The joys of working remotely — especially if you’re lucky enough to work from home. Your commute from the bedroom to the living room, dining room, or wherever you’ve set up your home office takes seconds and you’re ready to go.
While it sounds great, remote work environments also pose different sets of challenges. Not everybody can work remotely and be productive. If you want to be one of those that thrive working from home, there are certain skills you need to master.
1. Self-Motivation and Self-Management
When you’re working remotely, there’s less supervision. It can be freeing. Depending on your job, you may be able to work in your sweat pants or pajamas. There isn't a boss hovering over you or in the background making sure you stay on task.
With more flexibility in the time and the way you get things done, however, it’s also easy to procrastinate. Remote workers need to be self-motivated and disciplined to stay on task. This means being able to power through those tough days when you just don’t feel like working.
You need to be able to organize, schedule your work, and hold yourself accountable to stay on track. Here are some pro-tips for staying self-motivated and accountable:
- Create a quiet place in your home that you designate for work. It should be the same place every day, but shouldn't be your bedroom.
- Create regular work hours just like going to the office. Remote work situations often allow you to create your own hours, but you still need to have specific times where you will be focused on work only. This also helps your boss and other team members know when you will be available.
- Have a daily to-do list to keep yourself accountable. Your daily agenda will ensure you stay productive and focused during your working hours.
2. Ability to Compartmentalize
Nearly 70% of people working from home say they have a difficult time managing a healthy work-life balance. As the boundaries blur, it’s often difficult to balance work demands with home responsibilities such as childcare, chores, and the multitude of distractions.
In a remote work environment, you need the ability to compartmentalize tasks. By singling out specific things and focusing all your energy and attention, you can minimize distractions. When one task is complete, you can move on to the next. It’s also a good idea to turn off notifications on your phone and keep any other distractions, such as a TV, off.
3. Ability to Disconnect
Remote workers also need to be able to disconnect from work. When work and home are in the same place, it’s easy to forget you can turn the switch off. Many studies show that remote workers typically work more hours than those in the office who can leave at the end of the workday. For example, 70% of those working from home say they now work on the weekends. When you’re working remotely, you need to create boundaries and stop at regular times.
The inability to disconnect is one of the reasons so many remote employees say they’re struggling with burnout.
Remote workers have to work a little harder to maintain communication with the workplace. This means they need to be tech-savvy to balance the digital tools they use to maintain that connection and efficiently collaborate with their team. Tools such as Slack, Wrike, and Zoom are critical for remote workers to stay on task and effectively communicate with their team and upper management.
Work at home also means be able to strictly follow all company cybersecurity protocols. Here are some cybersecurity best practices that are being deployed for remote teams:
- Use good password management across all online accounts and tools. Remote workers should use a password manager, like Lastpass, to create very difficult passwords that are unique to each login.
- Use a VPN when connecting to the internet from any device that accesses company networks, tools, or data.
- Set up two-factor authentication as another security measure when remote workers are logging in to company systems.
As a remote worker, get familiar with the technology and best practices that you will be using on a daily basis.
5. Strong Communication
The ability to communicate efficiently is one of the most important skills you’ll need. Without regular face-to-face contact with peers and supervisors, a lot of the normal knowledge transfer doesn’t happen unless you are proactive.
Remote workers need to make time for scheduled and impromptu communications with a focused message. It’s too easy to misinterpret a text or email, so precise wording is important.
In today’s connected world, you need strong communication skills across phone, video, email, and text.
6. Stress Management
While there’s stress in every job, a third of employees say there’s increased stress in working remotely. Lack of social interaction with co-workers, isolation, and anxiety can result in poor performance. 74% of workers say poor mental health has impacted their productivity on the job.
Recognition of the need to reduce stress, and a proactive approach to stress management, are crucial skills for remote employees.
Problem-solving is important whether you’re working in the office or at home. However, it’s more valuable for remote workers – even if’s not part of your day-to-day workload.
When you’re working remotely, you have to make more decisions independently and deal with the little things that come up. For example, if you have a tech issue at work, you can turn to a colleague to ask for help or call the IT team. If you’re working remotely and your laptop crashes, you’re the first line of defense in solving the problem. While you may be able to reach out for help from your company’s IT team, you’ll need to try to fix it yourself to stay productive.
Mastering these skills can set you apart from your peers and help you make the transition to working remotely more effective.
Matt Shealy is the President of ChamberofCommerce.com. Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
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