If being able to work from anywhere—yes, anywhere—sounds appealing (and why wouldn’t it?), working remotely is definitely worth looking into in 2019. It’s not all about working in your pajamas, though that’s also a plus. The modern world of remote work can open doors for travel, living in different parts of the world, and making your dream job work for you regardless of where you live. Almost a third of the American workforce is now working remotely four to five days a week, according to a recent national poll. (And 43 percent reported that they work remotely at least some of the time.) Wondering how to work remotely? We’ve got you covered.
Let’s dig into the benefits of having an anywhere office, how you might go about making the leap, and how to work remotely in a way that actually works. I.e., effectively.
The Benefits of Working Remotely
The rising popularity of going remote isn’t surprising given the list of benefits researchers are increasingly associating with workers who ditch the office. The number one pro? Increased productivity (a personal favorite of ours).
Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom conducted a two-year long study where he compared the productivity of employees at a company in China. He split 500 employees into two groups: Employees who volunteered to work at home vs. those who stayed at HQ. He found an astounding productivity boost among the remote workers. (Why? Part of it is logistical. When you’re not wasting time on your commute, you’re more likely to put in a full day’s work.)
As a bonus, there’s also evidence that going remote has health benefits. One survey conducted in 2014 found that 82 percent of remote workers reported lower stress levels. Need we say more?
How to Work Remotely
Okay, so being a digital nomad sounds pretty awesome. But how can you actually start working remotely?
1. Get your boss on board
To start your office-free work, step one is getting your boss to buy in. In other words, you need to know how to negotiate working remotely. It might take a little work, but the benefits of working from home are compelling enough that it’s worth it. Follow the below tips to make this way easier.
- Boost your value. Before you even approach your boss, assess your value to the company. Going remote is a major perk, so build a case for why you’ve earned it before starting a conversation.
- Address their fears. Your boss will likely be worried that going remote will mean they’ll barely ever hear from you. But evidence on remote work suggests it’s actually the opposite. A review of worker feedback from an investment firm presented in the Harvard Business Review found that remote workers are actually more engaged with their co-workers. Bring the data with you to be even more convincing.
- Talk about a trial. If your boss is unsure, offer to try remote life for just a month. If it goes well, you’ll talk about making it a permanent situation. (This is also a good idea for you—if you’ve never worked remotely before, it’s a smart way to make sure it’s for you.)
- Present a plan. Take all of this information to your boss in a formal presentation to show them you take this seriously and they should too.
2. Make a productivity plan
It’s one thing to have permission to go remote; it’s another thing entirely to know how to work remotely effectively.
Even though remote work has been shown to boost productivity, it still comes with distractions. When your office is also your home, it’s insanely convenient—best commute ever—but it also means that your office is technically your couch. And your bed. And just about every other distraction you can think of. To stay on task, you need a productivity plan. Luckily, we have one for you.
- Set office hours and stick to them. Just because you can go to a yoga class any time of day or go grocery shopping before the after-work rush, doesn’t mean you should.
- But remember to schedule in breaks. Research shows taking short breaks at work (think: 15 minutes) helps you make decisions, boosts creativity, and restores motivation and focus. Without the chance to grab a casual coffee with your coworker, you’ll have to be more deliberate about your breaks.
- Get dressed. Working from your pajamas really does sound like a dream—but it can also be demotivating. Help your brain stay in work mode by getting ready in the morning just like you would if you were going into an office.
- Eliminate distractions. When you’re procrastinating on a deadline, you’d be surprised how tempting your list of chores seems. To avoid doing laundry when you should be preparing your presentation, put yourself in a distraction-free environment, which might mean posting up at a coffee shop.
- Stock up. If your home is going to be the office where you’ll be your most productive professional self, treat it like a professional workspace. Make sure you have reliable internet (for all of those video calls), office supplies (i.e., printer), and healthy snacks.
3. Maintain your work-life balance
You might find yourself falling into another trap if your home is also your office: You suddenly work all the time. One major benefit of commuting is that you typically have to leave the office at a certain time of day. When you work from home, and can park it in one spot all day, it’s easy to put in a lot of after-hours work. Here’s how to work remotely without losing your balance.
- Create a designated workspace. Ideally, this is an office where you can shut the door. (That helps block out distractions during the day and helps block out work stress after you’ve signed off.) But if you don’t have a home office, you can still create a dedicated space. Find a small desk rather than work at your kitchen table, or look into local coworking spaces.
- Establish a routine. When you work in an office, routines often create themselves (you wake up, workout, shower, grab breakfast, head to the office, power through your to-do list, and finally leave in time to catch your usual train home). In a remote work situation, your schedule can get a lot fuzzier, which means “me time” often falls through the cracks. Set up a routine just like you would if you were going into an office, building the things that help you recharge (like a HIIT class or dinner with friends) into your daily calendar.
- Turn off notifications. When we connect with coworkers mostly online, it can be easy for people to think they can reach you anytime. When you’re outside of your established working hours, turn off notifications on your phone. They can wait until morning when you’re back at your desk.
To sum it all up…
Remote working can have a lot of benefits including boosting your productivity while reducing your stress levels and allowing you to feel satisfied in your job (the trifecta of work wins).
If you’re curious about how to work remotely:
- Start by talking to your boss.
- Create a plan for staying on task.
- Design your home office to support work-life balance.
Your turn: Are you a digital nomad? Tell us what you know about how to work remotely in the comments.
Want more ways to be a powerhouse on the job? Check out these 7 ways to be successful at work.
Author: Macaela Mackenzie
Macaela Mackenzie is a freelance writer and content strategist. When she doesn’t have her nose in a research journal or the New York Times, she’s likely to be found looking for punny greeting cards or an excuse to explore a new travel spot.