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Last Updated on May 13, 2022

How to Work Remotely (Your Complete Guide)

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How to Work Remotely (Your Complete Guide)

With unpredictable pandemics like COVID-19, many people are finding it difficult to get out and go to work, build an income, and provide for a family. This has caused many people to look into how to work remotely. Other reasons that people seek remote work opportunities may include long commutes, increased traffic, or limited local job opportunities.

When it comes to working remotely, there is a lot more to it than you might think. First, you need to know how to work remotely, as its involves many changes if you’re coming from a standard job.

There is also staying productive and making a profit, too. With more people indoors and not working, people are going to be more conservative with their money. With these things in mind, here is a guide to help you get on track and address these issues.

Benefits of Working Remotely

Some may think this isn’t an efficient way to operate a company. But I believe that this is the new norm of work. Working remotely does have its cons, but there’re a lot more advantages when you know how to work smart.

Here’s why you should start to work remotely:

You Get More Done

Shorter commutes, private office, flexible work hours. This all leads to less time wasted, more productive work hours, and increased happiness among employees.

In 2013, Stanford University conducted a study by randomly assigning employees at a call center to work from home and others to work in the office for nine months. The result was a 13% performance increase by those working from home, of which 9% was from working more hours.[1]

People criticize working remotely because they find it difficult to measure the number of hours their employees are working. What they forget is that going into the office does not equal productive work.

“Office workers are interrupted–or self-interrupted–roughly every three minutes.”  –  The Wall Street Journal

In fact, once thrown off, it can take over 23 minutes for a worker to retrieve focus on their original task.[2]

Give people the freedom to work where they want and begin to re-think the 9-5 working style. By adopting a culture of trust and respect, you’re empowering individuals to not just show up, but to show results.

You Work with the Best Talents Around the World

We hear it over and over again: always work with the best people. It’s inevitable that more and more skilled workers will adapt to a remote working lifestyle.

If you can embrace the remote working lifestyle too, then you’re likely to be working with talents around the world. You will be able to broaden your horizon and who doesn’t like to work with and learn from the smart people?

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It’s Never Been Easier

The good news is that it’s now easier than ever to coordinate the work of individuals from around the world. As long as you have access to a laptop and the internet, there are hundreds of tools that have been created to make the process seamless.

You can find more pros and cons of working remotely here.

How To Get a Remote Job?

The first big question to address is how to work remotely in the first place. As mentioned, getting your first gig is unlike traditional job hunting. In today’s gig economy, there are a lot of platforms that you can consider, which are filled to the brim with other applicants.

No longer are you competing with people within your business or your city, but across the globe.

This makes it necessary to have a new kind of skill set. You need to look beyond a resume and filling out application after application. Instead, you want to be looking at how you can better market yourself, how you can be more creative, as well as how to deliver something people are willing to pay for.

1. Market in the Right Place

When you think about job hunting, you begin to think of the traditional job posting sites: places like Monster, Indeed, and LinkedIn. There are other sites like this that even have a section devoted solely to remote work.

But places like these are the worst place to be looking. Why? Because a lot of the freelance or remote work on those sites are usually location-specific. That, or they require some in-person contact or are questionable businesses in the first place.

Either way, it’s better if you’re focusing more on continuous gigs from multiple clients rather than applying for full-time jobs while working at home. There are a lot of sites that can help with that. Ryan Robinson created a lengthy list of sites that post remote gig work that’s worth checking out.[3]

From there, it’s a matter of building up your portfolio. This can be difficult at first, but plenty of remote job posting sites can provide you with tips and tricks. Your profile on these sites also works similar to a resume.

2. Get People to Buy

The second important bit regarding how to work remotely is getting people to buy what you’re selling. If you’re in the right place, the next thing is to attract people. Naturally, people aren’t going to be coming to you in droves right away.

That being said, there are plenty of ways for you to build up your profile. A lot of it comes down to the skills that you have and how you showcase them.

Now, you have a lot of skills in your arsenal, but you want to be focusing on ones that close sales. For example, if you are someone who can finish work fast and maintain quality, that’ll be more appealing as clients can give you a larger workload or be confident that when they ask for some work, you can get it done fast.

This skill highlights one big thing that people care about and are willing to pay for: someone that they can trust.

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Conveying that in a portfolio is difficult at first, but when you start getting work, and people are leaving reviews about your speed and reliability, people will begin to see that you are someone they can trust to get work done.

You also have skills that go behind the scenes. These don’t contribute to your output directly, but they could lead you to more clients.[4]

One trait that’s mentioned is having a place dedicated to your work and where you can focus. This can help you increase your speed and productivity, as it’s a place where you can really dig in to what’s in front of you.

This can lead to people buying more from you because you have created a system for yourself to enter a state of mind where you can work without interruptions.

How to Work Remotely Effectively

As you begin working and getting clients, the next biggest challenge is staying productive. Like I mentioned above, having a place where you can focus will help you in staying productive, but oftentimes people need more than that.

For example, having a place where you can put out a lot of work is great, but what if your pickings are slim? Or maybe you’re not a huge fan of sifting through job postings?

Having a place where you can focus is good, but it might not help you to feel motivated to do parts of the work you don’t want to do.

When it comes to learning how to work remotely, there are times where you’ll have to do work that you don’t want to do, and there will be times when work comes slowly. During those times, you need to have ways to stay productive. Here are some suggestions to help.

1. Set Regular Goals

One of the biggest challenges with how to work remotely is the fact that you need to set your own goals. When you’re going to work for a company, you already have your duties outlined.

That’s not the case when you are the one setting your own hours and acting as your own boss. That difference can be mentally shocking despite it being so obvious.

Because setting goals and working towards them is challenging for many people, some people give up on goals quickly or self-sabotage. They run into one problem and lose all motivation.

With this in mind, you want to be setting goals on a regular basis. You can think of it like a schedule. For this many hours, you want to be doing a specific task. Or maybe you want to structure it as a to-do list and schedule your time according to the tasks that need to get done.

Whatever the case is, setting goals or having a plan in place allows you to set markers that you can work towards. This is a system that works because businesses do this all the time through the duties and responsibilities in each position. They’re the ones setting the markers that you are working towards.

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2. Create an Ideal Work Space

Let’s go into more detail about what a productive home office space looks like and why it can be effective.

First, you want to make sure that this space isn’t in your bedroom. Many remote employees work from their bed, and it’s bad for several reasons.[5]

The biggest reason comes down to how we are programmed. When you are lying in bed, the brain is programmed to go to sleep. If you try rewiring your brain to think staying in bed is “going to work,” it’s difficult for your brain and your body to get into that mode.

You want to make sure that the area you are going to feels like you are “going to work.” Even though work is only a few footsteps away, that’s enough time for you to tell your brain, “I’m going to work now.”

With this in mind, you want your space to be ideal for working. Make sure that the space is clean, has a great internet connection, and has a simple background for video calls. You want to make sure the area feels like an office or a place where you can get things done.

3. Keep a Routine

The first thing that goes out the door when you start working remotely is a regular routine. Forget dressing up for work, catching the subway at 8 AM every morning, and leaving the office at 5.

If you’re not careful, this lack of routine can lead to inefficiency and a lack of productivity. I advise putting together a regular routine that can help you maintain your workflow. It could mean waking up at the same time every morning and going for a workout in the evening after work.

It may sound ironic, but having a stable routine in place sets you free.

4. Focus on Your Energy, Not Time

When you’re working remotely, it’s hard to know how much time you’re spending on work. There’s no one beside you that’s taking a lunch break or leaving the office early to trigger your brain to wind down.

I’ve certainly had this issue many times over, where it’s hard to unplug from work when you’ve got a lot on your plate. Research has shown that productivity tends to drop after a certain number of working hours (this varies from person to person), creating a diminishing effect.

To increase our productivity, we must focus on our energy, not our time. The easiest way to do this is to figure out when you’re the most productive or have the most energy and do your most important work during those time slots.

For me, I do all of my writing in the morning, as that’s when I feel the most creative.

5. Find Your Community

Working remotely doesn’t mean you have to be stuck alone in your room. In fact, we encourage you to get out.

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There’s a rapidly growing community of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and other remote workers that are gathering all around the world. You can check out communities like Digital Nomads World or NomadList, which helps connect digital nomads and virtual workers in-person.

You can also check out local co-working spaces in your city in order to connect with other virtual workers or entrepreneurs.

6. Seek For Regular Feedback

Since there’s no opportunity to run into a co-worker in the “break” room, it’s harder to strike up a casual conversation or feedback session. But without feedback, there’s no communication. And without communication, there’s no progress.

Every team culture is different, so I can’t tell you what level of frequency will work for you, but most of the questions can be answered by simply experimenting for yourself. Simply be active in scheduling feedback sessions with your co-workers.

7. Take Breaks

When working remotely, you get to set your own hours. While that sounds great, this is something a lot of remote workers forget about.

You’d think that working at home is luxurious, but in reality, a lot of freelancers overwork themselves. It’s not out of the ordinary for freelancers to work exceedingly more time than those working a typical 40-hour workweek.[6]

With that in mind, be sure that you are pacing yourself. Take breaks, and get away from your office space once in a while. Even with a virus flying around, you can still get outside or walk around your home or apartment.

Not only is this good for your own sanity, but it can also be a productive tool as well. Our bodies aren’t built to continuously put out work without stopping, and even if we’re in a comfy chair, we can still feel drained by the end of the day if we attempt this.

By taking some regular breaks at your own pace, you can boost your productivity, especially if you are incorporating stretching and other activities that bring you energy. If you have trouble remembering to step away for a moment, use time tracking apps to remind you.

You can find more work from home productivity tips here: How to Work From Home: 13 Tips to Stay Productive

Final Thoughts

Working remotely isn’t as glamorous as it’s made out to be. You need to create systems and habits for yourself that not only will get you clients, but keep you productive and content in your position.

Now may be as good a time as any to see if this can work for you. Even though most people are out of a physical job, the gig economy could present opportunities for people to stay afloat during these hard times.

Featured photo credit: Paige Cody via unsplash.com

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Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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