Duncan Fenning
Oct 21, 2016
6 mins reading time

Remote: Productivity

I’ve been working remotely for about 2 months now. I’ve noticed a lot of changes in the way I work, compared to how I worked when I was in an open plan office. Working remotely requires adjustment. Your willingness to try new things and change how you work, dictates how effective a remote worker you can be. For example, experimenting with your working hours, environment and lifestyle will enable you to discover how you work best. I have traded in the traditional 9-5 office job and have learnt how to become a productive remote worker. Here’s my experience so far.

You control your environment

Working in a shared office, we come to accept a lot of things. Toilets aren’t always going to be free when you want them, the kitchen isn’t always going to be empty when you need a drink and the office isn’t always going to be quiet when you need to get your head down. We have to work around these compromises. However, this is not the case when working remotely. You’re in control.

So much so that when working remotely, it doesn’t even matter where you work. Be it in the home office, on the sofa or in a cafe. You get to choose how and where you work best. No more compromises on when you can concentrate without distraction. No more getting caught up in the coffee rush after a morning meeting. No more waiting around, not being able to focus as you are desperate to use the toilet.

What this means is, when you need to focus on work you can. When you can focus on work, you are more productive. Since I’ve been working remotely, I’ve surprised myself at how quickly I can get things done. Best of all, it has been easier for me to do the work, therefore I’ve felt more relaxed doing it.

The need for self control

When you choose your own office space you have to be aware of the possible distractions. The temptation to watch TV or get some chores done is bigger than ever, and with no one watching your every move - who’s to stop you. The answer is you. You need to be vigilant in ensuring work time is spent doing work. The easiest way I’ve found is asking myself - ‘If I were at the office, would I be doing this?’. When the answer is no, you don’t do it.

From the very start of my remote working adventure, I set myself ground rules that I stick to. After 2 months I don’t even think about them as they are incorporated into my daily routine.

I dedicated a space for work. For me, this was my spare bedroom, where I have an office desk and chair. I only associate sitting at that desk with work, therefore when I go there, that is all I’m thinking about.

The TV never gets turned on whilst I’m working. I know if I were to put the TV on in the background, I would end up not focusing on my work. So straight from the offset, I ensured this never happens.

The main thing is to ensure you don’t get stuck in a bad routine. As soon as you start slipping, it will become a habit that will negatively impact your productivity.

Take time to plan

Planning my day, breaking work down into manageable tasks and focusing on one thing at a time has helped improve my productivity. This isn’t anything new, and in fact it’s not even specific to remote working, but I feel it has played a big part in boosting my productivity since working from home.

When working remotely, you have no one ‘supervising’ you, no one encouraging you to focus on your work. This means self motivation is very important. I set myself small goals and check them off a todo list. I only ever focus on one thing at a time, meaning the list of work I am doing doesn’t become overwhelming. This also reduces context switching, a real productivity killer!

I’ve also found planning ahead, for example what I intend to do the next morning, helps me get back into work quicker. No more trying to remember what my job is, or trying to remember what I was doing the day before.

Flexibility

Choosing your own hours has never been easier than when you work from home. Holiday Extras have a flexible working policy, which enables us to work hours that suit us best. 9-5 is a tradition, but who says it’s the best way to get the most out of an employee? Everyone is different, some work better in the mornings, others work better in the evenings. Working remotely allows you to take full advantage of this. With no commute, starting early is easy, allowing you to have your evenings completely free. Or if you are a night owl, having a lie in and starting late is also a possibility.

For me, I work best in the mornings. I have no commute, meaning I can stay in bed longer! I can break my day up, perhaps hitting the gym in lunch, allowing me to be fresh and focused in the afternoon. I’ve found organising your day to allow you to be more productive is much easier when working remotely.

Remote collaboration tools

Working remotely can make collaboration seem more difficult. Getting answers to questions, when you can’t physically go and talk to someone, can slow productivity down. However with the tools we have available today, remote collaboration is easier than ever. Slack, Hangouts, Screenhero are all great tools to help communication and collaboration. Being able to communicate with someone, and work with them has never been easier. If you haven’t already, have a read of how remote pair programming can increase productivity.

Remote working can improve productivity

To sum all this up, I’ve found in the last 2 months that working remotely has improved my productivity. I’ve had to adapt my work style in order to find a routine that works well for me. I’ve ensured my workspace doesn’t hinder my work rate and have made use of tools to help overcome the barrier of being a remote worker. I’ve never felt more relaxed about my work, my work-life balance has never been better and yet I’ve still managed to be more productive. Maybe more of us should give it a go? Till next time!

Tags Remote, Productivity, Efficiency