FORBES Feature: Strategies For Staying Connected And Motivated While Working Remotely
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck the U.S., something unexpected occurred. Companies that railed against remote work suddenly had to keep their workers at home. Even though most offices have been back open for the last couple of years, many people are continuing to work remotely. Unfortunately, a number of them have likely learned that it can be hard to stay motivated and connected when working from home. I've experienced this myself. Here are some strategies I've used—and recommended to my team—for staying motivated and connected when working from home.
Set Firm Remote Work Boundaries
One key benefit of working from home is spending more time with your loved ones. However, it's still important to set firm boundaries. Not only does it help you stay focused on your work, but it also helps save you from burnout. Whether you have children, pets, a spouse or housemates, trying to balance work and your personal life simultaneously can cause both to put pressure on you at the same time.
Here are some tips for creating firm remote work boundaries:
• Create a separate workspace at home. Whether it's an office in a spare room or a partitioned corner in the den, having a dedicated workspace helps you focus on work and signals to others that you're in work mode.
• Dress for work. If you're dressed down in pajamas or lounge clothes, it can be hard for others to recognize that you're working. It can also be harder for you to put yourself into your work mindset. Corollary: Don't stress yourself out over clothes. While you want to dress for work, that doesn't mean you must wear full office regalia. Give yourself room to relax and dress casually. Save the regalia for client meetings.
• Establish a schedule for your work. Even if your remote work doesn't require a set schedule, it's still a good idea to give yourself a schedule anyway. It will help you prioritize your work and personal time. It will also help you establish and maintain boundaries with others while you work.
Stay Connected With Your Remote Work Team
Most of us enjoy remote work because of the flexibility of being able to work at our own pace. This is especially true for self-starters who enjoy working without constant supervision. However, it's still important to keep in contact with your peers, especially when you work as part of a team. Don't have a team? Network with other remote work peers so that you have people to connect to and build relationships with.
Here are some ways you can stay connected:
• Check in regularly. Whether you work for a company or work as a freelancer, check-ins are an important way to stay connected. Proactively checking in with the people you work for or with benefits you in three key ways: You build a stronger rapport with your teammates or clients. You have more opportunities to give and get updates about projects. And you keep your name in front of people who may have more projects or opportunities to offer.
• Make time for chats. Schedule online meetings with your team and set aside a little time for everyone to catch up and chat. Remember, you don't have a break room to meet up in. Giving yourselves time to chat about non-work things helps build rapport and connection.
• Create a non-work channel in your work chat. If you use a platform for planning and communication, such as Slack, make sure that you have a channel set aside for non-work communication. These channels make it fast and easy for you to share funny stories or just keep up with your teammates and co-workers.
In my experience, the most important way to stay motivated and connected is to care for yourself. Most people are stronger, more productive workers when they feel refreshed and alert.
To help you practice good remote work self-care, remember to:
• Manage your workload. Ensure that you organize your work tasks and keep up with your progress and deadlines. Set aside the time you need for projects (especially if you handle multiple projects at a time) so that you don't find yourself pushed up against a deadline.
• Give yourself breaks. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make while working remotely is thinking they must work straight through their day. Give yourself breaks. That includes taking a full lunch break and giving yourself at least one or two smaller breaks throughout the day. When you take the breaks, take a break. Don't take a break from work to put laundry in the washing machine or start dinner; give yourself a few minutes to relax. Remember, work is work, whether it's your remote work or home chores.
• Reward yourself. Set milestones for yourself, from completing a project to checking items off your to-do list, and reward yourself for those milestones at the end of the day. The reward can be anything from an extra break to a special treat. It's a good way to recognize your hard work and boost your confidence.
Remote work can be a rewarding experience. By working on your professional relationships, establishing and maintaining work boundaries, and taking time to care for yourself, you can create a positive remote work environment that builds a strong business and team.