t make it a habit.
Keeping consistent "office hours” will let others know when you are available and when you have logged off for the day.
Take time to focus on your personal life
In addition to maintaining office hours, it is important that you take time to focus on your personal life and your wellbeing. Commit to a regular fitness routine and make sure you have time in your schedule for breaks and healthy meals and snacks. Make time for your family, friends and loved ones.
Find a community
To avoid getting lonely while working remotely, make sure you feel supported and connected to the outside world.
As mentioned, there are great tech tools to keep you connected to your team and your customers/clients. Social media and virtual communities, which gather other people who work remotely, can help you maintain focus, keep your morale high and feel connected to a larger social structure.