Remote work is only becoming increasingly more popular. According to a study by Deloitte research, almost 75% of millennials say a “work-from-home” or “work remotely” policy is important and 69 percent say having a physical presence in the office on a regular basis is not necessary. A recent Gallup poll reported that 43% of Americans work remotely at least 1 day per week.
However, as the COVID-19 remote work experiment is showing us, remote work can offer a unique set of challenges. Especially when it comes to maintaining a sense of sanity and productivity. We've put together some tips below help you manage a remote work setup.
1. Establish a structure and set boundaries
One of the biggest challenges for remote workers is establishing a sense of structure to your day. Whether you realize it or not - getting into your car every day, going out to lunch with your co-workers, and returning home provide very clear guardrails for your day.
If you're working from home, it can be very tempting to work from your bedroom or from the couch, but doing so is likely to negatively impact your productivity. It also blurs the line between work and personal life - how do you know when it is time to decompress if you work from the same room you sleep in? If you have the space in your apartment, we highly recommend setting up a dedicated work area. This can be a spot at the kitchen table, a dedicated office room, or an area in your living room.
Next - you'll want to make sure you set intentional boundaries about your working hours. While the flexibility of remote work can be great if you have children or other time commitments, you should make sure that remote work doesn't turn into always being "on." You should set clear boundaries with your colleagues on your hours - for example, be sure you're only working normal business hours.
Finally - it is totally possible that you figure out remote work isn't for you, or perhaps it is only good in moderation. If that's the case, talk to your employer to see if you can work from home 1 or 2 days a week and come into the office the other days. Alternatively, you can explore other workspaces outside of your home. Checkout public libraries, coffee shops, and co-working spaces.
2. Set clear goals, priorities, and task management
One of the biggest changes when switching to remote work is the lack of face-time you'll be getting with colleagues and business partners. Whether we realize it or not, success in our professional relationships is something we have to pay particular time and attention to. Many remote-first teams will setup daily or weekly conference calls or scrum emails to ensure that everyone is on the same page about priorities and key deliverables. Some teams will choose to setup a shared task list in tools such as Jira or Asana. It matters less what your method is - what really matters is that you figure out what works best for your team, and you stick to it.
This is especially important for attorneys on in-house legal teams. The business can only move as fast as you do, so you'll want to ensure you stay on top of the business's priorities and ensure that you're hitting business targets and deadlines.
3. Don't forget to socialize
According to The New York Times, the average American spends a little over 30-minutes per day on social communication. Whether it's a day in the office to see your team in person, working out of a co-working space, or making intentional time to see your friends and family, spending time with people is crucial to health and happiness. Working remotely can be super productive, but your productivity will eventually take a hit if you're not prioritizing human interaction.
We recommend being proactive about scheduling activities and tasks that will get you out of the house. If you work from home, consider going to a local coffee shop or library to work. This little extra time you spend to travel back and forth will ultimately result in higher productivity for both you and your team.