Nowadays, remote work can be the answer to finding the perfect balance between personal life goals and professional ambitions. However, achieving it in a truly productive way requires a lot of planning and discipline.
In this post, we’ll tell you all about this global trend and give you some practical advice on how to achieve high productivity levels while working from the comfort of your own home.
What the studies say
According to the Future Workforce Report 2018 recently published by Upwork, nearly 63% of companies in the US today have remote workers. Employees aren’t the only ones who benefit from working from home; a company can benefit just as greatly by cutting costs, increasing productivity levels, and reducing turnover.
In fact, the authors of this study go as far as to say that companies that refuse to support this trend risk losing their best people and turning away tomorrow’s top talent. Furthermore, over half of hiring managers who responded agree that remote work has become more commonplace than it was three years ago, and in the next 10 years, they predict that 38% of their full-time employees will work predominantly remotely.
The Global State of Remote Work released by OWL Labs says that employees who work remote at least once a month are 24% more likely to feel happy and productive in their roles.
And why do people (and especially young professionals) find this idea so appealing? The number one reason might not be what you think: only 14% of respondents identified work/life balance as their main motivation.
What really drives people to want to work remote is that they find this way, they can be more productive and better focused. But, like we said before, this is way easier said than done.
Currently, companies that belong to the software industry have plenty of experience working remotely. In my case, I’ve learnt a lot about this subject from my experience working at UruIT, a software development outsourcing company that relies on remote work for delivering its services to its US clients. In this post, I’d like to share some of my learning points on the matter!
- Communication is key for remote work success
When compared to the global average, South America has 81% more fully remote companies and people from this region are 67% more likely than the average to always work remote.
Taking this information into account, it’s safe to say that communication is a key element for understanding how remote work operates. And even though communicating in the 21st century doesn’t seem at all complex, there are a few things to take into account.
Even if you’re working from home or traveling solo, don’t do it completely alone. Involve your team, meet as many times as necessary before leaving the office, and stay open to all the opinions and suggestions they give you. The most important thing is that you get the chance to listen to your coworkers’ ideas, doubts, fears and recommendations regarding your remote work.
As for communication tools, there are plenty you can choose from. Zoom and Skype are great options to make video calls without major inconveniences. They both have the advantage of having a connection that is quite stable and functional for calls that require more than 30 minutes and the participation of more than three people.
Of course, it can become difficult to video chat all the time. That’s when Slack becomes a great alternative to keep in touch. However, to make it work, it’s vital to pay attention to notifications and try to respond as soon as possible.
2. Look for the right workspace and technology
Needless to say, it’s essential to find a place to work with an excellent internet connection at all times and have the right equipment to take calls (camera, microphone, and headset).
Even if you switch location from time to time, it’s important to find at least one place that is peaceful and quiet so you can concentrate and avoid distractions.
Another detail to take into account is the use of your laptop. Considering that you will be saving a lot of files, it’s very likely that your machine will begin to slow down, making it difficult for you to move at your normal work pace.
But don’t worry. There’s a pretty simple solution for avoiding this problem: use cloud storage! Dropbox, for example, offers secure cloud storage plans with features like file recovery and version history, so you’ll never accidentally lose a file or project again.
Dropbox offers a rather measly 2GB of free storage, but this can be increased up to 16GB free of charge by linking your Dropbox to social media and referring friends to join the service.
If you’re an Android user, you might find Google Drive to be a natural choice as its already integrated with those devices. And the best part is that it offers up to 15 GB of free storage.
On the other hand, Apple offers only 5GB for free to backup your Mac and iPhone to iCloud. Even if it’s not going to be enough space, compared to its rivals, iCloud’s prices are very reasonable: 50 GB for $0.99 a month.
3. Set your boundaries
Make sure to set standards and boundaries to remain focused. This goes for yourself as well as the people who surround you on a daily basis. Like we said before, maintaining high productivity levels while working remotely can be tricky.
One of the biggest perks of working from home is that you could potentially stay in bed in your pajamas all day. Even if the idea may sound tempting, it’s actually counterproductive. When you don’t physically get out of bed and change out of the clothes that you’ve slept in, it’s harder to convince your brain that the workday has officially started.
Another common mistake that remote workers make is getting distracted easily, for example, with social media or chat apps. If you can’t help to get caught up online, try Freedom. This app locks you out of social media and certain websites so you can stop multitasking and get things done.
However, there’s a limit on the flip side that shouldn’t be crossed either. When you work remotely, it can be difficult to separate your work life from your personal and home life.
That being said, it’s important that you take the time to turn off your devices (and your head!) at the end of the day. Let your co-workers know that you’ve “left the office” and don’t get tempted to check your email one last time at 11 pm.
When you don’t set these types of boundaries and take the time to disconnect from the job, you’ll be more likely to lose steam and burn out faster.
Finally, take the time to explain your work arrangements to your friends and family. Educating them on how you work remotely will reduce distractions and help you achieve amazing productivity levels!
Today, working remotely is at the foundation of many software development companies. Carrying it out with planning and teamwork is the best way to achieve great results. As we stated before, it’s possible to work in this manner without affecting your team’s workflow and objectives.
Nevertheless, even in the projects under agile methodology, we must always be open to changes and unexpected events.
In order to be productive, it’s essential to rely on the best technology and communication tools. Get your priorities straight and shut yourself off from distractions.
As I found out in my experience, unexpected changes will happen but your ability to sort them out will make you grow both professionally and personally.
Happy remote working!