By Paige Kummer
Offices have been an integral part of our experience and relationships for a long time. Whether it is cake in the break room, a walk with your exercise buddy at lunch, or something else entirely, there are a lot of experiences that we just associate with that environment. The good news? Remote work environments can be all those things are more. Here are my six recommendations for anyone who is considering making the leap to a fully remote work environment.
1. Create a dedicated workspace.
One thing about offices is that we typically have a dedicated space to ourselves. This is the first thing I suggest figuring out for your adjustment to a remote workspace.
Having a space that is only for work lays the groundwork for achieving focus and setting healthy work-life boundaries (more on this in tip No. 5). It can also help to start discussions with your housemates or family members as well. For me, when I have my large over-the-ear headphones and my ring light on, my family knows that “mommy is on a call” and they will need to get help themselves or ask someone else.
Your workspace doesn’t have to be substantial, but it is important to have one. And if you’re creating your dedicated space in your home, this is the perfect opportunity to make your dreams a reality and get creative with it! We have seen converted closets, dedicated rooms, and even desks in common areas of the home. If you’re tight on space, you can also consider renting a desk at a local coworking space (some employers may even offer funds to cover this cost, so be sure to ask).
2. Gather the necessary equipment.
Employers typically will provide the necessities (e.g., a laptop computer) and sometimes even some nice-to-haves (e.g., a ring light or light cube). It’s worth taking some time to figure out what you need in your dedicated workspace to be effective at your job.
Some items things to consider are:
- An additional monitor or two (some smart TVs can also be used for this purpose)
- Dongles, adapters, cords, and power strips
- Quality noise-canceling headphones
- An upgraded webcam
- A light for video calls
- Additional hardware such as a mouse or ergonomic keyboard
- Sit-stand desk or desk adapter
- Appropriate chair (or exercise ball)
- Scanner or printer
- A lap desk
- A tablet or portable second monitor attachment
- Fidget toys or other accommodations
While you don’t need to have everything on day one, it’s a good idea to identify what you need and prioritize your acquisitions accordingly.
3. Develop a routine.
You likely created a routine at the office without even realizing it. Now you have an opportunity to start fresh and be intentional about it!
Not everyone has the same ideal focus hours, and remote work adjustments can include optimizing your day for your productivity among other things (e.g., family, hobbies, DND campaigns, and yoga class).
If you used to commute, consider starting your day earlier or sleeping in (just don’t be late for any scheduled calls)! Do you tend to fade in the afternoon? Consider taking a midday walk with your dog and coming back reenergized. Have school-age children? Be ready for them after school by shifting work into the evening after bedtime.
Whatever your motivation and schedule, calendar it! Keeping your calendar up to date is a great way to create and maintain your new routine. It will also let your team members know when they can and can’t expect to hear from you about certain things, which will help you to truly be off when you’re off of work. Looking for more info? Check out this day in the life of working at a remote agency, parenting teens edition.
4. Connect with other people.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of never leaving your house, so finding time to connect with people in your life as well as in your new remote job is a great way to combat loneliness.
Offices contain friendships, and one way to keep in touch with former colleagues is to calendar it into your routine. Standing coffee or lunch dates are a great way to be social and keep your cup full. Finding times that you can cowork with friends or flexing hours to attend a child’s field trip are a few other ways to connect.
SmartBug® has been a remote-only company since its inception in 2007, so we’ve had a long time to develop our company culture that includes get-to-know-you calls, in-real-life meetups, remote team yoga, games, coffee chats, and even happy hours. Looking for some tips on creating a dynamic work culture? Here are six tips to build a thriving remote work culture.
5. Maintain healthy work-life boundaries.
When you’re on, be “on,” and when you’re off, be “off.” Communicate with your team and your housemates or family about when you’re working and when you’re not available.
Clear expectations from both parties are a great way to start this off on the right foot. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed in either direction, it’s a great time to reach out to your team and delegate or renegotiate tasks (and the same thing goes for at home).
Setting work-life boundaries doesn’t just magically happen. It takes work! Having a dedicated space and creating focus times that suit your rhythm will also help to reinforce your boundaries.
6. Embrace the flexibility.
You didn’t accept a remote position to be chained to your desk, so take this opportunity to do something unexpected!
I have seen my colleagues do this in a number of ways, including:
- Go to the ocean and work from a remote cabin for a few weeks.
- Travel through South America and pet every single dog on every beach.
- Flex a few hours into the early week to enjoy a Friday afternoon bicycling.
- Go to Prague to visit a friend.
- Work someplace unexpected—maybe a new coffee shop or maybe your backyard.
The remote work adjustment is worth the effort.
For me, the biggest remote work adjustment was No. 4. This adjustment period is going to be different for everyone, and being self-aware and communicating can eliminate virtually all of these concerns. Once you leave the office and embrace remote work, it will be hard to imagine ever going back.
P.S. If you’re looking for an opportunity to work remotely for a company like SmartBug, why not become a SmartBug? That’s right—we’re hiring!