A lot of us have had to get used to working remotely and, for many, you might even find that you prefer it this way. Some people find they can get a lot more productive outside of the pressures of the office environment. However, without those pressures, it’s also easy for us to slip into some bad work habits. If you feel like your standards are starting to slip, here are a few ways to make sure you’re able to stay professional, no matter where you are.
Make sure you have a proper routine
When it comes to establishing good work habits, time management should be your number one consideration. If you’re given a flexible schedule, it’s easy to simply work whenever you feel like it or, more dangerously yet, do all your work before the deadline. However, this can only end up worsening your work-life balance and make your work all the more stressful. Try to establish a routine and stick to it, determining what your work hours are, when they finish, and when you are going to take breaks. It’s a lot easier to stay organized when you have a clear divide between what is your professional life and what is your personal life.
Create an appropriate workspace
Our environment greatly influences how we approach and handle our work. To see how true that is, you only need to look at how miserable people can be when working in a cubicle. You might think there are few things comfier than doing your work from your bed, but are you really likely to be motivated and engaged when lying down? Not only can inappropriate work settings influence how productive and efficient you are at your work, but you can also affect your home life negatively. You can start associating parts of the home that should be for rest and relaxation as places that you do work. For that reason, it’s wise to make sure that you have a complete home office.
Make sure that you use professional channels appropriately
A lot of businesses and teams are adapting to a change in how they work and communicate. It can create something of an organic, loosey-goosey approach that seems a lot less formal than the workplace. However, when it comes to professional channels of communication, whether you’re looking into how business analytics is changing healthcare or you’re connecting with customers or you’re speaking to suppliers about better pricing, you must make sure that you switch into work mode. When you’re sending emails or documents, make sure that you’re following the house branding and formatting style with tools like document management software. Resist the temptation to get too informal with your colleagues and, most importantly, any customers or clients you have to get in touch with. It’s important that you’re able to help the business maintain a professional face to help it stay reliable during these odd and stressful times.
Plan out the day ahead
Aside from creating a schedule that determines when you do and don’t work, you should also have a good idea of how you’re going to spend that work time going in. As such, you can help layout the tasks in the day ahead with a to-do list app. With a scheduling app like Google Calendar, you can then lay out the day by breaking it into time blocks that are each dedicated to different tasks. This way, you can make sure that you’re always spending your time in the most productive manner possible. Otherwise, it’s easy for distractions in the home and on the internet to get in the way, or to end up spending too much time in your email inbox when there’s other work to be done.
Make sure distractions don’t rule your life
When in the office, the watchful gaze of your colleagues will keep you mostly on the straight and narrow. However, at home, without supervision, it’s easy to let your attention drift to less productive parts of the home or the internet. Distractions are everywhere, and learning how to block them out is crucial when it comes to remote working. Unless you use your smartphone for your job, you should consider turning it off when working or at least keeping it somewhere out of arm’s reach so that you only go to it when you really need to. Otherwise, there are distraction blocking apps that can make sure that, during business hours, you aren’t stuck trawling the internet for entertainment.
Make sure that you take breaks
Some remote workers have the opposite problem of being too lax and slacking on the job. In fact, some tend to work seven harder when they’re in the home. This can be due to a want to get their work out of the way as soon as possible, or because their work-life balance has blurred to the point that they’re stuck in “work mode” too often. While this might seem like a great way to get a lot of work done, it will lead to burnout sooner or later. You should make sure to schedule breaks for yourself and get away from the work desk when you take them.
It might sound like a pointless endeavor, but you should consider getting dressed in business appropriate attire before you go to work. It might sound tempting to spend the day working in a bathrobe and a pair of sweatpants, but our clothes can very much influence how we feel. We’re not likely to feel like an engaged professional worker when we’re in the most casual of our clothes. You don’t have to go for a full business suit, of course, but make yourself feel professional and presentable and you will be much more likely to engage with your work professionally, as well. Of course, this also means that you’re always ready for a web conference meeting if one is suddenly announced, as well.
Without the prospect of coworkers, managers, and business owners looming over your shoulders, it’s all too easy to relax your work standards a little too much. Hopefully, the points above help you stay professional no matter where you happen to work.
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