After 3 years as a fully remote company, my team figured out how to work from home right.
In 2019 Airtasker released a survey of 1000 full-time workers, half of whom worked as part of a fully remote team. The results showed remote workers are more focused, live healthier lives and are generally more productive (losing 27 minutes per day on distractions as opposed to 37 minutes in the office).
For those just starting to work from home, voluntarily or involuntarily, this might come as a surprise: offices are supposed to be optimized for you to focus, whereas home is a place of relaxation with a plethora of pleasant distractions.
According to Airtasker, the most effective ways for remote employees to stay productive were take breaks (37%), have set working hours (33%) and keep a to-do list (30%).
Here are a few more useful tips:
It’s all about your daily routine
When my husband and first switched to remote work the one thing that sabotaged our days was a lack of consistency – starting work at 6AM one day and 8AM the next, switching from the couch to a dining chair, giving in to the post-lunch naps and guilting ourselves into working late hours. It was impossibly hard. Through trial and error we’ve taught ourselves the art of consistency — in work schedule, workplace, daily activities and breaks. Having established rules and rigidly enforcing them was the key to maximizing our productivity.
Don’t be a hermit in a fully remote company
You have to leave the house. Now you’re saving time not commuting you might as well stop looking for reasons not to go jogging. Did you know that remote employees exercise 25 minutes per week longer than office workers? I work out every day, right before lunchtime. Whether it’s running, climbing, the gym or yoga every member of our team has their favorite physical activity and we keep each other accountable. It is very easy to start feeling cooped up and claustrophobic in your own home, which is the last thing you want.
Mind your own Feng Shui
Make sure to set up a proper work spot for yourself at your home. Ensure it is separated from your favorite sofa and in general, is as isolated from the rest of your apartment as possible. That way, even a short break for a glass of water will feel like a real break from work. Try establishing your favorite parts of the house as your “reward” space, where you read a quick chapter or check social media after a task is done.
Dress as if you are going to the office
This might sound like a weird one but dressing in your ‘work’ clothes helps increase productivity. We started doing so because we wanted to establish our own, more elevated remote workplace culture, for us and for our clients. Not only did it help with our brand image it also increased our team’s focus. Everyone’s favorite joke about wearing a suit on the top and jammies on the bottom only works for an occasional “phew I wasn’t really expecting that call” when on vacation. For the majority of remote working hours it’s pretty toxic.
Remote work is all about people
Working remotely makes it very hard to build strong team bonds, quickly solve conflicts and have efficient discussions. Therefore successful remote teams always double down on putting people first in their culture — if you want to make it work, you have to try way harder to create bonds with your teammates. As a result, fully remote company is more bonded than office. What helps us are weekly- and bi-weekly team meetings with cameras on for all of them, non-work related Slack channels, “global happy hours” when we can sit down together with drinks, random postcards from different sides of the world sent to each other — and in general, just being creative about showing each other appreciation.
When the day looks very busy and you can’t seem to find time for long exercise breaks make sure to add a few short (10-15 minute) workouts for an energy boost. For example, our Head of Operations Olga is a big fan of finger yoga and simple neck exercises. Never forget to take care of yourself and give yourself some peace of mind!
You don’t have to be alert all the time
In a fully remote company, do not feel you must instantly respond to all Slack messages and emails. When in the office you’d choose not to interrupt a colleague focussed on a task or in conversation with another team member. In a remote environment it’s impossible to know what others are currently doing. Do not let piling messages make you anxious and be sure to only check messages as and when you have completed the task at hand. This will improve productivity and ensure each new task has your undivided attention.
Matt Mulenweg, CEO of Automattic – the largest fully remote company in the world with over a 1000 employees – uses the Slack delayed messaging feature whenever he wants to share his thoughts over the weekend or needs to communicate with someone in a different time zone. If your colleagues are not as respectful make sure to defend your personal space yourself.
If working from home last week turned out to be way more appealing that you imagined, perhaps it’s time to consider looking for a full time remote gig. We’ve assembled some tips on how to nail your first remote interview in this article.
As brilliant as it is working remotely does also have some very specific downsides — I covered them in this post about launching Wunderdogs as a remote creative agency. It’s definitely worth a read before leaving your office life forever.