Most of us nowadays would never think to leave home without our smartphones safely tucked into our pockets, or packed into our handbags along with all the other essentials of urban survival. Laptop bags and device-friendly briefcases can be seen all over the place as well, not to mention the rapid increase in the number of various devices readily available for public use at places like cafes, copy shops, post offices, libraries, and the like.
Whatever your particular preference may be, the ability to work remotely is quickly being established as the new norm of any successful business, and for very good reason. You can read more about the remote working (r)evolution at this link: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/future-technologies/evolution-of-remote-working/
However, as convenient as it may be, the practice of working remotely comes with its own set of unique challenges for employees to overcome. It presents a fair few hurdles to consider, such as restructuring our time management, making sure we are properly connected to the people we are remotely working for or with, and tumbling the very place where we actually work upside down. To help fellow remote workers in all areas cope with their unique environment, we gathered four essential strategies to incorporate into your professional arsenal.
Make sure your connectivity is reliable.
This is the very obvious no-brainer requirement, of course, but it cannot be stressed enough – you need to make sure you are connected no matter what. Things like power outages or your Internet dying on you can completely derail your work flow, and they can happen for a wide variety of reasons: from your provider facing a local issue, through freak weather interfering with power supplies, to a sleazy neighbor trying to leech electricity and messing it up for the entire residential unit. Therefore you need to ensure some back up plans.
Your smartphone is the most obvious emergency fix. Go for a plan with extra data available, so that you have a way of connecting to your work, at a reasonable bandwidth, independently of your wi-fi situation. If at all possible, base your work files somewhere in the cloud, so that you can always access the latest versions even if your primary device goes haywire in any way.
Consider investing in a mobile router, so that you can bring your connection with you to a coffee shop or local park, if you should ever need to get out of the home for a while. Another possibility to consider is having a back up Internet provider, in case you encounter any hiccups with your primary.
Turn your private work space into a comfy nook.
Yes, you read right: make it comfy. Traditional desks and rigid chairs are only bearable to a degree, especially if you share your space with family or roommates, as it tends to get noisy. Although it would be ideal to single out a separate quiet room for your work area, that is impossible more often than not. Therefore, to minimize stress during your work day, consider alternatives like sofas, couches, beanie bags, pillow forts etc.
Strive to build and maintain a comfortable space where you will not mind spending the entire day. The goal is to minimize, if not eliminate, distractions, and reduce the impact your setting will have on your health, e.g. relieve eye strain from your computer.
Take a better look at what you are looking at.
Believe it or not, the view beyond your device screen impacts your productivity even if you are not looking directly at it. This one point is probably the greatest advantage of remote working: the total freedom to choose just the right spot.
Different types of work will require exposure to different types of scenery. Take some time to experiment and see what works best for you.
In general, a view of the outdoors is relaxing, comforting, and subtly stimulating, which makes it the ideal background for brainstorming sessions and cooking up creative solutions. After all, there is a reason why we automatically turned towards the nearest window when we daydreamed in school.
On the flip side, setting up your desk or seat so that you are facing a dull old white wall is an excellent way of brutally cutting down on distractions. Limiting your view to an empty surface forces you to focus on what is in front of you. This type of set up works best when you need to concentrate on some tedious activity or when there is an urgent, high-pressure task that you have to deal with.
Filter the surrounding sounds to match your goals.
In the not-so-distant past, taking your papers and calculators with you to a park or diner might have earned you some disapproving sideways glances. Mixing work and social life was lousy manners at best.
Thankfully, in our modern day and age, you can just BYOD anywhere at any time, and no one will think anything of it. In fact, you will quite likely be hailed as a successful adult who have their things together so well that they can even bring their work with them to dinner and not lose pace with either.
There is a certain study which has identified 70dB as the optimal level of background noise for boosting performance levels on creative tasks, and you can read more about it at this link. This is the moderate racket that you would encounter in a typical café; therefore, if you need some kind of surround sound while you work, feel free to base yourself in a local coffee shop, or use one of the many online services which offer playlists geared towards that particular ambience.
On the flip side, if you need to make a business call or such, do all you can to create a quiet environment for that amount of time. Things like café music, hectic traffic, or home appliances will spell murder for both your communication and your aura of professionalism.