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How to Be More Effective When Working Remotely

on 2 May 2018


Posted by Kevin Senior

Whether you work from home all the time, telecommute occasionally, or need to work from hotel rooms during business trips, it is important to have a plan. You want to be able to get plenty accomplished, regardless of where you’re working. Although it may not seem like your location should matter, it can take an effort to convert your usual work strategies to remote work. Here are ways to keep yourself happy and productive.

Mentally Clock In

Showing up in a business office is a mental signal to switch your thoughts over to work. In other locations, you can lack that sort of obvious signal so you will need to create your own. Figure out what could best signal “work time” to you. It could be setting up your computer and filling your coffee mug so you are ready to work. Perhaps your work day normally starts with checking voice mails or emails. That could be a good routine to start when you’re away from the office. 

Be Prompt

There can be so much flexibility and quiet when you’re away from the office, it can be easy to become fully immerse in your work. That’s great for your productivity but it can lead to the tendency to avoid distractions like phone calls or emails. That’s understandable but it can create work issues. Leaving co-workers or other contacts hanging for an hour or two might be a convenience for you but cause them delays and frustration. Not only could it give them the impression that you aren’t actually working, it can mean you miss out on having input at critical times. This could eventually create more work for you or lead others to move your projects or questions lower on their priority list. In addition to frequently checking for messages, use online file sharing to ensure that your documents are updated and ready for others to view. Be sure to also make sure you are paying attention to other project contributions added by others.

Plan Breaks

In your company’s office you probably get up periodically to hike down the hallway to refill your coffee mug, retrieve your mail or printing from a centralized copy room, or visit the water closet. When you work remotely, everything you need might only be steps away. That seems efficient but without taking breaks, your work could suffer. Taking five minutes to walk upstairs or around the block can give you a chance to clear your brain, get your blood flowing, and allow new ideas to come to the forefront of your mind.

Add a View

There is a tendency for people to plan home offices to be free of distractions. Hotel rooms are usually set up the same way. That seems like it would be efficient and being away from the typical distractions can be a huge improvement. At the same time, that overly blank wall you’re staring out may also be dreary. Studies have found people do better if they are working somewhere they can see plants or a view of the outdoors. A house plant on your desk could help with that or you could hang up a photograph of a scenic view you find inspiring. This makes a great place to rest your eyes while you search for inspiration or try to think of a solution to a problem. Simply looking away from the computer for a moment can help improve the quality of your work and help keep you energized and motivated.

Build Relationships

Don’t let the fact that you are working remotely prevent you from developing relationships with people at work or maintaining the ones you already have. In the office, perhaps you’d make time to catch up by the water cooler, bring in treats for the office, or chat with key suppliers on the phone when things are slow. At home, you might use the downtime to take care of something around the house or you could worry the sounds of your kids in the other room will become a distraction. Missing the daily contact with co-workers can make it harder to get cooperation on projects, to find out what is going on elsewhere in the company, or even limit your prospects for promotion. Be sure to reach out on a regular basis to make sure you aren’t out of sight and out of mind.


The high capacity printers in the office can make it easy to print whatever you’re working on for review. At home you might be using your own printer and paper so that may cause you to think twice before you print anything out. That could be wonderful from an environmental standpoint but it could be a missed opportunity. Problems with the document you’ve spent hour preparing might only become obvious when printed. Looking at the hard copy version gives you an important chance to double check your work before you send it on. If printing isn’t a practical option, try printing your document to a pdf to check for problems. If you would normally use a printed copy for reference as you work, consider investing in a second computer monitor to use so you can view both documents at the same time. 



About this author: Kevin Senior

Managing Director at Glasscubes. With over 30 years experience working with businesses of all sizes and industries, Kevin brings success to fast growing companies advising on best practices and growth lead technology solutions.