Working remotely can be a wonderful thing. It offers greater flexibility in time and schedule, the luxury of being able to work anywhere in the world, and even the added benefit of working with teams across the globe instead of just one city. But the truth is, even with all its benefits, working remotely is just not for everyone.
What many fail to realize is that telecommuting requires a serious amount of organization, time management, and self-motivation. Often, even if you’re part of a team, you’ll likely be working alone for a good amount of the time. That can be a lonely experience if you’re not prepared to handle it.
At Gallardo Labs, remote work is a way of life. Our team spans across the globe and always comes together virtually to deliver one cohesive vision. But that doesn’t happen by chance. It takes dedication, focus, and collaboration along with organization and planning.
Just ahead, we’re sharing some of our favorite tips for working remotely, whether you’re a freelancer working solo or a collaborator on a team project, to help you feel connected and organized instead of lonely and aimless.
1. Designate a Workspace
While it’s true that as a remote professional you can work anywhere in the world (beach day, anyone?), more often than not, you’ll likely find yourself in the same comfortable spots. Whether you’re working at the kitchen table, a designated home office, or your favorite coffee shop, find a space where you can work, take calls, and get on a video conference when necessary. Keep the area clean and efficient to avoid distractions. Productivity requires focus. Having your favorite music and a cup of coffee and/or bottle of water nearby will also keep you focused for longer.
2. Set Up “Office Hours”
You may be more creative in the evenings, rather than first thing in the morning. Thankfully, if you’re working remotely, you can honor that schedule. But keep in mind that some of your clients may keep office hours. So it’s likely that you’ll have to answer emails, take calls, or attend meetings at their discretion. Take that into consideration when planning your “office hours” to avoid feeling like you’re working ‘round the clock.
Be clear in communicating your availability and take that time into account when you’re planning for the day. It may afford you a longer lunch or a chunk of time to get out for a workout in the middle of the day. If you’re aware of your time, you won’t feel the need to work extensive hours.
Overall, pay attention to lulls in the day when you’re not as effective. It’s always better to work when you’re feeling most creative and really respecting those hours than feeling like you need to power through just to follow someone else’s schedule. After all, it’s your time. Make it work for you.
3. Set Up Your Day
It can be easy to get off track when you’re not in a conventional team or office environment. Being successful at working remotely requires time management and organization. Blocking off your day into segments (keeping a to-do list, checking email, working on tasks for your current project, attending meetings) can help keep you on track and working efficiently, which is important when your time is literally your money.
4. Communicate Often
It can feel a bit isolating at times on days when there are no team meetings or calls. Try staying in touch with your team and/or clients via phone, email, or apps like Slack. Communication is key to staying on track and remaining focused on the vision for the task at hand.
5. Take Breaks
Just as you would in an office, get up, step away from your workspace, and take a break once in a while. Get some fresh air if you can. Taking a break can mean getting a fresh perspective on a project, or simply just reducing stress. Don’t try to power through it. When something is forced, it shows. Instead, make it a habit to walk away, stretch, do some breathing, or simply talk to a friend. It will do you wonders.
6. Get Out When You Can
Even if you’re in a shared workspace with all the comforts of a conventional office location, getting out of that space and into some fresh air can do a whole lot for creativity and productivity in your day. In my experience, some of the best ideas pop up on a walk with the dog, or a light afternoon yoga session. Working remotely offers some of those perks thanks to the flexibility in scheduling your time. Use it to create a healthy work/life balance that will absolutely pay off in fresher ideas.
7. Choose Your Favorite Tools
When it comes to actually carrying out daily tasks while working remotely, having the right tools is a crucial part of the process. Connecting with a global team and collaborating virtually relies heavily on the quality of the tools we use. Our Chief Creative Officer, Nicole Gallardo, recently rounded up her favorite tools for getting it all done; Zoom and Slack are some of our essentials but everyone has their own way of working efficiently. Above all, be sure to choose what works best for you (and don’t feel like you have to pay a ton of money to get a quality tool – we use all of ours for free).
8. Close Out Your Day
Because working remotely can often mean working unconventional (read: late) hours, closing out the day and creating boundaries in your schedule is essential to prevent burning out. Block off your calendar during hours where you absolutely must have time off. Creating a routine, whenever possible, can help get you into the habit of closing off at a certain hour. But on days when it’s absolutely impossible to work a conventional schedule, do yourself the favor of going through a “closing up” routine, just as you would in any conventional workspace. That means shutting down your laptop, checking off what got done on your list, and making notes for what you’ll need to address tomorrow. Then try to resist checking emails for the rest of the night. You can’t get a fresh start if you never stop in the first place.
Do you work remotely? What are some of your favorite tips for getting it all done? Share with us in the comments or sound off on social @gallardolabs.