Chapter 5

Remote Working Survival Tips

For many employees, having the flexibility of being able to work from home has been a dream they’ve pursued for a long time. There are indeed real benefits to working remotely, as we’ve seen in the last few chapters. But there are also big challenges to overcome.

Organizing Your Home Schedule

One of these challenges has to do with the way you organize your time at home effectively. It’s easy to get carried away without a proper routine to follow, and this can be a huge stumbling block to your productivity. When working in an office, your morning commute can help you wake up, and feel ready to work by the time you get to your desk at home. However, the transition from your pillow to your computer can be more of a task in itself. What you need is a remote working toolbox with effective strategies like the ones listed below to help you make better use of your time and maximize productivity:

  • Get Started Right Away on Your To-Do List – Begin your morning right away with a to-do list. There may be a lot to do, but the key to doing it all is to pace yourself right from the start. Long-distance runners don’t exhaust all their energy supply as soon as they leave the starting line. They start at a steady pace and maintain that momentum, so it’s enough to sustain themselves until they reach the finish line. Start your morning with your most difficult tasks and slowly work your way through the list progressively. A to-do list is a necessary part of your routine because, without it, it can be easy to dilly dally, taking your time over a prolonged breakfast and before you know it, half the day is gone and you’ve barely made a dent in your tasks. The morning sluggishness can be the biggest temptation to overcome and it’s going to take some self-discipline mentally to get through it.
  • Do Your Most Challenging Tasks in the Morning – At the start of the day is when we have the most energy and fuel, so start your day with the hardest jobs first. If you’ve found yourself prone to procrastinating the harder tasks in the past and leaving them to the very last minute, try switching things around and start with the hard stuff first. When you’re done with that hard task, move on to smaller, more doable tasks until the end of your workday. Getting the most unpleasant bits of the tasks out of the way first will make the rest of your process a lot more bearable when you think about it. The hardest tasks are the ones we always feel like procrastinating on the most. When you get the hard stuff out of the way, you find you feel much happier, lighter, and things seem more manageable somehow for the rest of the day.
  • Pretend You’re Going to the Office – Behave just as you would if you were going to an office, except this time minus the commute. If it helps you get into the right mindset needed for work and makes you a lot more productive than your pajamas do, maintain the routine you had when you were getting ready to go to the office every day. Wake up in the morning when your alarm rings, change out of your pajamas, make your morning cup of coffee, and prepare to start work as though you were in an office environment. This role-playing might not seem like it’s doing much to help, but it’s better to pretend than to find yourself in bed all day or struggling to wake up in the mornings and getting nothing done.
  • Simulate the Structure of A Busy Day At The Office – Structure your day like you would in the office. You are your own boss and personal manager. This is going to help with the challenge that some remote workers face where they end up clocking in more hours than they should. That’s why there is a distinct need for separation between work and personal life. Without it, both lives can easily bleed into each other, and you lose out on the work-life balance that was supposed to e a perk of the job. Create to-do lists and calendar reminders for the tasks you need to tackle, the same way you do in an office.
  • Work on A Timer – Procrastination happens because we become easily distracted from the tasks we’re supposed to be doing, and when that happens, we lost track of time. It’s not easy for some people to sit down for hours in front of their laptop, typing away and trying to stay focused on work. To overcome this, put yourself on a timer each time you need to get something done. It can be for 30 minutes, an hour, an hour and a half; it is up to you. But for that portion of time, put away all distractions and tell yourself you are going to do nothing but concentrate on work. When your time is up, then allow yourself a break, walk around, check your phone, anything you need to recharge for a moment before getting back to work.
  • Empower Yourself with Positive Beliefs – Replace your old limiting beliefs with beliefs that are going to empower you moving forward. Get rid of those old thought patterns that made you feel stressed, unproductive, and demotivated in the past and replace them with thoughts that will surge you forward on the path to success. Believe you deserve all that you desire. Believe that you have what it takes to make your dreams come true. You already got to this point where you’re not working from home like you always wanted. That shows you have the capability to do anything if you put your mind to it.
  • Make Time for Self-Care – You don’t have to be busy all the time. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re productive. Likewise, being productive doesn’t mean you need to be busy every minute of the day. Trying to do too much at once is how you clutter your mind and trigger intense, stressful emotions. When you’re burned out and worn out, you get even less done so give yourself permission to unwind and relax. This was one of the reasons why you wanted to work from home in the first place. Because you wanted to be able to find balance in your life instead of making it all about work and the stress of trying to do it all. Self-care is as important as getting things done because when your health is compromised, you get nothing done. So make time to go to the gym now that you don’t have to commute to work anymore. Make it a point to establish a healthy diet at home now that you don’t have the excuse of not having any time or being too tired after you’ve rushed home from work. All the things you previously did not have time for because you had to commute to work and you were stuck in the office under the watchful eye of many is now a thing of the past now that you’re working remotely. Take advantage of that.
  • Gratitude Everyday – Most of all, make time in your day to be grateful. It’s a privilege to live in a time when remote working is possible. Where we can have the best of both worlds. A new habit to develop that keeps your mind organize is to schedule time in your day again to log what you’re grateful for. Make it a point to list at least five things you were grateful for today. If you’ve got more, even better, write them all down. This exercise makes you actively think about the good things happening in your life. That despite the difficult day you might have had, there were still moments of positivity in it that brought a smile to your face. Taking the time to count your blessings is one approach to achieving more balance in your life.

Greater Clarity Comes With Meditation

Concentration is another big challenge that is faced by many who work from home. There will be some days when you can focus and concentrate better than others, and some days where you struggle to get through a single task. But how will sitting in silence for several minutes a day going to make a difference in the way you work remotely? It can be difficult to see the link between meditation and why it can make a difference to your quality of life and the way that you work, especially when you’re working remotely with a lot more distraction challenges on your plate.

There is no doubt the number one benefit that you might say will bring about the biggest difference to your quality of life. Dealing with stress is not as simple as simply avoiding what triggers your stress. Mental and physical stress can come can stem from anywhere. Jobs, finances, friends, and family. These triggers are not exactly something you can avoid forever. Our bodies and minds may be strong and tough, but there is only so much negativity that it can take before it starts to take its toll and affect our health, sometimes to a point where it could become unbearable. That’s when it becomes difficult to focus on work. Stress produces cortisol, and when that happens, our memory is impaired, our blood pressure rises, our sleep gets disrupted, and we end up feeling unmotivated and fatigued. Not to mention the fact that cortisol can eventually lead to more severe conditions like anxiety and depression too.

Many of us undergo undue amounts of tension in our everyday life, and sometimes the load can seem unbearable. One way to cope with this is to employ a simple breathing technique that can be utilized when you are under stress:

  • While keeping your mouth closed, breathe in and out through your nose quickly in short cycles but maintaining an equal amount for each breath.
  • Aim for three in-and-out breath cycles every second, after which you will breathe normally.
  • In your first attempt, do not do this for more than 15 seconds. You can incrementally by 5 seconds each time you do this exercise until you reach a full minute.

We can use meditation to change our perception and thoughts in negating these negative energies and begin to fully appreciate and live in the moment. We can begin our process of healing by following the steps below:

  • Find a quiet spot and sit down with your feet firmly on the ground.
  • As always, breathing and focus are key components in this exercise and I want you to first focus on these two parameters before moving onto the next step.
  • Once you have achieved a sense of calm and focus, you will need to be aware of your thoughts and emotions.
  • Also, pay close attention to any signs your body might be making during this process.
  • Take your time to understand your emotions and thoughts.
  • When you’re in this state, you will need to remind yourself that just because you made a wrong choice or put faith in the wrong person, doesn’t mean that you have to doubt every choice you are going to make in the future. Keep reminding yourself of this.
  • Focus on respecting your choices as much as you respect the choice of others.
  • Respect your opinion as much as you respect the opinion of others.
  • Establish that any choices you make are the best, as nobody knows you better than yourself.

Being isolated and working by yourself a lot of the time can lead to overthinking and negative thoughts. In order for you to achieve inner peace, you must negate al negative thoughts from consuming you and controlling your emotions. Using meditation, we can use its techniques to provide us with ways to combat negative thoughts:

  • Sit in a quiet, comfortable space, breathe, relax, and detach away from the rigors of everyday life.
  • Channel your thoughts and focus on what feels good to your senses. Don’t focus on the areas of your body that is in pain or uncomfortable. Realign your focus on areas that feel good.
  • Think of yourself as an ocean with waves on the surface but calmness and serenity beneath it.
  • Once you have achieved this state, you are more adept to any stimuli from your surroundings.
  • Try to hone in and listen more to your surroundings instead of trying to decipher or understand them.
  • Feel your breath throughout your body. Breathe slowly and feel each breath entering and leaving your body until you achieve a sense of stillness within you.
  • This is the level that you are trying to achieve, like a calm ocean floor. This is the calmness that you need to achieve every time you need to combat negative energies and thoughts that plague you.

Meditation is the number one self-improvement habit. If you could install one new habit into your life, it would be meditation. Just a few minutes a day is all you need to bring about incredible changes in your ability to gain clarity, focus, and concentration. The beauty of meditation is that it is simple yet powerful. Simple enough that anyone can learn how to do it effectively with the right tools, teachings, and techniques. Anyone can learn the art of meditation, and it isn’t as difficult as you may imagine. Sure, you may have tried it a few times and found yourself struggling in the early stages to quiet your mind and achieve a focus, calm, and mindful state, but that is perfectly normal, especially if you’re a beginner just starting out on this journey.

Meditation requires you to reconnect with yourself, mind, body, and soul. It helps you find your focus, feel centered, and feel more connected to your surroundings in a way you’ve never had before. Finding a quiet spot for you to meditate daily. If you can’t manage this daily, meditating several times a week would be good enough to start. Meditation is a great tool to help you feel centered emotionally again, teaching you to practice feelings of calm and learning to let go of all the stress you may have encountered during the day.

An extension of those meditation exercises mentioned above is yoga. Yoga comes with numerous health benefits, among which include improved flexibility, increased muscle strength, an increase in your body’s awareness, higher lung capacity and blood circulation through the movements that you’re encouraged to do, relaxation of your joints and muscles, even improved levels of concentration, discipline and focus. Unlike cardio and weight training exercises, yoga isn’t as demanding because it doesn’t place a lot of stress or strain on your body’s muscles. It is a different approach to exercising your body, focused on building strength and concentration while simultaneously helping you remain calm. It extends on the quick relaxation exercises by encouraging deeper muscle movements through controlled physical activity. Numerous studies have revealed that yoga could even help to reduce anxiety, which could be an anger trigger for some. When you’re feeling anxious all the time, you’re highly strung, and even the smallest of incidences could be enough to rub you the wrong way, and things get blown out of proportion.

Yoga requires a quiet spot for you to gain the full benefit of the calming technique. It’s also going to require more time commitment, 20-30 minutes of your time if you have that to spare during the day. If you’ve only got 5-10 minutes of your time to spare, that’s perfectly okay too, go with what works for you. Yoga’s effective relaxation techniques lie in helping you focus on controlled, slow, and deliberate movements.

Organizing Your Home Office

Is your home office wall cluttered with all kinds of stuff? It is set up in a way that is going to be comfortable and encourage productivity for several hours a day. Sure, you may have a desk and a chair, but the problem is that desk and chair you’re working with may not be designed for you. If you spend several hours a day slouching, reaching too far forward or hunched over while you’re typing on your computer, it’s going to lead to some serious health and posture problems eventually. You need to set up your work station ergonomically to avoid pain in the long-term, and the more comfortable you are, the easier it will be to concentrate on what you have to do instead of being distracted by the aches and pains in your joints.

Aside from being better for your overall health and to minimize injury, ergonomic workspaces improve your productivity. It’s easy to stay focused when you’re comfortable and not fidgeting left and right, trying to get into a comfortable position. Ergonomic workspaces are more than just making sure you’re in a well-lit environment or that your chair is comfortable enough. It involves the way your worktop is positioned and that it is adjusted to a height that promotes good posture for you. Your desk should be at a height that is comfortable enough for you to type and work for a long time if needed, and your chair should be designed to support good posture to avoid any muscle tension or aches and pains from sitting down too long. Here are several other things you can do to set up an ergonomic home office that is designed specifically for you:

  • Adjusting the Height of Your Chair – The average height of a work desk is between 29 – 30 inches tall. Some people might find this too tall or too short. That’s where a good quality chair comes in. You want to start off by adjusting the height of your chair accordingly, and when you do, your elbows should be bent to 90 degrees.
  • Get A Footstool – If your feet are not touching the floor when you’re sitting at your desk, this can quickly become an issue. To resolve this problem, invest in a footstool, and if you don’t have one, a ream of paper is going to be a good substitute.
  • Adjust the Height of Your Monitor – If you’re working with a desktop setup, your computer monitor should be positioned at about arm’s length and easy to read without straining your eyes. You shouldn’t have to bend forward or adjust your posture either to read what is on your screen. Raise the height of your computer monitor until the top of the screen is at eye level. Again, if your monitor is the type that does not have an adjustable height, your reams of paper are going to come in handy once more. Now, if you’re working with two computer monitors, you need to consider how you use them. There will be one primary monitor, and this should be the monitor that is right in front of you. If you use both monitors equally, then line them up so you are in the middle of both these monitors.
  • Raising Your Laptop Height – When you’re working with a laptop, a kickstand is going to come in handy in raising your laptop to the right height. You can use an external keyboard and mouse since this is going to be the more comfortable option to go with.
  • Positioning Your Keyboard and Mouse – The area of the table your mouse ends up is where you want your keyboard to be. Your mouse should be right next to your keyboard, allowing you to move from your elbows instead of your shoulders. This will prevent your shoulder muscles from being overused or too strained. The key is you do not want to be reaching for your tools.
  • Positioning Your Phone – If you require a physical phone other than your mobile for work purposes, you want to position your phone on your non-writing side. This means if you write with your right hand, you want to position the phone on your left and vice versa. This setup will prevent the need to cradle your phone against your shoulder, which can lead to serious neck pain down the road if you do it often enough. Alternatively, consider using a headset if you have to be on the phone quite a bit.
  • Light the Area Well – It can be hard to concentrate when you’re squinting and trying to get as close to your screen as possible to make out the words. Natural lighting is the best, although not always possible. If that’s the case, opt for ambient lighting to avoid the glare bouncing off your computer screens. When reading documents or books, an adjustable, low-glare lamp works best, so your reading material is always well-lit. Having to re-read sentences multiple times is not conducive to productivity, and the frustration of not being able to see is going to disrupt your ability to focus.

Finally, remember to move around and stretch during the day. We all have a tendency to start slouching in our chairs after 15-minutes or more of sitting there working. Get up from your chair every hour. Walk around, look out the window, stretch your arms, and stretch your legs. Take care of your body and avoid sitting at your desk for long periods of time, even if it is ergonomically set up. Most importantly, set up your home office in such a way that it is suitable for you and with minimal distractions. It’s a mobile world we live in these days. With more opportunities to work remotely and on the go, there may be times when we find ourselves having to work at different locations. When that happens, setting up your perfect space can be a challenge, but it’s still doable. Depending on where you are, make little tweaks and adjustments to your space until you feel comfortably satisfied with the outcome. Angle your computer away from any distractions. Clear the table of any clutter and put it aside temporarily. Put on noise-canceling headphones for better concentration.

Keeping the Team Spirit Alive

There has never been a better time for remote working than right now. But a genuine concern for many who are about to embark on this journey is that the relationship dynamics between colleagues and leadership might change. It is important to keep that relationship and team spirit alive, especially for a manager, so you don’t end up losing control over your employees. Managers need to acknowledge the fact that some of your remote employees may experience work FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) since they’re not around as much as their on-site colleagues. Working with others in an inevitable part of the job, even when you’re a remote worker.

Being a leader is not easy. The demands and the constantly changing environment makes you feel like you can never let your guard down. That you always need to be on your toes. Not only are you responsible for your work, but you are also responsible for inspiring, leading, and motivating a team of individuals under you to be the very best that they can be every day at work to achieve the set goals. If your team is a ship, you (as the leader) are its captain, and the successful navigation of that ship depends on how well you do at the helm. Juggling the different relationship dynamics within that team successfully so everyone can work as a cohesive unit. As the leader, an important part of your job is going to be ensuring that all members of your team, whether onsite or remote, feel a sense of camaraderie and are comfortable working with each other. To ensure the continuity of strong relationships even among remote employees, you’ll need to:

  • Put in Some Effort – Working remotely is not easy. It does require a certain temperament and skills to succeed, but these skills can be learned. The leader needs to make a deliberate effort to reach out regularly and encourage members of your team to do the same with each other. Relationships don’t happen overnight, even when you’re working on site. In a remote working setting, building relationships means having to rely on the proper channels to do so. Encourage your team to carry on personal conversations virtually to help maintain some normalcy and lessen the isolation that they feel. Let them know it’s okay if they want to talk about something other than work.
  • Use Tech and Collaborative Tools to Your Advantage – In the office, several types of conversations take place, and it’s a good idea to create the right channels for these conversations to happen so all your team members can be a part of it. If you’re using Slack, for example, you could create channels for work and for fun.
  • Encourage Accessibility – It’s not just the team leader that should be accessible. Everyone should. Encouraging video calls (not always to talk about work) can really put a name to a face so your people don’t feel like they’re only talking through email or chat rooms, which can at times still lack the personal, human touch. Seeing the different people, you’re working with at least once a week, even if it is through video, can build trust among coworkers.
  • Don’t Worry About Over-Communicating – This scenario is a lot better than lacking communication. There is no such thing as over-communicating when it comes to remote employees. It’s good communication. Encourage your remote team to reach out to you whenever they face a roadblock or find certain tasks challenging. Written communication is great, but it is prone to misinterpretation, especially when you’re giving advice or trying to encourage someone.

Major Software Tools You Need In Your Remote Working Toolbox

Work is better when you’ve got the right tools on your side, supporting your every need. As you prepare to make the transition into life as a remote employee or the leader of a remote working team, these are some of the tools you want to consider:

  • Slack – Some companies are perfectly happy using Skype or Skype Instant Messaging, but if you want to take it a step further, then Slack is one option to consider. It brings together applications, data, and people. Slack replaces the function of an email in your company. There’s a massive flow of information and communication happening in a company daily, and emails are only one part of it. Getting 20 to 50 work emails a day might be overwhelming to some, and if you’re in a hurry, something might get overlooked. Slack turns inboxes into messages and organizes those messages into channels. All members of the team on that channel will instantly see any updates that get posted, increasing the return on communication. It changes the communication dynamic from being individually focused to now a team focused one.
  • Zoom – It is essentially simplistic and powerful video conferencing software. It quickly replaced Skype and FaceTime as the popular video calling tool in 2020 when many people were forced to work from home. Online meetings, conferences, and even virtual schools are easy with Zoom.
  • – Another software that helps you thrive in a remote setting is Weekly schedules are among this platform’s best features. Working remotely, it is critical to know who is working on what days and on what documents and Monday makes it easy to track that. Users can also communicate changes in shifts in a section for updates. Meetings and recaps also make it easy for your team to stay in the know, no matter where or which time zone they are in. there is also a handy little location column, so you know where your team members are all the time.
  • Remo Conference – This is another platform for hosting virtual events. It’s easy to navigate, and it has segmented roundtable sessions that will instantly connect you to a shared video chat.
  • MeetFox – Yet another video conferencing tool that will allow you to coordinate your meetings run your video conferences, and even send invoices with minimal effort. If you’re looking for an all-in-one packaged deal, this is a pretty good consideration to explore.
  • Process Street – One of the best no-code workflow management tools out there. Think of this as a super-powered checklist, if you will. Easily walk your team through recurring processes. Automate your workflow easily, prioritize tasks, and make it easy for your team to follow well-written processes with no problem.
  • Google Drive – Mentioned here once again, Google Drive is by far the safest place for your file storage and management needs. Store files, documents, pictures, spreadsheets, presentations, and more.
  • 1Password – Never have to worry about your team forgetting or losing access to important passwords needed to access certain company material again. Since several of your employees sometimes need access to the same login information, make it easier for them and you by storing passwords in secure software like 1Password.

If you want to find these lists updated and just a click away, visit the website: https:// or go directly to the living book page: https:// remote-teams/

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Thank you for making it through to the end of Working Remotely, let’s hope it was informative and able to provide you with all of the tools you need to achieve your goals whatever they may be.

If you’re thinking about making the transition to full-time remote work, hopefully, this book has inspired you that it is going to be a decision you won’t regret. If you’re already remote working, you’re way ahead of the curve, and hopefully, you have found the information in this book useful to improving your current work from home system. Either way, remote working is the perfect solution to attain the work-life balance that many employees these days so eagerly want. There is nothing quite like the freedom and flexibility of setting your own schedule, working at your own pace and style, working from the comfort of your home or wherever in the world you may be, and being paid to do it.

Regardless of company shape and size, remote working employees are steadily growing every year. With new technology and software emerging all the time to support this need for remote work efficiency, it’s safe to say that one day, office spaces might be a thing of the past and no longer a necessity. Better productivity, greater levels of staff happiness, more motivation, reduced stress, there’s no reason why we would ever want to go back to the old way of spending hours in rush hour traffic and battling the stress of getting to work on time when there’s a much, much better option on our hands. Thousands, and possibly millions of employees today have already discovered what a joy it is to be working from home. Isn’t it time you were one of them?

Finally, if you found this book useful in any way, a review on Amazon is always appreciated!