Working remotely has unique challenges, and for that you need unique solutions. Here are five things I’ve learned that make working from home successful and fulfilling.
1. A space to work
Virginia Woolf wrote about the importance of having “a room of one’s own” in which to write. The same is true for any person who works from home.
You don’t need a whole room, but a dedicated work space is essential.
My space is a 1sq m desk in the corner of my living room. I have it next to a window overlooking my courtyard. I do like to see the weather change.
Not that we get much of that here in Perth. Sunny today and sunny tomorrow… Clouds are an event. Hail and fog are rare, and the 2010 hail storm is still referred to as The Storm.
2. A good internet connection
These days you need good speed and stability for all those cloud-based platforms. You don’t realise how important it is until neither is working…
Make sure you shop around to find the best internet provider in your area. It’s worth paying a little extra to get a faster, more stable connection.
Netflix and YouTube are the banes of my existence. When kids get out of school, my internet speed drops to almost nothing. Netflix-o’clock.
3. Working remotely – you need contact
You need to like your own company. Even with a busy social life, working from home can feel lonely.
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are busy days. We have team meetings, and I check in with other staff via phone and video calls.
Some of us need more social contact than others, so it’s important to find the right balance for you and your co-workers.
4. A clear work routine
The key to staying focused is to know what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it.
It doesn’t matter if you keep a timetable or just a list of jobs – know what you’re doing that day. Keep a time ‘budget’ so that you know how long you spend on each task. Prioritise jobs so that each one gets the time it deserves.
In the morning, I get ready for work as if I’m going to an office. Everything from what I wear to what I eat for breakfast is treated as if I’m going to work.
It’s easy to be distracted at home. There’s laundry to be washed and gardens to be weeded and TV shows to be watched, so that prioritised list is a safeguard.
5. Apps, apps, and more apps
Various software applications make life easier when you’re working remotely. From time keeping to prioritisation, from project management to document sharing – there’s an app for that.
A good CRM is a given. We use Salesforce. You also need a file sharing system that allows multiple people to access what they need – and lets you track who is doing what.
Finding a reliable online meeting app that works with different computers – and multiple operating systems – is a challenge. We’ve used Skype, GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, JoinMe, and Google Hangout. There are many more, and each has their strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, you won’t know what works until you try them.