18 Feb 15 Tips and Tricks to Boost Remote Work Productivity
Once upon a time, employers thought remote work productivity wasn’t possible. Perhaps they envisioned their employees sitting at home binge watching Netflix in their underwear.
Then, COVID-19 happened in March. Since then, millions of Americans have worked remotely.
An Upwork report found, “Nine months into the pandemic, 41.8 percent of the American workforce remains fully remote.”
It’s a trend that is not going away anytime soon.
According to SHRM, “A growing set of companies, including Amazon, Capital One, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce and Siemens, have extended their remote-work plans (at least part time) into 2021, or even permanently.”
The Upwork report also claims:
- The number of remote workers in the next five years is expected to be nearly double what it was before COVID-19.
- By 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be remote, an increase of 16.8 million people from pre-pandemic rates.
- Managers believe that 26.7 percent of the workforce will be fully remote in one year.
In short, remote work is here to stay.
If you have been stuck at home for months, it’s time to accept the inevitable.
Now that you’ve accepted that you will likely continue working from home, it’s time to think of ways to boost remote work productivity.
The good news is that the pandemic has proven remote work productivity is possible (and can even lead to more productivity).
Whether you are looking for ways to boost remote work productivity for your current job or looking for a new job that includes hybrid work environments and schedule flexibility, get started with these tips and tricks for remote work productivity.
1. Pick a spot. Stick to the spot.
At work, you have an office, cubicle, or space where you work every day. There is a reason for this assigned space – habits lead to productivity.
It tricks our minds into thinking, “When we sit in this space, we work.”
If you cannot work from home, choose a spot where you can get work done, such as the public library.
If you can work from home, choose a spot in your home where you can (and will) work every day. Ideally, this spot will be a home office.
Every day put your butt in the same seat and get to work.
Assigned space = remote work productivity.
2. Create a space you love.
Whether you work in a corner or have a dedicated home office, you need to create a space you love.
Paint the walls. Hang pictures. Choose desk accessories that are functional and make you smile.
3. Invest in quality computer equipment.
With the possibility of long-term remote work on the horizon, it is time to invest in quality computer equipment.
Make sure you have everything you need to work efficiently, such as a good computer, a larger monitor, a wireless router, and video conferencing equipment.
4. Find decent lighting.
When possible, choose a space with natural lighting.
One 2018 study found that optimizing the amount of natural light in a home office significantly improves health, wellness, and remote work productivity.
Moreover, poor lighting has detrimental side effects, such as eyestrain and headaches.
If natural lighting is not available, install lighting fixtures with white bulbs, which give off “cool” light, or a floor lamp with natural lighting.
5. Watch your posture.
Remote work requires a significant amount of time sitting in front of your computer.
If you aren’t careful, you will find yourself suffering from backaches and neck pain.
Aches and pains hurt your overall productivity.
Another tip: Purchase a stand that places your computer at eye level.
6. Allow yourself to take breaks.
Surprisingly, many people who work from home find themselves working more.
This is because they allow themselves to always be working and don’t take breaks like they would in the office.
The problem with this mentality is that breaks actually boost remote work productivity. Our bodies and minds need breaks to stay productive.
Set break timers, get up, and move around. Enjoy a true lunch break away from your computer.
7. Get dressed.
It’s easy to roll out of bed and start working in your PJs, but it may be killing your productivity.
Dressing professionally, even while at home, boosts remote work productivity.
The Wall Street Journal explains, “Researchers studying links between clothes, brain activity and productivity have long found that dressing up for work can improve your performance.”
Plus, you want to look professional if you have an unexpected video call.
8. Eliminate distractions.
If you find yourself tempted to watch Netflix or scroll Instagram for hours, find ways to eliminate these distractions when you should be working.
Programs like Freedom allow you to create internet blockers for set hours, so you can’t access your favorite sites while working.
9. Say no to clutter.
A messy desk is not the key to success. It’s the opposite.
Harvard Business Review explains, “You may think you’re not bothered by your overstuffed filing cabinets or the stacks of paper on your desk. But scientists at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute have used fMRI and other approaches to show that our brains like order, and that constant visual reminders of disorganization drain our cognitive resources and reduce our ability to focus. They also found that when participants cleared clutter from their work environment, they were better able to focus and process information, and their productivity increased.”
At home, you likely have even more clutter depending on where your workspace is located.
For example, if your desk is in the kitchen, you may need to start cleaning the kitchen every evening to make sure it is clutter-free for the next day.
A clean space = remote work productivity.
10. Have set hours.
Don’t mistake working remotely for working anytime you want to.
If your company doesn’t require set work hours, you need to create them yourself. If not, you will find yourself being unproductive as you procrastinate and put things off.
Plus, this helps you explain when you are on and off the clock to those living with you.
11. Follow a start of day and end of day routine.
Similar to making it a habit to work in the same spot every day, you need to create a start of day and end of day routine.
These routines are key to increasing remote work productivity.
Even some of the most famous writers have strict routines to keep them productive.
Stephen King said this about his start of day routine, “I have a glass of water or a cup of tea. There’s a certain time I sit down, from 8:00 to 8:30, somewhere within that half hour every morning […] I have my vitamin pill and my music, sit in the same seat, and the papers are all arranged in the same places…The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon.”
In addition to having a morning routine, you need to have an end of day routine, such as setting an alarm when it’s time to close out work for the day.
12. Prioritize your to-do list.
To-do lists are awesome – unless you don’t know how to prioritize them.
At the start of each day, make a list of all the work-related tasks you want to complete. Then, highlight the tasks that must be done that day.
If you finish the highlighted tasks, move on to the rest.
13. Set boundaries for your space.
For many working from home in 2021, they aren’t alone in their house.
Their roommates, spouses, or children are also home, which means boundaries are essential.
If at all possible, choose to work in a space with a door so you can close the door when you are on the clock.
If not, create boundaries for those who live with you. Put out a do not disturb sign.
Explain that when your earphones are on, it means you are working.
14. Enforce work hour restrictions.
Similarly, it is important to enforce work hour restrictions.
Unfortunately, when some people hear you are working remotely, they think it means you are available at all times.
Prevent the chatty neighbor from talking your ear off by not answering the phone during those hours or by simply explaining you are working and can’t talk until later.
15. Turn off the noise.
If you have other people at home while you work remotely, find ways to turn off all the outside noise.
By tuning out the background noise, you can improve remote work productivity.