Thanks to our globally connected digital economy, professionals have more freedom than ever before. Many have decided to “unchain” from the desk, as they find it more productive and/or more desirable to work wherever they wish.
But working remotely doesn’t come without challenges. Remote workers often work longer hours, working during times they would have been commuting. They may also have difficulty disengaging from work because they don’t have the traditional boundaries between personal space and workspace.
Additionally, remote workers may feel it necessary to work harder — either due to a lack of visibility within their company, or due to the pressures of being self-employed. Left unaddressed, these challenges can result in burnout. These tips should help location-independent workers avoid these pitfalls.
1. Articulate Expectations
Discuss the dynamics and practices of remote work with your supervisor and clients. Make sure each party clearly expresses their expectations for how the work should be done. Go over the expected communication practices in detail. For instance, when is it too late at night for communication to occur? This is particularly important when you work in different time zones.
2. Maintain a Proper Work-Life Balance
If you work at home, it can be easy to get distracted by errands or chores. Do your best to put off household tasks until you’ve finished your work for the day. Set clear boundaries that define when you are working and when you are just “at home.” This may include shutting down your computer or turning off your work cell phone during defined hours. If your personal phone is also your work phone, it may just become a practice in self-discipline.
Working outside of a home office can be even more distracting. Take proper precautions to eliminate potential distractions before you start working. And while you’re working, be sure to do your best to limit the time spent on email, social media and websites unrelated to work.
3. Manage Your Time
Without the confines of the office, it’s easy to adopt irregular work habits. You may find yourself working a few hours one day, while pulling an all-nighter the next. While many who pursue location-independent lifestyles often do so to break from routine, establishing a set schedule will aid your productivity — while also helping to maintain that work-life balance we previously discussed.
You can also make efficient use of your time by asking your supervisor or clients to prioritize tasks so you know which are most important; otherwise, you may feel that everything is urgent. And if you have an employer, look for ways to minimize time-consuming administrative tasks like mailing or faxing copies of receipts and other forms.
4. Stay Social
Don’t be “out of site, out of mind.” The nature of remote work can be isolating, so don’t underestimate the amount of communication needed to feel part of your organization. During the onboarding process, introduce yourself to as many people as possible in person or online. Suggest occasional check-ins on an informal social level during conference calls or one-on-one teleconferences. Seek out mentors at your organization’s headquarters, and arrange face-to-face meetings as frequently as possible.
If self-employed, participate in networking events whenever the opportunity arises. Meet with clients in person, and don’t neglect to make use of breaks and time off to get together with friends and family!