I love to travel, be outdoors as often as possible and like to get any work done as soon as it comes in, so the concept and reality of remote work makes perfect sense to me. Many people thrive working remotely, whether thats from home or on the road and are motivated by the freedom to be able to work outside of the conventional 9 to 5 workday.
However – thanks to Covid 19 – this year was the first time that remote work was the only option for myself and the rest of the world. At first, it was a novelty working from home, but after a couple months into lockdown many people couldn’t wait to get back to real-life meetings and a bit of Friday afternoon banter at the office.
Fast forward a whole 6 months down the line, and I have yet to have a coffee break with colleagues, attend a meeting in person or meet a single new client in the flesh. Why? Because I am currently in South Africa and have been since the global pandemic started! If we look at the world map, anyone will agree that I am working remotely in the true sense of the word, so I feel I can add a bit of wisdom on the topic.
Firstly, what do you need to work remotely, successfully? And by successfully, I mean doing your job efficiently and effectively, whilst still having a personal life. You need the obvious: a computer, good internet connection, a comfortable desk, headphones, a pen and notebook, a diary and your favourite coffee mug – in other words. exactly what you are expected to have at the office. You also need to have a good communication system, be it Zoom, Google Meet, Slack or something similar, and of course a time keeping tool, like Toggl.
More than that, you need to be disciplined, responsible, self-sufficient and self-motivated. This is where the challenges start presenting themselves. Without these behaviours being applied religiously, working remotely can very quickly result in two things, either a decrease in productivity and quality of work or a decrease in work/life balance.
As well as the usual, ‘keep to a routine’, ‘don’t wear pyjamas’ and ’switch off work notifications after hours’, here are 3 top tips that I felt helped me the most, to establish myself as a remote worker:
1. Stay connected
Communication skills are imperative! Contact, clarification and confirmation. These three actions should be on a constant cycle as work comes in and goes out. Be very clear on what your projects entail, and what is expected of you and stay involved. The more involved you are in day-to-day happenings at the head office, the more involved you will be when projects change, colleagues are struggling or deadlines have moved.
2. It’s all in the mind
Be organised! This goes without saying for any type of work, but when your office is in your lounge, on the beach or in a bustling café, it gives a new meaning to being organised. I am not just referring to organising your desk and schedule, but very importantly, your thoughts and attitude. Getting into the right state of mind is vital to being good at working remotely. You need to understand and appreciate that it’s a privilege to be able to both work and work remotely, so don’t take advantage. Set goals for the week, write them down, tick them off and EARN your salary.
3. Record everything
Write weekly reports even if you don’t submit them to your company. This is the best way to keep record of what you have accomplished each week, as well as the reasons that prevent you from reaching your goals. It also reminds everyone that even though you sitting at a desk made out of a palm tree, drinking from a coconut and wearing a speedo, you are still meeting all your objectives each week!
As we live in a digital age, the argument against the success of working remotely is becoming weaker and weaker, and 2020 certainly played a huge part in that. Ultimately, the main push back is obviously due to the fear that the job won’t get done, that client relations and customer service will suffer and companies’ will be paying employees to be on permanent holiday.
However, with all the incredible technology we have at our disposal, unless you are a doctor, construction worker or massage therapist, there truly is very little reason why many of us need to be seated in one central office in order to be accountable and productive. It also definitely helps if you work for a supportive, open minded and progressive company like Image Matters.