Here’s How to Stay Productive When Working Remotely

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the way businesses can operate. A lot of people have transitioned to remote working, and this may be a bit challenging if you had never worked from home before. You may find it hard to stay focused if you have young children or live with other people. 

The pandemic has changed our lifestyle I must say- we can’t let it take over our life, BUT we have to adapt to the new “normal”. 

I know, you may be feeling isolated and missing your colleagues.

I know how this feels- As a freelancer, I’m used to remote working as I can work from home (or from a coffee shop) so I do everything on my own. 

Of course, I love what I do – I manage my own schedule and choose the projects that I want to work on; but, before I started freelancing I thought that I’d find it hard to adapt to this kind of working lifestyle. 

I was used to meeting my colleagues on my way to work or having lunch together. 
But, luckily, we’ve got the internet and we can still connect with our colleagues (even if they live on the other side of the world) and stay productive while working remotely. 
These are some of the strategies that I have implemented myself and that have boosted my productivity. They have also helped me stay connected with other freelancers. 
If you’re a freelancer/business owner and are having a hard time concentrating or managing your remote team, or you’re working for a company but can’t seem to find the hang of the new norm-  read on. 
You’ll realise that you can manage your time more effectively and deliver measurable results from your home office. 
Let’s get to it

1: Set boundaries and realistic goals

Plan out your day the night before so you don’t waste time on the day that you’re supposed to be working. You can either use sticky notes, to-do lists or Google calendar- whichever is most convenient for you. 

It may be difficult sticking to a plan if you’ve just started working from home, or you don’t live on your own.

Make sure to set boundaries and let your family and friends know that you’re working so they don’t call or distract you- just as they wouldn’t bother you when working from the ‘traditional office’, they have to understand that your home office is your new ‘working environment’.  

Also, It may be tempting to scroll through your social media news feeds when working remotely, and this doesn’t let you get any work done. 

Turn off your notifications or consider working in an Incognito browser window, as this ensures that you stay signed out of your social media accounts. 


2: Create "work" triggers for your brain

When you work in an office, your daily routine of preparing helps your brain to get ready for the day. This can also be applied to when you’re working remotely- for example, you can exercise, read the news, prepare breakfast, etc, so you’ll be ready to start the day in a similar way. 

Also, you can work in a separate room so you don’t do any non-work tasks. However, if you don’t have a workspace, you can just either use a fully stocked desk or just a clean part of your kitchen table and use these only during your working hours. This helps tell your brain that it’s where you do your work without being distracted – schedule a separate time to cook, go shopping or do the laundry.


3: Communicate virtually

Schedule meetings with your colleagues and keep each other updated on the issues you encounter and the strategies you implement to solve them. Don’t just talk about business, but stimulate discussions about everyday topics such as family, hobbies, and music.

If you’re a freelancer connect with other business owners working in the same industry as yours. Join Facebook groups and get to know each other via video conferencing, and discuss how you’re both dealing with clients during the pandemic, how quarantine has effected your business, the challenges of entrepreneurship, etc. 

4: Pick a finishing time each day

You might think that working from home offers more flexibility and work-life balance- this is true, but sometimes we can get caught up in our work that we lose track of our time. You know, when you work in an office you stick to a ‘finishing’ time and obviously, you can’t wait to go home and spend time with your family, but when you work remotely, you’re already at home and sometimes we tend to ‘overwork’ too. 

Set an alarm so you’ll know that your workday is coming to an end- if you’re an employee, let your boss know that you can’t work or take calls out of office hours. 

5: Project a professional image

If you’re a new homeworker you might feel excited that you can stay in your pyjamas every day- but, Hadley Freeman mentions that “working in your pyjamas is a lot like working from bed”, and of course your brain will think that it’s time for bed and fuzz out.

I’ve worked and taken calls in my pyjamas and – no, I don’t recommend you do this. You don’t want your clients or colleagues to think that you sound tired, or that you’re working from your bed. You don’t have to wear a suit of course- I choose clothes that are comfortable as pyjamas, but aren’t actually pyjamas – your brain will think that you’re in your ‘work outfit’ and you’ll be more productive. 

There is no doubt that remote working isn’t for everyone. It may be challenging if you’re a new homeworker-  but it can help you acquire new skills and manage your time more effectively if you set realistic goals, stick to your schedule and set up a working space. Remote work helps you assess where your organisation is headed – Focus on the benefits that you can bring to the company and you can successfully adapt to new ways of working.