When your refrigerator is your lunchroom and your commute consists of 10 stairs, working remotely can be unique and sometimes challenging. How do you separate your home and work lives when your office is your home? The great part about working remotely is it gives you the freedom to do both. The issue is finding that balance between your two worlds. Don’t worry, it can be done.
Here are 10 great tips to help you meet your deadlines and still have that home time that is equally, if not more, important.10 great tips to help you meet your deadlines and still have that home time that is equally important. Click To Tweet
1. Structure company for remote
Whether your company is currently remote or you’re thinking of taking it remote, make sure it’s set-up to succeed in this environment. This is especially important when hiring new staff. Employees need to be self-starters and the kind of employees who will reach out when they have questions. They also need to be comfortable working in an office of one.
While it can feel isolating even for the super introverted, you can and should create a virtual company culture. It’s important to utilize communication tools in order to accomplish this.
Using a system like Trello or Slack to communicate will keep you and your staff on the same page. And although remote work culture does cut down on the amount of meetings, some project kick-offs and complex ones require real-time collaboration. Implementing occasional Google Hangouts is a great way for everyone to see team member faces and hear opinions. And consider going one step further at least once in awhile with in-person meetings.
Whether this is to discuss the direction for the coming year or a celebratory holiday party, this all helps company employees feel more like a team and less like a group of individuals.
2. Keep a daily schedule
It’s so easy when you work from home to get distracted. You eye the laundry piling up, the dog wants to play fetch or your car looks like it could be cleaned. In order to meet your company deadlines, it’s important to have and keep a consistent schedule. A great way to do this is through a time tracking software like Hubstaff. Software like this allows you to track time spent on company projects. You can also have each of your employees use this software as well. That way everyone can see how their day is being spent on each task. Take the time to block off the hours in your day where you solely focus on work.
On the flipside, project management software also allows for personal time. Just as you would have an hour lunch break at the office, you can build an hour into your remote schedule. Whether this is the time you go for a walk with your dog or workout, this becomes part of your routine.
3. Create office setting remote-style
You may not work in an office building, but you need to treat your home office as such. Find a dedicated work space in your home. Depending on what tools you need to succeed at your job, this may be an actual office room or some other place in your house. Or maybe consider working outside of your house. Many coffee shops, libraries, and other popular food chains offer free WIFI. Wherever it is, it needs to be free of distractions.
Make sure you think about what distracts you and how you can avoid these distractions. For example, you may have an office that overlooks a busy street or one that does not have a door. In order to concentrate, maybe you listen to soft music or put on a pair of noise cancellation headphones. Or if your job requires several phone calls you invest in a wireless Bluetooth headset.
Also, it’s important to tell your family know when it’s work time and when it’s home time. Especially if you have young children who get home from school at 3 p.m. They might not understand it’s still work time for you. Having this designated office space will define work not only for you, but for your family.
For your employees, figure out what tools they will need to be successful for the company and themselves. If your industry requires special apps or technology, it’s worth the investment to either provide these for your team members or a stipend so they can buy what is needed. Although this takes an initial investment on your part, it will pay off in the long run.
Here are some other helpful tips for creating a remote office space from FlexJobs.
4. Make the most of your day
Remote working gives you back hours in your day. There is no commute, co-worker ‘how was your weekend,’ or ‘join us for xx birthday’ times.’ So with all the non-work time saved in your day, you are free to add in more “life time.” Just make smart decisions with utilizing this extra time.
For example if you need to run errands, try to do as much as you can online. There are several food and grocery stores now offering either door to door or pick-up curbside options. Or if the dirty house is tempting you to clean it, consider hiring a cleaning person.
Keeping your home “to-do” list streamlined, will help meet work deadlines and still allow time for hobbies, family, and exercise.
5. Stick to an industry work schedule
If your industry works a 9 to 5, five-day workweek, try and stick to this same schedule. Remote workers can put in more time than office workers since they aren’t factoring in day-to-day office interactions and commutes. Because of this, you want to avoid burnout for both you and your employees.
So if your line of work tends to only work during weekdays, shut off your email and computer on weekends. You may occasionally have busy times where this is not possible, but try stick to this schedule the majority of your time. That way you can spend weekends with your family or have time for yourself.
6. Give longer vacations time
When you work in a brick and mortar setting, companies often have strict vacation policies. Many of these policies start with two weeks paid time off. If your hobby is traveling, this leaves little time for exploring another country. It also hinders new hires and millennials who may have to build up their hours in order to take one of these vacations.
Sometimes instead of finding a balance between work/home, it’s better to combine them. Taking longer vacations while working remote accomplishes both. As long as you can log in no matter where you are and can get your work done on time, than you are free to sightsee all in the same day. So if you don’t have a flexible vacation policy, consider starting this perk for your employees. As long as they understand work is also a priority, let them enjoy some downtime.
7. Lead by example
If you want to attract new employees and keep turnover to a minimum, let your employees know you respect work/life balance from the start. Maybe you take an extended vacation yourself. Or maybe you take a class during your lunch hour and let your employees know you won’t be communicating during this time. Whatever it is, let employees know your company respects their personal time too.
This is also important to consider when scheduling meetings or creating deadlines. If you plan projects out in the beginning and have a set conference call schedule throughout, this allows employees to factor in personal time better.
Also, be considerate if you have employees in different time zones. You don’t want to infringe on their weekends or after work hours that can be better spent as family time. A great tool for judging what time it is in different zones is EveryTimeZone.
8. Create a remote start
Office workers have an “office start.” Their routine may be shower, grab some breakfast, and drive into work. Once they are at work, they grab coffee and chat with co-workers before beginning their day. When you are remote and your laptop is sitting two feet away from you, you are tempted to start working right away still in your pajamas.
Instead of rolling out of bed and starting your day, create a “remote start.” Your schedule may be to get dressed, grab a cup of coffee at a local shop, head to the gym, and then send some instant messages to your employees just to say hi. Try HipChat as a vehicle for non-work conversations.
Building in personal time for you and your employees’ work days will create good work/life balance. Plus, it’s a good way to connect with your employees on a personal level.
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9. Provide virtual team bonding
When you are a remote worker, you can feel disconnected to your company or team. Consider providing tools for your employees to share their home life, hobbies, and interests with others. This will not only provide a more close knit team, but give employees a chance to talk about what they do outside of the office.
There are several apps that can be easily downloaded to create this atmosphere no matter where your employees work. Consider setting up a private Facebook group where employees can wish each other happy birthday or share articles or books they found interesting. Or another topic of conversation in offices is, “how many steps have you done today?”
Consider downloading Jawbone Up where you can share your fitness and diet goals. And many employees enjoy traveling, cooking or other similar hobbies. Why not use an app like Whatsapp to group text employees and allow them to share information.
10. Performance over hours reviews
The nice part about working remotely is you have flexibility. When you go to review your employees, base your assessment off work completed not hours worked. In an office setting, everyone for the most part comes and goes at the same time. They also take a lunch break around the same time too. When you work remotely, you choose when to workout, run an errand or take a break. This promotes a healthy balance between home and work. And really is the essence of working remotely.
Come review time, make sure to look at deadlines being met, meetings attended, responses in a timely manner versus the time your employees sat at their desks. This gives employees the opportunity to prioritize their day as they see fit. For example, maybe their daughter has a track meet at 3 p.m. one day and they do not have any looming deadlines.
Technically, their hours for this particular day would be skewed toward home time versus work time. But maybe the next day they put in extra hours because they have a project due. If you assess performances this way, it will make for happier and more productive employees.
How do you create work/life balance?
It’s important especially when workers are remote they have the downtime they deserve. That’s why we listed 10 ways to help you and your employees get the work/life balance you all deserve. But we know every remote company functions differently.
If you own your own remote company, what are some ways you promote home and work time? Do your employees feel they have time for both? What works in your experience? Please comment below and share your thoughts.