For those of us long accustomed to working remotely, the events of March 2020 produced merely a ripple in our normal daily work lives; even if kids and spouses were home with us, we already had our remote work routines settled. But the onset of the pandemic was a seismic change for millions of workers whose routines revolved around reporting to a physical office for work. Almost overnight, the number of remote workers in the U.S. tripled.
While most initially struggled to adapt to the challenges of working remotely, after several months of the new routine many workers began to see the benefits. Since that time, the majority of workers sent home to work during the pandemic have expressed the desire to continue working remotely—and the percentage of remote workers with this desire has continued to increase.
The work context of the pandemic provided a wake-up call for business executives as well. Many leaders had long resisted remote work arrangements, believing that remote workers would be less productive. Instead, after a brief adjustment period, they found that their newly-remote workforces were as productive as they had been in an office environment, and in many cases, productivity increased.
In response, some business leaders decided to take advantage of the savings they could achieve by closing the office and moving to a fully remote work model. Others adopted hybrid models, where employees work in a downsized office only one or two days per week. Many companies are still sorting out their plans. But overall, more than twice as many employees are working fully remotely today compared to the beginning of 2020.
One thing is clear: Remote work isn’t going away; it is part of the new normal and is now a prominent and growing mode of work. As companies continue to refine their work models, they must contend with questions such as “What does remote work mean for our company and our employees?” They must also grapple with the challenges of working remotely, such as maintaining employees’ sense of connection to the company and work colleagues when no one is working in a shared physical space. This article will be an overview of the pros and cons of working remotely, with tips for the best practices and technology for building an effective remote work model.
Table of Contents
- What does working remotely mean?
- Where to Find Jobs Working Remotely
- Benefits of Working Remotely
- Challenges of Working Remotely
- Best Technology for Working Remotely
- Managing Remote Teams
- Tips for Working Remotely
- The Best Home Office Equipment
What does working remotely mean?
Remote work means something different depending on the context. Here are the three meanings of remote work I’ve come up with based on the situation:
- For the employee: An employee working away from a centralized, physical workplace.
- For the company: A fully remote company is one that has no physical office locations nor headquarters. All daily interactions between employees take place over the internet (virtually).
- For self-employed people: Income can be generated from anywhere with a virtual connection (internet or phone)
The other distinction I’d like to make is that “working remotely” is not synonymous with “working from home.” The definition of “work from home” is implied – you work from your house only, and it could represent your work for that day only (like when you have a cold). “Remote work” suggests a way of working where there isn’t a centralized office for work and work can be done from anywhere (at home or while traveling).
There are also a number of hybrid work situations—companies where some employees work remotely all of the time while others work in an office, or where some or all of the employees work away from the office several days per week. While these companies may have a physical office, like fully remote companies they face the same need for virtual workspaces to keep everyone on track. So for the purposes of this article, when we use the term “working remotely,” our meaning is that this applies to all businesses where some or all of the workers are working remotely some or all of the time by design—not the ad hoc situation of an employee doing work from home for a few days because they have a sick child or other conflict.
Where To Find Jobs Working Remotely
As remote work has become more common, so have the options for finding remote work (and recruiting remote workers). While job search platforms like Indeed and ZipRecruiter feature job listings for remote work, there are several dozen job boards exclusively focused on remote and freelance jobs.
The most notable boards oriented toward jobs working remotely are these:
- Flexjobs: The best – and the biggest – with more than six million monthly site visits
- We Work Remotely: The site traffic is about a third of that of Flexjobs, but the focus is specific to remote work only
- Remote.co: Attracting just over a million monthly site visits, Remote.co is another job board specifically focused on remote work with lots of traction
Every Remote Job Board That Matters | Where—And How―To Find Remote Jobs
Benefits of Working Remotely
Remote work offers benefits to both employees and employers. Among the most widely recognized benefits of working remotely for employees are these:
- No more daily commute, saving time, money, and stress
- More time for family and friends
- More flexible schedule accommodates personal errands and tasks
Employers also benefit in these ways:
- Happier employees, who are more likely to stay with the company
- Elimination or reduction of costs for office space and supplies
- Increased talent pool, with access to workers anywhere in the world
These examples only scratch the surface in regard to the benefits of working remotely; we’ve compiled a more exhaustive list here.
40 Benefits Of Remote Work I’ve Experienced
Challenges of Working Remotely
For all its benefits, there are also challenges to working remotely. Most of these revolve around communication, staying on track, and fostering connection and culture. All of these are harder to manage with a distributed workforce. Among the most important:
- Good communication between managers and remote employees, and among employee team members
- Inspiring a sense of belonging and shared purpose in a group that never interacts in person
- Accommodating different work styles
These are just a few of the challenges of working remotely; you’ll find more of them in the article below.
36 Challenges Of Working Remotely
Best Technology for Working Remotely
Though communication in the digital world is different than in a physical office, there are technology solutions to address every need.
I ran a fully marketing company for six years, and these were the exact tools we relied upon for each area and purpose of the business:
Email, Documents, Storage
- Document creating, sharing, editing
- Team file/folder structure
- Cloud document storage
- Instant messaging
- Group chats (channels)
- Tool integration and automation
- Team planning boards
- Tasks & notifications
- Team collaboration
- Document sharing
- Career pages
- Promotion to job boards
- Hiring funnels
- Team collaboration/feedback on applicants
- Applicant assessments
- Documents (W2s, 1099s, employee docs)
- State taxes (US)
- Employee benefits
- Time tracking, time off management
- Employee onboarding
- Accounting software integration
- International contractor payments
- Accounting software integration
- Video meetings
- Video recordings (asynchronous)
- Business phone number
- Virtual phone system
- Ring to employees' cell phones
- Store and share passwords
- Virtual mailbox (scan physical mail)
- Virtual address (physical street address without an office)
We’ve compiled a list of nearly 80 of the best software solutions for remote work in the article below; you can filter the list to find solutions for your particular needs.
Remote Work Software: The Sortable List
Managing Remote Teams
Managing a team of remote workers goes hand in hand with the technology solutions referenced in the previous section; for obvious reasons, remote management relies on effective use of digital communications, since the manager can’t just stroll around the office and see what every employee is doing.
But the other side of the management coin—building a positive working relationship with employees—is just as important in managing a remote team as it is in managing a team in an office environment. So it’s important to take employee preferences into consideration in your management practices and decisions.
For example, an online “happy hour” to foster team building might sound like a good idea—but would your employees rather knock off work at 4 pm and spend time with their families, or spend an hour in front of the screen chatting with colleagues? The intention is good but the exercise is not likely to boost employee happiness, no matter how much employees like their coworkers.
Overall, management of a remote team is somewhat less rigid than management of employees in a physical workplace. Communication is usually not instant and it’s not possible to observe employees at work. For that reason, applying the same management techniques and procedures routine in physical offices is not appropriate. The employee who is always “on” Slack is probably not the one getting the most work accomplished—precisely because they’re open to communicating at all times.
Examples like these illustrate how management practices need what are in some cases counterintuitive tweaks for successful use in management of remote teams. We’ve compiled a more comprehensive list of tips for managing remote teams here; some of them might surprise you.
97 Tips For Working Remotely
I asked over 100 people who work from home, “What is your #1 top tip for working remotely?”
- I received some fantastic responses.
- I got some responses that I personally disagree with, but still included those since my preferences may be different from yours.
- And there were plenty of contradicting responses. You’ll see those as well.
What you’ll find below is just about the most comprehensive list of tips for working remotely (not in a company office). It’s up to you to decide which ones to incorporate into your home office, your routines, and your remote company.
Top tips for working remotely
- Communicate clearly
- Schedule consistent work hours
- Have a dedicated work space
- Use the Pomodoro Technique
- Replace your commute with meaningful routines
- Have a backup internet connection
- Don’t work in your bedroom
- Invest in proper home office equipment
- Block off your time and calendar
- Lose the sweats and yoga pants
The tips in the list above are the ones recommended by the most people. In the list below, you’ll see the entire list of tips for working remotely.
The master list of remote work tips
Don’t work where you sleep
My #1 tip is to make your ‘office’ somewhere you don’t sleep or eat, but if that’s not possible, then my next best tip is to block off time on your calendar for activities like lunch, a morning coffee, or a quick walk around the block, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Little spurts of “me” time throughout the day help break up the monotony and the suffocating feeling that you’re always working.
– Tracy Sestili of Fountain, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Schedule your day with intent
“When working from home you should schedule your day with intent. Being at home makes it easy to get off task quite often. Using your Google Calendar or work calendar will allow you to block schedule your day and get more done while working at home.”
– Brandon Spears of Double X Digital, who has worked from home for three years.
Create a stress-free space at home
Any stress impacts your productivity, especially as it can lead to negative thoughts about your job — which will ultimately lead to burnout. Ensure that you create a stress-free space at home with few distractions.
A private space is key. As a remote worker, I appreciate silence for maximum concentration, right down to ensuring that my Mac fan doesn’t produce too much noise. Luckily, there are solutions.
See Also: Managing A Remote Team
Plan social engagement
“When you work from home, you lose the built in social aspect of an office. No saying ‘hi’ in the morning, or having lunch with a colleague face-to-face. Instead, you need to make up for these connections both at and outside of work. With your colleagues, you can do icebreaker questions at the beginning of each meeting to start conversation. For example, each person could share their favorite sandwich or a bucket list item they have checked off yet. Connecting in this way makes remote work more fun and engaging, and remote work much more sustainable over the long term. As for how often to do connection games, I recommend The 8% Rule, which says that about five minutes of every hour long meeting should be dedicated to fun team games and activities.”
– Michael Alexis of Team Building, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Also, do not forget about informal communication. You can increase your engagement and motivation by chatting with colleagues via online coffee breaks, playing games or solving quizzes, and attending webinars and conferences via various corporate virtual event software. All of these activities will help improve your mental well-being and prevent burnout.
See Also: 122 Influential Work-Life Balance Quotes
Fully adopt cloud storage
Make sure you have cloud storage access to all important paperwork templates for your company. Eg. contract/invoice/quote templates, digital letterhead, PowerPoint template. It ensures you always have access to the latest files. Storing on hard drives or flash-drives is unreliable when constantly on the move as you always have to remember to back up, and they can either damage or get lost. By keeping them on the cloud means if you need a new computer suddenly, you don’t have find some old archive of files.
– Kassandra Marsh of Lakazdi, who has worked from home for five+ years.
“Set very clear instructions when assigning tasks. This can save a lot of back and forth clarifying, which can sometimes be harder with remote teams. One way is to record a video of your screen, performing the task. This helps your team use the video for reference at any time, following it step by step.”
– Kevin Law of Vine Street Digital, who has worked from home for less than one year.
Good communication is must if you are working remotely. Always make your intent clear, provide all the required data and info, listen to what others are saying, ask question and share information.
– Sanket Shah of InVideo, who has worked from home for one year.
Communication is key! When it comes to managing a remote team, regular communication is essential to promote company culture and ensure everyone is on the same page. Working remotely can often feel like you’re on an island by yourself and establishing daily contact with team members provides accountability and encourages collaboration. We hold Kanban meetings every morning to discuss ongoing projects and resolve any ongoing issues, as well as recognize the hard work of employees going above and beyond.
– Monica Eaton-Cardone of Chargebacks911, who has worked from home for one year.
Our entire company has been virtual since its founding in 2011 so, over time, we have created a set of best practices for making it all work. Since it’s impossible to pop into someone’s office to ask a question, all remote team members need to be able to communicate with one another during working hours. Creating a clear policy for communication is very helpful. Explain how employees are expected to communicate, and what your rules are for being out of office. For our company, we are okay with staff members taking time out in the day for errands and workouts, as long as they communicate their unavailability and block their calendar in advance. Open communication and trust is key.
– Emily Paterson of Quatrain Creative, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Oklahoma Smokes was created and launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, so my business partner and I have always communicated virtually. We used regular FaceTime meetings, Slack, and Trello to stay in touch while building our business, and we learned that transparency was the key to remote collaboration. Responding to messages as soon as we received them, even if the answer was “I’m not sure, I’ll double-check and get back to you,” held us accountable to each other and helped us stay on top of our daily projects.
– Ashwinn Krishnaswamy of Oklahoma Smokes, who has worked from home for one year.
Draw clear lines between work and home life
“Ensure that there is a separation between work and home life. It is always best to have a particular place at home to work to encourage a home work-life balance. If work and home activities are too intertwined, every day will feel like groundhog day, weekends will feel like other workdays, and motivation may start to decline as burnout increases.”
– James Dyble of Global Sound Group, who has worked from home for one year.
“My #1 tip for working remotely is to plan and bring snacks with you, whether you are at home or out in a coffee shop or co-working space. You want to make sure you have enough food to eat and snack on so you don’t go hungry or brain-dead throughout the day and snack-planning is a huge part of that.”
– Stacy Caprio of Her.CEO, who has worked from home for four years.
Schedule consistent work hours
“Schedule your work hours. Put it on a calendar and start working as soon as the time comes to it. For example, my office work hours are from 9 AM to 6 PM. So I make it a point to start at 9:15 every single day. I also make it a point to log out at 6 every day. Sometimes I work till 7, but not after that. Make it a point to work and only work at that duration.”
– Jagadeash of Picmaker, who has worked from home for less than one year.
My biggest tip is to stick to a schedule and minimize distraction. You wouldn’t have a boss physically checking what you are up to with frequent status checks. So getting distracted is very easy. Personally, I still stick to the 9-to-6 workdays, with a few breaks. I mean I could take a nap in the afternoon and continue working later in the evening, but I believe by sticking to the schedule I am more productive and I can define a clear digital separation between work and personal stuff.
– Deb Pati of The Visa Project, who has worked from home for one year.
When working at home, it’s important to set a schedule. Take a lunch break and when the work day is over, turn off your computer. Otherwise, you will end up working around the clock and that can be draining. It’s the only way I can separate my private life and my work life.
– Chanda Torrey of Gifter World, who has worked from home for two years.
Work consistently by following a timetable. It will help maintain your productivity and health. Track your time and measure your productivity for redundant tasks. Find out how you can be better at it. Only work according to the timetable, overworking leads to health issues and other issues.
– Christian Velitchkov of Twiz LLC, who has worked from home for one year.
See Also: The Future Of Remote Work In 16 Steps
Establish clear boundaries
“Have a set of morning rituals to start your day. Know when it is time to be be fully focused or fully recharging. Living in your office is hard on your brain. You need to designate a specific place to work so that your brain knows when it’s time to work and when it’s time to rest.”
– Milena Regos of Unhustle, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Set rules with your family or roommates
“Discuss with the household the terms of agreement about work space, interruptions, and noise levels.”
– Mary Sullivan of Sweet but Fearless, who has worked from home for two years.
Have a dedicated work space
“The one thing that really made a difference in my case was having a dedicated space. I realized I had to create a space in my home that would be dedicated for work. I got a desk, a chair, decorated with flowers. This was a game changer. Now I have a place dedicated for work and when I sit down this is my place for focus.
– Dovile Miseviciute of Teamhood, who has worked from home for one year.
The most important thing for me was finding a dedicated desk space in my home. If you don’t have a particular spot when you get the work done, it will be much more difficult to check-in and out of work mode. It could be a simple minimal IKEA desk or whatever you prefer, but that place should be for work only. Also, invest in an excellent external monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Don’t be a slouch; your neck and back will thank you later.
– Alek Asaduryan of Yes Cycling, who has worked from home for one year.
Set yourself up for success! Make sure your designated work area is conducive for focused work. This means having a comfortable chair, a drink placed near you, and a clear space. When you sit in your chair you are entering “work.” This helps you be focused and professional even though you are not in an office.
– Robyn Goldfarb of A Dime Saved, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Work somewhere where you can separate work from your personal life/time.
– Kate O’Neill of Kate O’Neill Coaching, who has worked from home for five+ years.
If you have the space, create a separate workspace in your home that is away from your leisure space and don’t use it for anything apart from work. This helps to ensure there is a separation between your normal home life and work, it also helps to stay focused and build a routine around your work.
– Matt Benn of Soundplate, who has worked from home for two years.
My #1 tip about working remotely is to create a designated space that is well lit, quiet, clutter free and where you can manage the temperature. This might be a spare room, an attic or a garden office. Being comfortable in that space, where you’re cut off from interruptions will give you the best chance to focus 100% on the work you need to get done.
– Simon Daggett of Access Box Storage, who has worked from home for one year.
One of the keys to working from home is building a space that’s specifically designated for working. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a home office, but find a chair, a spot on the couch, or even a stand-up desk that is only used for work. This is essential to avoid burn-out and becoming overworked. This tells your brain and body, “Work is over, it’s time relax.” If you don’t do this, you’ll find yourself either unfocused or distracted during work hours or still on and ready to go when you should be relaxing.
– Devin Ahern of Mid Florida Material Handling, who has worked from home for one year.
Create a designated space dedicated to work and business only–include in this space your business tools, desk, stationery/file cabinet, artwork, flowers/plant, and music to help you focus, be inspired, and get the creative juices running. If you don’t have a dedicated space then create one and be there during business hours. Kitchen or dining room table is not an option.
– Jackie Abramian of Global Cadence, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Create a specific work space. Have a set desk, office chair, supplies, etc. as opposed to just plopping down with your laptop anywhere. Having a workspace will keep you committed to working and help avoid distractions. In essence, you get the feeling of being in an office while working remotely.
– Yoel Farkas of Yoel Farkas Corporation Ltd., who has worked from home for five+ years.
Set physical and mental boundaries
Protect your mental health and prevent burn out by setting physical and mental boundaries and building in plenty of time for self-care. If you can, designate a separate office space so that you can physically shut away your work when you have finished. Don’t leave your laptop where you can see it. Without a commute to give you time to wind down, go for a walk instead. The fresh air clears your head and gives you time to relax and switch off. Set out when you will be working, block out time in your calendar and stick to it. Not only will it reinforce your boundaries but you will use your time more efficiently if you know there’s an end point. Make sure you actually take your holiday and build in some time for relaxation.
– Gemma Roberts of The Work Life Blend, who has worked from home for one year.
Set office hours
“At the end of your working hours, snooze notifications on work-related platforms, or activate an automated response to indicate that you are away. Clarify the hours you’ll be available with your team.”
– Shehan Perera of Creately, who has worked from home for one year.
It’s imperative to have a structure, a schedule for your work day, just as you would in an office setting. This is the best way to ensure you are productive.
– Rhoda McVeigh of KMA Human Resources Consulting, LLC, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Set targets, not hours
“Set realistic targets for your remote team to achieve every week and be flexible on when to do the work, so long as the weekly targets are met. Your team can work during the day or at night–whenever they feel most productive. Your team will be far more efficient and motivated since you have a degree of control.”
– Kim Chan of DocPro, who has worked from home for one year.
Start the day with a casual video call
Plan it to be casual, as if it substituted the breakfast, the standing up coffee or the small talk in the elevator. Business related topics will also come in naturally and this kind of interactions can’t be placed in Slack.
– Salva Jovells of Hockerty, who has worked from home for less than one year.
The human connection between people is sometimes lost when all contact happens only over e-mail and Slack. While in the beginning this may actually seem efficient, over time it creates distance between people that effects not only the quality of work but also everyone’s well being. Having regular video calls with your team helps hugely in re-creating some of what is lost when you cannot be in the same office.
– Ben Heinkel of Ethical Clothing, who has worked from home for five+ years .
See Also: 5 Video Conference Backgrounds Reviewed
Re-think how and when you work
When working remotely, the production of high-quality output becomes the number one priority and is often the only priority. In an office, someone can survive on politics, appearance and work delegation–they can look professional and busy but contribute little. When working remotely, we can ignore irrelevant traditions and conventions. Going one step further, it makes sense to examine every aspect of your daily routine to optimize it for efficiency. For example, what time of day do you experience your peak mental state? Most people have around 3-5 hours of high energy, maximum concentration time. Is that early morning between 5-10 am for you? Perhaps it’s 5-10 pm? You might experience this during the traditional 9-5. Other examples of routines to examine include clothing, temperature, light, seating/standing, frequency and length of breaks.
– Jason Lavis of Out of the Box Innovations Ltd., who has worked from home for five+ years.
Put your phone on airplane mode.
– Vikki Louise of Vikki Louise Coaching, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Align deep work with lulls in household activity
Be consistent; find a routine that works for you! Everyone’s home office brings unique challenges depending on variables such as available work space, number of people in the house, internet speeds, etc. Take into account these variables when developing your schedule. When possible, align tasks that will take intense focus with lulls in the overall activity of your house…I mean “office.”
– Max Whiteside of BarBend, who has worked from home for two years.
Stretch, strengthen and improve your posture
With many of us already working-from-home, our postures are starting to reflect our sedentary lifestyle. Having a good posture is important for numerous reasons. Not only does it look good – nobody wants a hunchback – but it’s vital in preventing us from doing permanent long-term damage to our bodies. Good posture really comes from core strength – not just the abs which we often think of as the ‘core’, but which also includes the back, hips and glutes as well as abdominal muscles. We weaken our posture and get into bad habits with our sedentary lifestyles – especially if we work sitting at a desk all day long. Simply standing up to do a light stretch on the hour will get your blood pumping, re-energize you and ultimately prevent you from doing long term damage later down the track.
– Rhea Sheedy of Ballet Fusion, who has worked from home for three years.
Track your hours
Have a good system/application in place to track exact work hours, breaks, overtime, business travel, and leave. The transparency of a simple work time management tool can save your business time, and money while automating repetitive tasks. If you are able to monitor the exact hours worked by each employee remotely, you will be able to create accurate time sheets, pinpoint when employees clock-in late or clock-out early, and you can set necessary limits/rules for breaks. No hiding, no miscommunication, all data recorded precisely.
– Ashleigh Saunders of TrackTime24, who has worked from home for less than one year.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
My best tip for working remotely that I learned during the pandemic is to use the Pomodoro Technique to increase productivity. It’s a great remote working hack which entails working in small batches of time – 20 to 30 minutes while resting for 15 minutes in between tasks. Short breaks are here to help refresh and re-focus on the tasks we’re doing to the fullest.
– Jack Benzaquen of Duradry, who has worked from home for two years.
Use the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique is working for 25 minutes then rest for five minutes. You can repeat this for a maximum of 3 hours before having a 30 minute break. It is a scientifically proven system to be more efficient with your time. The human brain can only work for 25 minutes before becoming distracted and not as effective. Working remotely can be more challenging to avoid distractions. But this technique has helped me a lot to be more focused and productive.
– Mike Beatty of Strong Home Gym , who has worked from home for two years.
Use a visual collaboration tool
Forgot about task management software, it’s too granular. I like to use a live visual board like Miro, where you can add post-it notes and images, as the shared whiteboard for our team. We start every meeting by looking at it, and it has really helped align vision and projects across the company. The ability to add images in a free format really makes it easy to adopt as the central tool for planning and note taking.
– Pablo Villalba of Myhair, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Disable social media
Social media is a productivity hazard, and to ensure your performance remains high during work hours, make sure to disconnect from all social media during work hours. A good way of blocking social media during work hours is by using apps like Offtime, which, besides blocking what distracts us the most, allows us to see how much we use our phone and specific apps throughout the day.
– Sam Shepler of Testimonial Hero, who has worked from home for less than one year.
Replace your commute with meaningful routines
Build a routine that works for you, and stick to it. I found that one of the things people miss most, ironically, is the fact that the commute to and from work punctuates their day. By going out for a walk/run before starting work, and by making it a point to start cooking dinner at around 6 PM, I know that my work-day starts after my post-run shower and ends when I get up to cook. Those two events have replaced my commute as a mental cue that the day has started & ended.
– Richard Muscat Azzopardi of Switch – Digital & Brand, who has worked from home for one year.
Add in a commute (literal or figurative) to buffer your work day and your home life. I like to take a walk around the block, but you can also physically move to a space that is devoted to work or listen to music that you only listen during your transitional time. This practice helps me stay on task, so I’m not doing chores when I should be working and I’m not working until 9 p.m. every night!
– Caitlin Proctor of ZipJob, who has worked from home for four years.
Start your day with a virtual commute. This may seem a bit silly, but trust me, it’s a game changer. It could involve reading a book, going for a walk, meditating — whatever floats your boat. The important part is to be consistent with it. Over time, your brain will get used to this routine and it’ll help you get into the work mindset a lot more easily, which will increase your motivation and work output throughout the day. If you have a hard time winding down at the end of the day, you can do a virtual commute then too. This will help improve your work-life balance a TON.
– Dylan Houlihan of Swift Salary, who has worked from home for three years.
Create a custom morning routine that works for you. It can be easy to skip a positive routine or fall into bad habits, especially for first timers. My morning routine is an essential step in getting ready to start my day. This habit did not form overnight, I had to train myself to do it. I now love waking up with my son and getting ready to drop him off at school. I also prioritize stepping away from my computer and going for a walk while listening to a podcast or Audible book to help spark creativity.
– Bre Swanson of LEX Reception, who has worked from home for five+ years.
” I found the most valuable to establish boundaries. Keeping business in an office/room away from family and distractions. For me the deep work slots are the most productive time of the day and therefore maintaining a healthy separation has proven to be very efficient.
– Jaume Alavedra of onsite.fun, who has worked from home for two years.
Use the 90-minute rule
Structure your day into 90-minute sprints using a timer, switching off all distractions while you work. This is an optimal amount of time for a work session with your brain in high focus before you begin to burn out. Working six hours a day split into four of these 90-minute sprints can result in much greater productivity and help you to strike a healthy balance.
– Alex Trembath of Career Gappers, who has worked from home for three years.
Use a task management software
Make sure your team is on the same page. Emails are confusing — it’s easy to lose the plot. Online meetings are great for a meet-and-greet, but things like task progress gets lost in translation. So a cloud-based task management solution is essential. Briefs, documents and images can be uploaded, client feedback recorded, tasks allocated and team members tagged, deadlines and targets are clear, and all with email alerts you if you are mentioned.
– Chirene Hughes of Two Red Crows Brand Storytelling, who has worked from home for five+ years.
De-clutter your workspace
“Create a simple non-cluttered workspace that will lead to higher productivity & happiness while working.”
– Martina Cooper of BHMR, who has worked from home for four years.
Have a backup internet connection
My top tip for remote work especially when you are working from home is having a backup internet connection. When your internet suddenly goes down during an important meeting or you cannot finish your task in time to unblock your teammates to proceed with their part, it’s really counterproductive. The way out here is to have mobile traffic and use your phone as a hotspot to connect your computer or laptop for emergency cases. By doing so, you may rest assured that nothing can interrupt your plans.
– Joe Terrell of Drifted, who has worked from home for three years.
When working from home, consistent internet access is everything. To remain productive, I recommend having wired (Ethernet) access—not just WiFi, and a portable WiFi hotspot through your mobile phone provider for those times when your ISP fails. Additionally, if you use mobile technology (phones, tablets, etc.) have spare chargers in case a charger fails.
– Dr. Deb Geller of UCLA, who has worked from home for one year.
Don’t work in bed
Avoid the bed. The bed is said to be the strongest magnet on earth. If you wish to avoid sleepiness, do not work on or in close proximity to it.
– Marques Thomas of QuerySprout, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Don’t work in your bedroom
Work somewhere different from your bedroom. I am a young business owner (24) and when I first started working from home I worked from my bedroom at a small desk. Now I have a separate room that I go to so that I can separate things and stay productive.
– Kelly Maxwell of Seniors Mutual, who has worked from home for two years.
My number one top in working remotely is to avoid working in your bedroom as much as you can. If you can avoid setting up a workspace in your bedroom, do so. The bedroom tempts you into catching quick naps throughout your workday. It’s just not the most conducive workspace there is. What you should do instead is find a spot dedicated to your work and maintain a clutter-free desk. This way, you can contain the distractions and get focused on completing your tasks. Working from home is difficult when you work over the place.
– Hazel Santos of Skill Success, who has worked from home for two years.
Invest in proper home office equipment
Invest in a proper setup! If you’re traveling then get a Roost Stand + keyboard + mouse, if you’re working from home then get a monitor + desk + proper chair + video conference background. This will not only make it more comfortable overall, but also make you more productive when compared to working from a laptop on your knees all day. Having to “reinvent” your office every time you’re somewhere new is frustrating and investing in a few pieces of equipment can really help you transition faster!
– Quincy Smith of TEFL Hero, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Truly invest in your workspace. Working on the couch only works for so long – to stay happy, motivated, and productive, it’s critical to carve out a space dedicated to your work. Once you have it, invest in it: Find a nice desk, a great laptop, find good chair with proper support, and stock the space with any other equipment you might need.
– Kylie Moore of The Loop Marketing, who has worked from home for one year.
Wear blue light glasses
You are going to be facing your computer/tablet/phone 90% of your work day, you don’t have face to face meetings anymore – even that is done while facing the screen. As I have been working remotely for more than a year now, I find that wearing blue light blocking glasses helps ease the eye strain from staring too long at your computer screens. Also make sure that your tablets or phones are in the eye comfort setting as well.
– Geninna Ariton of Trendhim, who has worked from home for one year.
Prioritize asynchronous communication
” Our entire team works remotely and we stay in touch with each other through voice message apps like Voxer, which helps us have asynchronous conversations as we’re all in different timezones. We’ve been doing a pandemic road trip for the past six months, and as we’re traveling to different locations to set up our remote office, keeping up good communication is crucial!
– Amy Suto of Kingdom of Ink, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Begin your day with movement
I have a morning ritual that helps my work productivity… As soon as I wake up around 5:30 am, I start the coffee maker then I roll out my yoga mat and do 30 pushups, 100 sit-ups and 3 rounds of one minute planks followed by a quick stretch. It takes less than 20 minutes and not only does it get my heart pumping and immediately wake me up, it gives me a calm start to the day! Then I grab my coffee, crack open my laptop and begin the entrepreneurial grind already 200 calories lighter! So first thing in the morning, I’m already feeling healthier, stronger and motivated to conquer the day with a fresh mind and body.
– Lori Cheek of Cheekd, who has worked from home for one year.
Move your body throughout the day
Use your freedom during remote working to move more during your day, not less. Got a call? Take it on a walk. Feeling stiff? Move from sitting at a desk to standing at your kitchen island or kneeling on the floor with your laptop on the seat of your chair. Getting tired or stagnant? Do 20 squats or 30 jumping jacks. Working out before or after your workday is great, but the more you can infuse tiny bouts of mobility, movement, and variety into your day, the better you’ll feel.
– Kevin Munhall of Habit Disruption, who has worked from home for one year.
Leave the house
In all my years of working remotely, I’ve found one thing is my savior: leaving the house! It doesn’t matter when and it doesn’t really matter where, but getting up from your desk and getting fresh air is so crucial to your mental health. I used to think I’d be more productive if I glued myself to my desk, but my mind became hazy and I felt claustrophobic.
– Nadia McDannels of Let Nadia Design It, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Don’t huddle over your laptop, get a monitor
Don’t huddle over a laptop! If you’re only using a laptop, you can transform your workflow by adding a real monitor and giving yourself a dual screen setup. It’s also much better ergonomically, and gives you much more space to work.
– Ben Taylor of HomeWorkingClub.com, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Switch to a vertical display monitor
Sometimes we get bored by the traditional setup that we are seeing for the last couple of years. Therefore, changing things up a bit and placing a vertical display on your desk will not only elevate elegancy but increase your productivity as well.
– Atta Ur Rehman of GunMade, who has worked from home for one year.
Face a window
Because I am in the office a lot of the day, I have my desk facing a window so I can see the outside. Every time I sit down at my desk, I see something beautiful …. trees, grass, snow, etc.
– Judith Gail Lindenberger of The Lindenberger Group, who has worked from home for twenty years.
Protect against in-person and digital distractions
Protect your focus! Environmental distractions like your family at home or other patrons in a coffee shop can often be tuned out by moving to a new spot or putting on some headphones, but pings from coworkers and other distractions online can be harder to manage. Turn off notifications when it makes sense, use Don’t Disturb mode on your devices and don’t be afraid to block off time in your schedule for uninterrupted focus.
– Michael Steele of Flywheel Digital, who has worked from home for one year.
Embrace minimalism at your desk
Eliminating distractions from my immediate workspace was a big step for me when adapting to remote work. I got rid of everything within my reach on and around my desk because I found myself becoming distracted by some items, like stacks of paper, decor items, and more. My tip is to turn your workspace into a minimalist area with only your computer, a pen & notepad, and a cup of coffee. You won’t get distracted by little items and you’ll be more productive!
– Lindsey Allard of PlaybookUX, who has worked from home for four years.
Optimize your diet
One of the best pieces of advice that works for me is to “Optimize my diet for peak performance.” I avoid eating meals that contain carbohydrates and proteins together, for example, chicken with rice, fish with potatoes. Our body consumes so much energy when trying to digest these types of food combined and as result we feel sleepy and more tired. I follow this specific diet for my lunch and that’s how I am productive since I started working remotely.
– Antreas Koutis of Financer, who has worked from home for two years.
Do the difficult tasks when you’re clear headed
My #1 tip about working remotely is to do all the difficult tasks when you’re the most clear headed. For example, I think best in the morning. I do all of the tasks that require the most concentration when I first get up. Some of these difficult tasks include solving product problems, writing new content and researching.
– Jacqueline Gilchrist of Mom Money Map, who has worked from home for two years.
Do less-time consuming tasks, first
Prioritization is the most important thing to consider when working from home. I strongly recommend doing your shorter (less time-consuming) tasks first, just to knock them out of the park first. Follow those up by going right into your most important tasks to ensure you make all necessary deadlines.
– Melissa Rey of drvn, who has worked from home for one year.
Don’t replicate the office environment
Don’t try to replicate the office environment. Build your ideal remote environment from scratch.
– Samuel Claassen of Building Remotely, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Add plants to your home office space
I would recommend a Snake Plant, or Sansevieria, which is one of the most efficient air-purifying plants. In addition to its high-level oxygen production, it’s small and easy to fit anywhere you decide to work around the house, whether it’s the bedroom or your home office. Having plants around is therapeutic, not only because they invoke thoughts of nature but the green color itself has been known to have a soothing effect on the mind.
– Jack Benzaquen of Duradry, who has worked from home for three years.
I know it sounds simple, but every day I create a new list with tasks from urgent to least urgent. I then work on a point until I finish it or at the very least can’t do anymore until something else happens, then I check to see if there’s anything else that needs adding to the list, then move on. It’s far too easy when working from home to get distracted, but the sooner you learn you can only ever really concentrate on one working task at a time the better.
– Kristian Sturt of Colossal Influence Limited, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Work an extra half hour per day
Work at least one half hour extra per day beyond the requirement but don’t report it. The additional time improves your production and reputation. To me it is not “extra” since I previously spent over 90 minutes each day commuting. Even with working the “extra” half hour, I still gain an “extra” hour each working day I can use for myself. By showing I work even more effectively from home, I save valuable time and money by not having to commute to work.
– Dave Kohl of First In Promotions Inc., who has worked from home for three years.
Plan your upcoming day
For some people working from home can actually be more difficult and hard to get a good routine going from distractions that can happen. I have worked from home for over 8 years now and my best tip would be to plan and time block your day, the night before. This will help keep you focused and know what you need to accomplish and when. If distractions arise it will be easier to jump back into what you were doing.
– Doug Hentges of DH Home Solutions, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Understand software tools before using them
Be familiar with the technology. For instance, if you use video conferencing, you need to know how to schedule a meeting, the length of the meeting so your meeting doesn’t end abruptly, how to share your computer sound so participants can hear videos you play, how to share your screen, and how to make people co-hosts so they can share their screens. Also, you need to decide ahead of time if you want to record the meeting. Will you need everyone’s consent? Make sure you know how to record a meeting. If you want to poll the participants, learn before the meeting how to use this feature. The bottom line: Don’t assume you can figure out the virtual meeting technology as you go. There are lessons to be learned and decisions to be made ahead of time.
– Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging, who has worked from home for one year.
Block off your time and calendar
Block out your own time. It’s easy to get distracted by a constant stream of notifications, emails and messages. When you have an important task to do, block out a set amount of hours that are reserved for that task only. You can even go as far as putting it on your calendar, for greater accountability (to yourself) and so that your team knows your busy. This method makes you feel more productive, and also enables you to learn exactly how long things take when you dedicate your entire focus to them.
– Karolina Cala of Levitex, who has worked from home for three years.
Utilize your calendar and put blocks for breaks, when to eat, work sessions, and other tasks to keep you on track of what you need to do.
– AJ Cartas of Syzygy Social LLC, who has worked from home for four years.
Block off break time on your shared work calendar, clearly denoting that you are unavailable. Whether this break is for lunch, going for a stroll around the block, or taking the dog for a walk, it’s critical to ensure you aren’t sitting in front of your computer for eight straight hours. If you don’t proactively make a plan to take a break during the workday, you will never take one, as there is always more work you could be doing.
– Lisa Kerner of Fueled, who has worked from home for one year.
Harness Parkinson’s Law
The single thing that keeps me most productive while working remotely is to pick stopping time each day. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day, but I’ve found that deciding, in advance, what time I’ll stop working on any given day helps me stay productive and create an effective boundary between work and home. When you pick a stopping time, you are applying the principle of Parkinson’s Law, which states that work expands to fill the time allotted. Picking a stopping time ensures that a) my work doesn’t bleed into all aspects of my life and b) that I’m more productive because I’ve given myself a defined period of time to get things done.
– Alexis Haselberger of Alexis Haselberger Coaching and Consulting, Inc, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Use alerts to structure your routine
Use your calendar to both discipline yourself actually to work, and to maintain strong boundaries between work and personal life. In other words, create an alert for when to start work (eg, 8:30 AM) and an alert for those tasks you plan to accomplish — with enough time for each task and between tasks to change mindset and take a short break. And then have an alert that tells you it is the end of the day—when you put away your laptop and go walk the dog or hit the gym! All said, surrender to your calendar!
– Amie Devero of Beyond Better Strategy and Coaching, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Lose the sweats and yoga pants
Establish a routine in the morning that is similar to what you would do if you were going into the office, including putting on more traditional “work clothes.” This will help define your day a bit more and provide a specific “beginning and end” to your work day. This will be a big help to your mental health when it can be hard to separate work from home.
– Sarah Maschoff of FieldPulse, who has worked from home for one year.
It’s easy to stay in bed in your pajamas all day, but make an effort to get up, change, and have a dedicated working spot. Act like you’re getting ready to go to the office!
– Jenna Jackson of Squadhelp, who has worked from home for four years.
Keep your dressing and grooming routine. When I first started working remotely, I would attend conference calls while in my pajamas and answer emails from my phone while lying in bed. It was awesome at first, but then my productivity went down along with my motivation. When I realized I was slipping, the simple act of morning preparation as if I were going to an office helped tremendously. Our morning prep routine help set our mindset for the day. I find I am much more productive through my work day when I dress professionally (maybe not a suit and tie but at least slacks and a button shirt), brush my teeth, comb my hair, etc.
– Brent Lovett of Luxe Industries, who has worked from home for two years.
I experienced that whenever I appropriately get dressed for my remote work job, it helps me in following a productive schedule. I never get distracted as I feel myself in my office and want to accomplish all my daily goals in time.
– Adam Garcia of The Stock Dork, who has worked from home for one year.
Wake up before your kids
If you have kids, wake up before they do so you can work uninterrupted for an hour or two. Starting the day with focused, efficient work helps set the tone for the rest of the day. You’ll be able to stay on track even when distractions arise and would otherwise pull you off track.
– Melanie Musson of USInuranceAgents.com, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Create a work space that brings you joy
Add in personal touches like a plant, lamps, candles, and bright art work.
– Jas Banwait of SnackMagic, who has worked from home for one year.
Carve out a personalized, beautiful and nurturing workspace for yourself that invites you to seize your professional day. For some that may be a small coffee shop with recurring patrons and relationships. For me, in one home I designed the master suite around my office with stunning decor. When software became available that assured I could work completely on the cloud from anywhere in the world, I moved my office to the lanai of a condominium in Maui.
– Lorraine Allison Craig of Lorri Allison Craig, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Consciously manage your work/life balance
When you work from home regularly, lines between work and personal life start to blur. It’s not always so easy to switch off and pay attention to your home life when your work life is always present in the other room. Just like it’s important to have discipline to stay focused when working, it is equally important to have the discipline to focus on yourself and your family. There are a lot of benefits to working from home. I think the key is to be consciously aware of these issues, so that you (and your team) can be both happy and productive.
– Richa Nathani of Dialed Labs, who has worked from home for three years.
Over-communicating is necessary. Post in Slack. Send emails. Set up conference calls to check in, brainstorm, or just talk about the weather. Communicate more than you think you should. It’s all good! And it’s all IMPORTANT. Undoubtedly, remote work is a constant effort to be visible. For the managers, it’s about needing to know what people are working on and for the members, it’s about needing to know that their work is being seen.
– Cody Crawford of Low Offset, who has worked from home for five+ years.
To stay connected and keep the team on track I try to set the tone upfront with one rule, when in doubt over-communicate. Especially now that everyone is working remotely it is key to set up regular e-mails, video and conference calls. If the lines of communication are open and everyone makes an effort to listen and be heard then collaboration will happen naturally and the information will flow.
– Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls, who has worked from home for five+ years.
Communication is especially critical when working remotely, so my best tip is – over-communicate. You should tell often everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability. And when you finish a specific project or important task, say so. It doesn’t mean that you have to write long messages to explain your every move, but it does mean that you need to repeat yourself. You should contribute regularly to team chats – ask about what your colleagues are working on and share what’s on your plate. You should be especially proactive and tell colleagues about the progress on longer-term goals. And it’s also important to communicate frequently with your boss and know what is expected of you.
– Illia Termeno of Fractional CMO, who has worked from home for three years.
Stick to your rules
Make your own rules, and stick to them! The thing about working remotely is that no one is looking over your shoulder or breathing down your neck making sure you’re actually getting something done. You’re on your own! This is both a blessing and a curse. You get to set the rules, the routine, and for some even when and where you work, but then you actually have to do it. Use the freedom of a remote work situation to create a daily schedule that works for you, and then (and this is the hard part) STICK TO IT. Don’t let yourself make excuses to start surfing Tik Tok “just for a minute” or call a friend and end up talking for an hour. Self discipline is hard! But the rewards includes freedom to set a routine that adapts to you, instead of the other way around.
– Rigel Celeste of Rigel Celeste, Writing Coach, who has worked from home for five+ years.
My top tip for remote workers is to keep things as ergonomic as possible. There’s nothing worse than developing back problems due to sitting in an awkward position. I highly recommend using a portable laptop desk. You can set it on your table or desk, which brings the laptop to a higher level, so you can easily work while standing. When you stand, can burn around 150 calories an hour, so it’s healthier too! Then, you can top up on those calories by using the portable laptop desk as a tray table on breaks. I get a lot of use out of mine!
– Jagoda Wieczorek of ResumeLab, who has worked from home for one year.
Who contributed to this survey about working remotely?
I used HARO and my Buildremote list of experts to find remote workers who were willing to contribute. I received 137 responses. Of those, here is the breakdown of how long each person has worked remotely:
- Less than one year: 6%
- One year: 36%
- Two years: 13%
- Three years: 11%
- Four years: 6%
- Five or more years: 28%
My assumption is that 42% of people started working remotely as a result of COVID-19 (in 2020) and 58% of people had been working remotely before that. For each tip, I give credit to the respondent and mention how long that person has worked remotely for context.
Looking to improve your home office?
Here’s everything you’ll find in my home office right now.
What I Have
FlexiSpot Comhar Pro Q8 (Standing Desk)
Dell S2421H 24 Inch
Apple Magic Keyboard
Apple Magic Mouse
Roost Laptop Stand
Logitech 4K Pro