In the last few years, it has become more common for people to work from the comfort of their homes. Employees don’t need to be in the office to get their jobs done, and by skipping the commute, working from home saves people lots of time.
But what is remote work anyway?
Remote work is a situation where employees are working from home instead of at the office. In lieu of being in the cubicle or office next door, remote work allows teams to communicate with their colleagues via online channels including emails, online video meetings, and online chatting.
Now that we’ve defined remote work, let’s discuss some of the more popular tools to use in a remote work setting. Having access to the correct tools is the backbones of a successful remote work environment. Without those tools, workers cannot perform with the same efficiency as in the office.
What tools are used for communication for remote work?
Electronic Mail (email) platforms
Email – Ah, the classic way of exchanging information indeed. Whether you are in the office or comfortably working out of your home, emails have been an integral part of our working lives for some time now.
Whether you are discussing topics with someone far away or near you, email has replaced the phone call in most companies as the most-used (and some would argue over-used) communication method.
Emails are great for documenting information, sending files, images, videos, texts, and other attachments.
Examples of popular email platforms are Microsoft Outlook, Google’s Gmail or GSuite, Yahoo Mail, and Hotmail. Many companies have their own email domain using the format “@companyname.com”. This feature is accessible without spending thousands for the highest end email platforms.
Usually, when we want to say something to someone quickly, we “chat” with them online. This method of communication allows for brief and casual conversation without the formality of an email structure. You only need an Internet connection and you can send information to a person in an instant in real-time.
Chat platforms are becoming more and more integral in our day-to-day office interactions, especially when we want to relay our message instantly without it getting stuck in the pile of other emails in a person’s email inbox.
Examples of well-known chat platforms are Skype, Microsoft Teams, or Google Chat. Other chat platforms include WhatsApp, Microsoft Lync, Viber, Voxer, and Telegram or even social apps like Facebook Messenger can be used for chatting.
Audio Call platforms
Sometimes, instead of typing, it’s easiest to pick up the phone and have a conversation with someone. That’s when it makes more sense to use audio call platforms.
Having the ability to talk and hear via an audio call is an important aspect of productivy in your remote workspace that many people overlook. The time saved is huge compared to having to type all the things that you wanted to say.
Examples of most-used audio call platforms are Microsoft Teams, Skype, and Facebook Messenger.
Video Call platforms
Nowadays, video calls are more and more prevalent in the corporate world as well as personally as we use these platforms to be able to see and talk to our loved ones, even while we are socially distanced.
Having experienced video meetings and gatherings, we can easily understand why this platform is one of the most frequently used when it comes to communicating.
Aside from connecting team members who are all remote in order to have a weekly status meeting, video call platforms are being used more and more for online interviews and one-on-one coaching. The possibilities are endless with connecting people this way.
Examples of video chat platforms are Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and FaceTime.
Online Meeting platforms
One of the biggest challenges to working remotely is having team meetings. Luckily, the technology is already in place to meet our needs. This makes meetings feel as though we are all in the same place.
Examples of online meeting platforms are Zoom, Adobe Connect, and Skype for Business. Other platforms are GoToMeeting, Big Blue Button, and Click Meeting.
No doubt that these tools are going to help us achieve more in our remote work set up. But before anything else, let us talk about what perfect remote workspace is all about.
So what is the “perfect” remote workspace?
The perfect remote workspace will vary based on the individual as well as the job functions they are trying to perform. But, at the very least, this workspace has all the necessary technology and environmental components to enable you to work at max efficiency. Having the things you need easily accessible allows you to work with ease and comfort.
What are the factors to consider when setting up your remote workspace?
You must have the proper mindset when doing remote work. We understand working remotely may seem a little odd at first, but as time goes by, you get used to it. You can maximize the benefits of remote work when you have a positive mindset.
The Location of your workspace is one of the very important things to consider. You should consider a space that is quiet and has minimal distractions. It is also a space where you should feel comfortable.
Ambiance also plays a crucial role when doing remote work. Your workspace should have an atmosphere that allows you to work at your best with the least amount of effort.
The background is like ambiance in some ways and has equal importance as well. One difference between ambiance and background is that ambiance is more intangible. Background includes the physical aspects of the room like photos, music, etc. You should have the proper background that suits you.
Take music for example. Some people tend to work better with certain genres of music playing in the background. Other people need it to be as quiet as possible.
Privacy is more important than you think. Imagine you are making progress on a task that requires your focused attention. Next thing you know, your child barges into your workspace and you lose that momentum.
Frequent distractions will not only waste your time, but it will also disrupt you. It will disrupt any momentum you’ve gained and set your “A-HA” moment further from your grasp. And you have to start all over again from the beginning.
This probably goes without saying, but your workspace should be in range of reliable internet connection. Communication is very important in your workspace and most of the communication methods we’ve mentioned here rely on your Internet connection.
Imagine you are in a meeting with your client and you get disconnected. This can be frustrating for you and for your client and disrupts the ability to communicate about important information.
Did you even notice that your mood changes when you’re physically uncomfortable? Think about when it’s too hot or too cold. We are typically quick to react to being uncomfortable.
As if we needed more excuses standing in the way of productivity – temperature has a great effect on motivation for doing work. You cannot focus on your work if it is too hot. You also cannot do your work in an efficient manner if you are shivering due to cold.
We have now finished discussing the factors that we need to consider when doing remote work. Next, we want to discuss the challenges and obstacles to setting up a remote workspace. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies.
Are there any challenges of working in a remotely?
More often than not, when you are starting to work remotely, you will face many distractions. Distraction is a sign that you have not optimized your workspace yet. And distraction is something that you must fix for you to work with efficiency.
There are times that you do not have the energy to work. Sometimes you are not in the mood. Bottom line is, this is one of the hardest challenges you may encounter in remote work.
Sometimes the routine gets to you. Everything you do gets old and tiring. You get stuck in a rut and are just plain bored.
One way to fix this is through mindset and self-awareness. Ask yourself why you feel bored. You may find the answers within.
You sometimes want to go out for a change of scenery
There will be times that you will miss going out and yes – this is normal. You miss being out in the world and going to your office. You miss people.
This is one of the problems of extroverted people or those of us who are used to being out and about frequently. It may be hard at first, but you can get used to it. You should allow yourself frequent breaks where you actually go outside. Working remotely should not feel like you are in a prison of your own home all the time.
In normal circumstances, we go TO a place to do work. Then we come home to relax and sleep.
For those who are starting out in remote work, we need to shift the association with being relaxed at home, just chilling out to replace it with a workstation where we can be productive. Even inside of our home.
Your productivity may be low at first, but as you get used to it, you should be able to get yourself to do more productive work. It is okay to allow yourself to adjust at your own pace.
That is why we recommended earlier having the proper workspace. You do not want to work in a place where there is a bed, a couch, or pillows. You should be comfortable, but not too comfortable.
Now we have identified the challenges involved. It is time to ask why these are all important. What do we get from optimizing our workspace?
The importance of optimizing your remote workspace
It is very important to optimize your remote workspace the right way. Depending on the setup, it can affect your productivity and efficiency.
Please take note that people are different. What works for one person will not always work for another. You should do some initial testing and adjust, as needed.
As you optimize your workspace to meet your individual needs, you can reap many benefits.
And that is what we are going to discuss in the next topic – the benefits of working from home.
What are the benefits of having the perfect remote workspace?
The benefits of having a perfect remote workspace are very subjective indeed. It differs from one person to another. Here are some of the most common benefits:
It’s quite possible that the most productive people are the ones who are working at home. With the right environment, some people can do more at home than what they can do at the office. Imagine the wasted time commuting that can be converted into productive hours.
Work smart not hard
We all know that being busy doesn’t always mean being productive. In doing remote work, you should work smarter, not harder so that you maximize your effort. Otherwise, you end up more tired than if you were working from the office, except when you work from your home, there is no leaving the office.
Your mood may be improved
With most benefits piling up, it is no doubt that you have the potential to be a lot happier when working at home. You will be no longer be stressed in traffic nor do you need to rush out the door to get to the office.
How to create that ultimate remote workspace?
Make sure you have a dedicated room for your work
Always have a dedicated workspace for your remote work. This will remove unwanted distractions or other unimportant stuff.
On the positive side, it will improve all the good stuff that will help you achieve more and do more in your work
Dress like you are going to work
One secret successful remote workers have is in getting dressed for work each day. This is completely a mental tip and creates a mindset of productivity. You can make your body think that you are in work mode by simulating the clothing you may have worn to the office.
Schedule your working hours
Scheduling your day is one of the most important things you can do to maximize productivity. Imagine all the tasks at hand. Do the tasks identified during the hours you’ve set for your work day. When the hours are done, shift gears to your home life to have some balance.
Have the right tools
This is as important as having the right mindset. You need all the tools in the world that can increase your productivity and output.
We are not only talking about software tools. Physical tools are also included here like earphones, good keyboards, or comfy chairs.
Make a habit of communicating with a family member when you’re free
Remember that your mental health is as important as your work. No amount of career is worth it, if you are going crazy. Don’t forget to touch base with your family during breaks. It is very important to have balance in your life and relationships outside of work, not only work all the time.
Have good lighting
Having the proper lighting can help you to be more productive and is also easier for your eyes.
Surround the workspace with stimuli that trigger positive vibes
Decorate your workspace with objects that promote positivity. Not only does this decrease the resistance of doing work but it also boosts your level of happiness. This, in turn, will lead to being more creative in your work.
Organize the things around you
Untidy surroundings can consume and waste more energy than we realize. Our mind wants to be distraction free. It does not want to see messy things.
It will only consume more energy, thus making you more tired. Being surrounded by clutter can decrease your productivity in the long run.
Plan a routine that works
Plan a routine that you can stick to. Be realistic with the hours you need to be at your computer and block that time off from being available to other things.
Avoid distractions when doing work
To maximize productivity, as mentioned earlier, try to avoid distractions. This includes your Social Media apps as well physical distractions in your home work setting. Put your phone away and/or turn off notifications except for emergencies. This will increase your ability to get more work done.
Don’t forget to take breaks
We are not machines. We need breaks. Our mind and body can only accommodate so much.
To recharge, we must take a break after working for long hours. This will ensure that our tanks are full again to do the things that we want to do outside of work and that we have energy to come back and do it again tomorrow.
In today’s world where technology is becoming more and more prevalent, working from home is very beneficial. The benefits are countless compared to the challenges. Adapting an effective remote workspace is a win-win for both employers and their employees.
To know more about remote workspaces and how to set your employees up with the appropriate technology – from workstations to cloud access, schedule a free consultation with a CTS representative.