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by Laura Slingo | March 10, 2020

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Even before the coronavirus outbreak, more people than ever were working remotely. People with personal and family commitments were working remotely in larger numbers, and the increase in freelance and gig work meant more and more people didn’t always have to go into an office.

Now, as remote working increases like never before, so does the need to make this type of work as effective as possible. So here are some tips on how to be as productive as possible when working from home.

1. Have the right equipment

The work you do remotely is only as good as the equipment you have on hand. This isn’t just a lie lazy remote workers tell themselves—it’s true. Out of office, a lot of your success relies on the equipment you’ve been given. A good quality laptop with good storage that operates at a workable speed is essential and offers the flexibility to work in a coffee shop, library, or home office.

The strength of your internet connection will also have a big impact on your work. It will dictate how productive your day is, how quickly you work, and whether or not you can communicate. Using limitless broadband can ensure a strong connection throughout the day. Remote working is demanding, and usually requires unlimited broadband to complete all your daily tasks and meetings.

Just as essential are a good quality desk and chair. They offer essential comfort and support while you’re sitting and working for hours. Don’t think you can just slouch on the sofa or use that old PC you’ve had for years. Make sure you have the right equipment to give yourself the best chance of making your time as a remote worker a success.

2. Stay connected to your team

Successful remote working depends on staying connected. Being out of the office can trick your brain into thinking you’re on a day off. But, of course, that’s not the case, and keeping in regular contact with the rest of your colleagues or clients is part of mastering remote working.

Internal team messaging services like Slack have evolved in recent years and become an essential way for teams to stay in touch across offices and remote working conditions. They allow for the quick sharing of updates and files rather than using clunkier communication tools such as email.

These tools are essential for staying connected with the rest of your team, business partners, and clients at quick notice. They create a holistic record of information everyone can access and work from even if they’re not in the same room or building.

Just because you’re out of the office doesn’t mean you should be out of client contact. Make sure you’re involved in internal and client meetings, as your advice and answers will still be needed. It’s important that you’re present and have all the vital up-to-date information you need.

3. Create a focus zone

No one is productive with Netflix on in the background. Yes, remote working does come with the temptation to stick on the TV and chill, but if you’re doing this on a more permanent basis, that’s a dangerous mindset to get into.

Remote working requires a dedicated space within your home where you feel most productive. A focus zone within your home is as much a state of mind as a physical space—it’s a mindset you step into when it's time to work.

For example, a lot has been written about the importance of bringing the natural world—in particular natural light—into your remote working space. However, you should also look to incorporate all the things that put you in a working mindset and create an office atmosphere. Whatever you would do to your desk in an office, do in your remote working space. It may be your home, but this is your place of work within your home.

Also, breaks are important, so when you need one leave your working space. If you only associate your workspace with your work, you’ll find it much easier to stay productive there.

4. Don’t dive into it

Unless you’re forced to work remotely full time—like many people have been recently with the coronavirus outbreak—try to gradually work remotely, rather than diving in headfirst and working from home 24/7.

Whether you’re starting a new role or moving to a new company, it's best to start off in the office and slowly graduate to remote working. You need to understand the company, its culture, and the people who work for it, even if you won’t be coming in every day and sitting next to them.

Without this insight, you can feel disconnected from the company and its business. Treat your first week or two as a research session into the company and the requirements of the role, soaking up as much information as possible. This will put you in the best position to be productive remotely. Otherwise, you’ll spend much of your early time remotely contacting people to ask details about processes, accounts, and clients.

Building relationships is vital, even for remote workers. It can be a lonely lifestyle with little support, so make sure you build a connection with your colleagues before you move to permanent remote working. In the long term, if it’s feasible and advisable, perhaps try to go into the office once a week to refresh yourself and update everyone on your progress. Not every business can offer this flexibility, but if it can this can help you to adjust to your life as a remote worker.

Laura Slingo is a writer and editor that regularly pens career, marketing, and lifestyle advice for leading publications across the globe.

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