The popularity of remote work was rising steadily long before COVID. A 2019 survey from Owl Labs found that over 62% of employed Americans engaged in remote work that year, and in another 2017 study, 74% of North America-based office workers said that they would quit their job to work for another company where they could work remotely, even without a raise.
It isn’t difficult to see why: no long commute to and from the office, fewer distractions, and the flexibility to squeeze in a midday workout (or load of laundry). Plus, for many people, working remotely means a more affordable cost of living — far from expensive tech industry hubs like New York and San Francisco — and being able to stay close to family.
Still, remote work comes with its own set of challenges, particularly the absence of camaraderie, informal collaboration, or structure, all of which are seamlessly packed into a day in the office. Depending on your personality type, the shift to remote work may feel like a big adjustment at first. The good news? There are quick workarounds for these common challenges, and preparation goes far. With a little bit of planning, you can bring more structure and socialization into the workday and conquer remote work. Read on for our top tips.
1. Stay connected to colleagues
Your first few days in the home office will probably seem pretty quiet in contrast to being surrounded by colleagues. It may feel more as if you are working in isolation than working remotely. Of course, you’re still a part of a team, even if you don’t see the same familiar faces in person every day. The trick is to be more intentional about getting to know your colleagues and spending time with them, virtually or in person, on and off the clock.
Thankfully, the same tools and technology that have made remote work possible can be used for team-building purposes. Try creating threads in your company’s communication platform to talk about things that aren’t necessarily work-related, or take the initiative to schedule some post-work happy hour Zooms. Your coworkers, who are just as eager to connect, will likely thank you for it.
Speaking of Zooms, while video conferencing fatigue is real, try to keep your camera on during meetings as much as possible — it’s a lot easier to form lasting connections with your coworkers when you can actually put a face to the name.
Also, keep in mind that working from home doesn’t preclude meeting up with your colleagues in person. If you are located in the same city as other members of your team, schedule some lunch dates, or a work session in your favorite coffee shop. You can also try to grow your personal network beyond your coworkers by checking out Meetup events or joining a coworking space.
2. Remember to unplug — at a reasonable hour
It’s more difficult to separate your personal life from your work life when both happen in the same space. Many people who have recently transitioned to remote work often struggle with remembering to take breaks throughout the day and to wind down at a reasonable hour. It’s tempting to keep checking email even after you’ve officially signed off for the day, especially when you’re trying to prove yourself early on in a new job. Unfortunately, this tends to quickly evolve into a late-night work session more often than not.
As tempting as it may be to keep burning the midnight oil, remember that balance is extremely important when you’re working in a fast-paced environment. Setting boundaries to maintain a healthy work-life balance will help you avoid burnout in the long run and thrive in your new role. Here are some simple ways to achieve that.
- Schedule regular reminders on your calendars to take breaks. Similarly, you may want to block off an after-work walk around 5 or 6 to create a more formal division between your workday and the rest of your evening.
- Communicate clearly with your team and/or manager when you’re signing off, and then actually pause notifications on your company’s chat platform.
- Create physical boundaries between your office and the rest of your apartment. Having a separate room for work is ideal, but if you don’t have a home office, turn off your laptop and stash it away during a few hours of screen-free time.
3. Avoid distractions
Everyone’s experience of working from home is different. While some people thrive immediately on being able to work independently, away from chatty coworkers, others may have difficulty structuring their day and find that remote work can foster procrastination.
Take advantage of the added flexibility you get from working remotely. Not everyone does their best work between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm, and as a remote employee, you have much more control over your schedule.
Other time management tips for completing your most pressing to-do’s on time:
- Tackle that annoying, big, important task that you’re most likely to procrastinate on first thing in the morning. (This technique is sometimes referred to as “eating the frog.”)
- Minimize the number of individual tasks you need to accomplish each day to avoid unnecessary wastes of time.
- There are many tools that make it a little more difficult to give into all the distractions that come with the territory of working from home. Check out one of these distraction-limiting tools to help you stay focused on your high-priority items.
At the end of the day, remote work represents the future of the workplace, with unmatched flexibility and opportunities for growth. Satellite can help you develop the skills you need to find a fulfilling job in tech sales — without having to leave the city you know and love. Learn more about our Career Accelerator program.