Once a rare perk of the business world, remote work is becoming increasingly common across cultures and industries. And it’s easy to see why.
Remote work saves businesses and employees money that would otherwise be spent on office space, commuting, and so on. Employees consistently rank remote work as one of the most valuable workplace benefits around. And it’s enabled a growing subculture of traveling nomads to work for a living while seeing the world.
At the same time that remote work comes with loads of perks, it also brings along some challenges. Chief among them: How to remain productive without all the trappings of a traditional office to keep you on track?
Follow these six tips, and you may just find that working remotely makes you more productive than you’ve ever been at the office (no matter whether you’re working in San Francisco, Bangkok, or Paris).
Set the scene.
If you’re working while traveling, you may not be able to set up shop in a home office (or anything resembling a cubicle). But you can designate a space where you go exclusively for work—whether it’s a hotel desk, a rented room, or a local coffee shop. Wherever you choose to work, aim to eliminate distractions by wearing noise-cancelling headphones, logging out of email and social media accounts, and/or working behind closed doors. And be sure to keep your workspace neat—physical clutter can get in the way of clear thinking.
Dress for success.
It may seem irrelevant, but changing out of your pajamas and into something resembling work attire can actually improve focus. Wearing more formal clothes can also improve attention to detail. You don’t have to put on your finest suit every day, but it’s worth changing into a clean shirt or a nice pair of pants in order to enhance your work performance.
Work with yourself.
Some people are most productive in the wee hours of the morning, some people don’t get started until early afternoon, and some people do their best thinking at night. Observe when you’re most productive and then tailor your work schedule around those hours. Once you’ve established your ideal work times, aim to stick to a consistent routine so that your work days have enough structure to support consistent performance. And be sure to notify co-workers and/or clients of when you’ll be active so they know when you’re accessible.
Schedule meetings in batches.
Remote meetings, interviews, and other calls can easily eat up a whole day if not managed properly. By scheduling meetings and calls back to back, you can ensure that you’re able to tend to your coworkers’ and clients’ needs and still have plenty of uninterrupted time in which to get work done.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
One of the downsides of remote work is that it can be easy to fall out of touch with coworkers. (“Out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t just apply to physical objects.) This, in turn, can result in productivity losses in the event that you aren’t up to speed on new project developments. For this reason, it’s important that you make an effort to be visible to your coworkers—even from far away.
To that end, be sure to provide regular status updates via email, phone, or task management platforms such as Asana or Slack. Share your calendar with coworkers so they’ll have a clear sense of when they can expect you to be accessible. Use away messages when you’re not working. And always remember that communicating via email is ripe for miscommunication—so read each message carefully before sending to ensure that nothing you’ve written could accidentally convey the wrong tone or inspire someone to take offense.
When you’re working odd hours without coworkers nearby, it’s easy to get sucked into the computer for days at a time. But in order to sustain productivity, it’s critical to give your mind and body breaks from the daily grind. Make sure to schedule in downtime throughout your work day, whether that’s taking a short walk, enjoying a lunch break away from the computer, or meditating for a few minutes. These breaks will help to reenergize you so that you’re always approaching work with a fresh mind and an eye toward efficiency.
Use your time wisely, communicate clearly, and hack your work day by wearing work clothes and batching together meetings and calls. In these ways, you can ensure that you’ll be a standout employee no matter where you are in the world.