Working Remotely: How to do it Successfully

By: Kylie Phillips

Working remotely or working from home is kind of a weird thing to get used to. You’re not in an office building, your co-workers aren’t sitting beside you, and you may or may not be wearing sweatpants. Finding how to best be successful when working remotely will differ for everybody, but here are some basic rules you should follow:


Pick the Right Environment

This is the most important part of working remotely! Trying to be productive in an environment that is not conducive to getting work done will make everything 100x harder. Here are some important factors in picking the correct working environment:

  • Dedicated Space: Is the space you are working in solely for work purposes? If at all possible, try to avoid working in a space that has another purpose, like your bedroom. Working in your bedroom may make sleeping or relaxing more difficult because of work association.
  • Lighting: Having sufficient lighting is crucial. If you’re having to strain your eyes to see your computer screen or keyboard = bad. I find natural light is the best to work in if at all possible. 
  • Comfort: Make sure your work station allows you to sit comfortably while being able to be most productive. For example, sitting at a desk is great, but if your chair is causing you to hunch over all day, you may need to change it up. Conversely, working from a couch or bean bag may be more comfortable, but if it’s hard to hold your laptop or papers beside you it may also not be the best option.
  • Cleanliness: It’s easier to work in a clutterless space. A cluttered environment can make your mind feel cluttered too.
  • Indoor vs. Outdoor: You don’t have to stay cooped up inside! If you have the option to, working outside can make work more fun! Natural light, fresh air, warm sun…sounds like an ideal environment to me!


Pace Yourself

Working straight through the entire day can lead to burn out, FAST. You don’t have to work in robot mode just because you’re not in the office.

  • Eat: Something I’ve found I tend to do is wait until halfway through the afternoon to eat lunch. Just like you would in the office, give yourself a lunch break, and make sure to at an appropriate time. 
  • Give Yourself a Break: If you can feel yourself getting frustrated with a task, or just can’t focus, take a break. Work on a different task for awhile, or even take a few minutes away from your work station to let your mind rest.  


Know What Distracts You

Everyone has different methods for maximum productivity, know yours!

  • Music: Some people say they work better with music on. I’m not one of those people – music is too distracting for me to be productive. I can’t focus on words I’m reading, I start singing along in my head, sometimes I find myself fiddling with Spotify. If you’re like me, it’s best to just turn the music off during work time, or find something (beforehand) that’s relaxing, with lyrics you don’t know or instrumental music. 
  • Background Noise: Sometimes silence can be loud. If you find the silence distracting, find some white noise, like a TV or radio on in another room (you can hear it but can’t make it out). 
  • Other People & Pets: As much as we all love our pets, unless they’re the kind to just lay around while you work, it’s probably best to leave your pets in another area while you work. Additionally, if your family is home it’s probably best to not work in the same room – it’s easy to lose track of time when you’re talking to a loved one!
  • Your Phone: Having your phone on you is absolutely important when working from home. However, it’s also easier to pick it up and start scrolling through social media at home than in an office. I find the best method is to turn your ringer up and set the phone face down and off to the side – out of sight out of mind.


Stay Organized

Organization makes everything easier!

  • Email: It’s ideal to have an email account dedicated to work. If you’re using a personal account, try to keep a folder of all work-related emails. Sifting through important emails, marketing emails, and work emails can drive you nuts. Keeping all work-related documents in one (organized) place will also keep you from losing it.
  • Open Communication: Be sure to let your manager and coworkers know 1) your availability, 2) the best way to keep in contact with you, and 3) when you are online or on a break. Think about it: if you were in the office trying to contact a remote employee, guesswork can be annoying. Don’t be that work from home employee! 

Again, everyone works their best in different ways. These tips will help you find your own unique best workflow. Lastly, focus on the task at hand – not the clock! So many times I find myself focusing on the time, letting it pressure me, when if I focus on what I need to get done – the time moves faster and the day feels much calmer.