8 Powerful tips to increase remote work productivity
Fortunately, there are methods to maximize your productivity and set yourself up for remote work success, wherever you might be in the world.
This article was first published on Anyplace.com under a different title: Level Up: 8 Tips to Increase Remote Work Productivity
Who even wants a sterile office environment with boring social interactions nowadays? The office of the future may well be our own living room. Remote work is on the rise—it has seen a 159% increase since 2005, and continues to gain momentum in organizations of all types, sizes, and industries. What was once considered a novelty is rapidly becoming the norm for a large percentage of the global workforce. In Singapore, more and more corporate staff want to become remote employees, what with better work-life balance.
That said, there remains a negative stigma and distrust around remote workers (usually millennials) in some realms of management, especially when it comes down to productivity. Employers still see difficulties in integrating millennials into their companies. The belief is that working anywhere outside of the office creates a less efficient employee and an overall productivity-drain. Now, these same (overly suspicious) bosses may also be the ones who still think that working from home is equivalent to a full day of pyjama pants, frozen pizzas, and cat videos, even remote worker productivity is often better than in-office productivity.
Well, we can’t speak to the PJ pants—freak what you feel, friends—but when it comes to productivity, the myth has been debunked. In fact, employee productivity has actually been proven to increase with the freedom of remote work.
A two-year study by Stanford University found that there was an impressive increase in work productivity among people who worked from home. The study of 500 people who worked both remotely and in a traditional office setting concluded that employee productivity among remote workers was equal to an extra full day’s work each week. That’s big.
While the benefits of working remote are abundant—both for employees and employers—it can pose challenges to overcome. Productivity and communication with your teammates and higher-ups can suffer without the proper tools and intentional focus.
Fortunately, there are methods to maximise your productivity and set yourself up for remote work success, wherever you might be in the world. Below, you’ll find 8 remote work productivity tips to help keep productivity levels high and communication channels open.
1. Find your environment for success
If you’re just beginning your remote work journey, it’s a good idea to experiment and figure out the environment in which you work most effectively. You want to set yourself up for success in a place where you can focus hard on the tasks at hand. The goal is to feel motivated by your surroundings and be ready to tackle whatever comes your way.
If being around like-minded people does wonders, start with a coworking space. If white noise and the smell of fresh coffee is more of your thing, try out a local coffee shop. Or, if you really enjoy your living quarters, designate a spot for an office.
In this case, be mindful of working in areas that are used for relaxing. If the couch is where you Netflix and chill, your brain will naturally want to slip into that mode if you try to work from there. Instead, create a dedicated space with a nice chair, desk, good lighting, and the right vibe to be able to focus on your work.
For digital nomads on the move, you may not be able to set up a home office unless you enjoy mid-term stays in cities, where you have a home base. Co-living spaces are a great way to get condo-like environments at a more affordable rate.
You can also find co-working spaces now in most cities, and they’re also a great way to meet other digital nomads. Just remember to bring along essential items for focus like noise-cancelling headphones.
2. Coordinate, communicate, collaborate
With the proliferation of remote workers and digital nomads in the workforce, tech companies have taken action to do their part to encourage an increase in productivity. We’ve seen a multitude of powerful communication and collaboration tools specifically built for remote teams and those working in co-working spaces.
From file sharing to project management to video chat platforms, it’s never been easier for remote workers to stay organized and connected with teammates, bosses, or clients. As a fully remote company, the Anyplace team uses a variety of tools, apps and services to be productive on a daily basis—Slack, Zoom, Airtable, Asana, and many others. In a future post, we’ll shed some light on the ones we use and how they work for us.
3. Plan regular meetings, but not too many
Set up regular meetings to connect with your team during the week, but not too many that end up hindering your workflow. A short weekly meeting is a simple way to stay in the loop on any new info you may have missed (especially important when employees work in different time zones), and to sync on the top priorities for your team.
Regular check-ins are also a great way for teammates to be able to share wins and progress on projects, which can help to lift overall morale—think of it as a virtual high five. Whenever possible, use video on your calls to evoke a more personal connection, since you may not see teammates regularly.
Note: Honestly, I used to not be a huge fan of video on calls, but I have to admit, I’ve come around full circle. It ends up bringing a warm quality to a business activity that is colder with only audio, as it becomes more like talking to a friend across the table.
Don’t think that you have to dress to impress on these video chats, either. We never do. Just be in a place without a ton of distractions or noise.
4. Slay those distractions
If you’re new to the remote work scene, it might feel a little too easy to get distracted when working from home or travelling around on your maiden voyage as a digital nomad.
Whether it’s your incredible balcony view at the co-living space in Singapore, the dirty clothes that have been sitting on the floor for a week, your chinchilla Stuart, or today’s New York Times crossword puzzle (my vice), distractions are a-plenty and beckon for your attention.
The first step in evading distractions is to be aware of them. If you can’t resist lounging on the balcony, don’t do your work there. If the crossword puzzle on the table is calling your name, put it in your backpack and out of your line of sight. If the laundry pile is screaming “wash me”, figure out a time to address it, either on a break or before/after work. Slay those distractions and you’ll be way more productive.
5. Get physical
Olivia Newton-John was onto something—getting physical is good for productivity, although it certainly doesn’t need to be jazzercise. Exercise is invigorating to both the body and mind. It increases blood flow to the brain, which can help sharpen awareness and make you more ready to tackle your next big project. So, take regular breaks and do something physical!
Hit the gym for 45 minutes of cardio. Go to a yoga class. Take a walk around the block and listen to your favourite podcast. Or, do some jumping jacks in your co-living space. Whatever activity you choose, use it as a way to recenter and return to your work area with renewed energy and focus. After all, mental health goes hand in hand with physical health.
6. Sunny D (the vitamin, not the drink)
If you’re working from home, an apartment, a hotel room or even a coworking space, you might be holed up inside the entire day. There could even be times when you don’t even leave your place for a few days. This is no good, my friends! Not only are sunlight and fresh air crucial to your health, but they’ll help clear your mind and motivate you. Taking a walk might even help you increase productivity as you get inspiration from somewhere other than your remote work environment too.
Being stuck in front of a screen all day—particularly if you’re handling a difficult task—is actually detrimental to your productivity. So, carve out a little time each day to go outside. Sit on a bench, take a stroll (see tip #5), read a book in the park—whatever your surroundings allow, do it.
7. Design your optimal workday
One of the substantial benefits of working remotely is the freedom to design your ideal workday. Let’s not forget that remote productivity does come in all shapes and sizes. As long as your employer is on board with a little flexibility, you can determine the hours when you are most productive and do your best work, and create a schedule to match that. Some folks feel more at focus early in the morning.
Others, are night owls and do their best work later in the evening. It’s important to make yourself available during core business hours for important meetings and calls (see tip #3), and then experiment with working hours throughout the rest of the day to maximize productivity.
This process can become more complicated if you decide to travel halfway across the world from your team, but if that’s the case, sort out your schedule changes beforehand. Working remote gives you the freedom to be anyplace, but being able to adapt is part of the game.
8. Switch up your venue
Sometimes a simple change of scenery can give your creativity and energy levels a much-needed jolt. Even switching it up one day a week can spur productivity. Try working from a lively coffee shop one week and a coworking space the week after that. Of course, be conscious of potential distractions (tip #4), but test a few locations to see how they impact your mood and productivity.
To be fair, there isn’t a secret formula when it comes to productivity for remote workers or digital nomads, but these 8 tips should help you get on the right track and squeeze out as much productive work time as you can. More so than anything else, treat your remote workday with the same respect and structure that you would a day in the office, and you’ll set yourself up for success. Now, let’s get to work!