Working remotely, commonly referred to as telecommuting, virtual and work-from-home jobs, grew 27% in 2014 and 83% of human resource professionals surveyed say telecommuting will be more prevalent in the next five years1. Common remote roles include consultant, customer service representative, account manager, case manager, business development director and marketing manager.
Some people work remotely full-time while others telecommute on specific weekdays of which Monday and Friday are most popular. Here are four ways to increase productivity when working remotely.
Write a daily to-do list and accomplish everything on it. Robert C. Pozen, author of Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours, recommends tweaking your to-do list to maximize productivity. Follow these three steps:
- Compile your to-do list the night before instead of wasting peak performance hours on this task
- Test the tasks to determine if they can be delegated or delayed for another day. The goal is to ferret out tasks only you can do and those that must be done promptly.
- Allocate time for each task based on estimates so that you have ample time to complete high priority tasks
Organize your day for optimal productivity. According to Duke University professor, Daniel Ariely, people are typically most productive during the first two hours after becoming fully awake. He wrote, “One of the saddest mistakes in time management is the propensity of people to spend the two most productive hours of their day on things that don’t require high cognitive capacity.” Instead of spending time making your family’s lunches or checking social media, salvage those early hours by getting right to work. Take morning and afternoon breaks so that your brain can rest and resume working optimally. By attaining this cognitive discipline daily, you will become more productive.
Reconnect with colleagues. Many people who work remotely feel as though they are on an island with limited interaction. By checking in with your boss and colleagues on a regular basis, you will feel more connected and stay abreast of new challenges, changes, etc. Make a deliberate effort—perhaps by including daily tasks to contact specific co-workers and/or your boss, to maintain communication. There are tons of tools available which enable close communication such as Hipchat for group chatting and Sqwiggle, which allows your team members to see you all day long via a webcam.
Kick interruptions out. Working remotely will be extremely challenging unless you set boundaries, expectations and a schedule. If you work at home, gently explain to your neighbors, friends and family that you will gladly schedule time to see them during the day—on your break. Setting and sticking to a schedule is critical because if you do not, non-work related interruptions will usurp your day. Limit distractions by working in a quiet, private area, preferably where the door can be closed; setting a timer during your break so you are acutely aware of how much free-time you have left and by scheduling personal appointments and conversations for either during break-times or lunchtime.