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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.
Remote work has become the new normal for an increasing number of professionals. In fact, one study reports that 71% of companies are permanently allowing some type of remote work.
Successfully adapting to a transition to remote work is essential to ensure you thrive.
It’s undeniable that remote work offers numerous benefits, such as ditching a commute and working from the comfort of your own home.
However, it also introduces some challenges, like maintaining clear communication with your team, staying motivated, and establishing boundaries between your work life and your personal life.
But if you take the time to strategize for remote work success, you can overcome the challenges and maximize the perks with the following five steps.
1: Set Up Your Workspace
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Your first order of business should be establishing a comfortable workspace that promotes productivity and minimizes distractions.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time in your home office, so you’ll need more than the kitchen table.
Choose Your Physical Space
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When setting up your home office, focus first on maximizing productivity. Choose a quiet work area away from distractions, such as the TV or household noise.
If possible, a separate room with a door can help create a clear boundary between work and home life.
But even if you don’t have an entire room, you can get a little creative and dedicate a small space as your home office. The physical boundary will help prevent your work life from oozing over into your personal time.
Design for Productivity
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Once you’ve mapped out your workspace, design your home office to promote efficiency and comfort.
Consider factors such as ergonomic furniture, lighting, and room temperature. If you have an entire room, design a layout allowing you to access your tools and resources easily.
Even without a separate room, you can personalize your space with decorations or motivational items that boost your mood and help you stay focused.
Invest in the Right Tools
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You’ll need a reliable computer, so double-check your company’s remote work policies to determine whether you’re responsible for acquiring your own computer or if your company will provide one.
Also, don’t automatically assume that your internet connection will be sufficient, especially if you’ll have others at home trying to stream or connect simultaneously. And if there’s any software specific to your company and your role, ensure you can access it from home.
Furthermore, ergonomics can significantly impact your productivity, so ensure that your office chair and desk are comfortable.
And consider any smaller accessories you might need, such as noise-canceling headphones and traditional office supplies, like pens, paper, and staples.
Mitigate Security Risks
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You’ll be responsible for ensuring that your work data and computer are protected. Be mindful that your home Wi-Fi network and all the devices attached to it are up to date.
And not only are you responsible for your own devices, but you’re also responsible for anyone else that logs on to your network.
Begin by assessing the smart devices connected to your network, such as Ring doorbells or smart thermostats. It’s crucial, now more than ever, to keep your devices up to date with security patches.
For added protection, consider implementing a virtual private network (VPN) and encrypting your files. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your company’s security policies and computer access guidelines.
And remember, if you choose to work outside your home, using a hot spot is considered the best practice. Avoid relying on public Wi-Fi to safeguard your sensitive information.
2: Optimize Productivity and Time Management
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Once you’ve set up your space, it’s time to create a foundation for your routines and time management.
Establish a Routine
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Maintain a daily routine that helps you stay focused. Try to develop a consistent morning routine, such as getting dressed and eating breakfast as if you were going to the office. Set specific working hours, and try to stick to them.
Remember to take regular breaks throughout the day to stay refreshed and motivated.
For example, explore the Pomodoro Technique. With this time management method, you’ll work for a defined number of 25-minute sessions and then take a short break.
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Establish boundaries between your work and personal life early on. Designating your workspace is the first step.
Avoid working from your bed or other leisure areas to maintain a clear distinction between work time and personal time.
You’ll also need boundaries for yourself and for others in your life. Maintaining a schedule can truly be the difference between thriving and struggling.
Share your work schedule with others to minimize interruptions and distractions during dedicated work hours.
Clearly Define Your To-Do List
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Do you know what to do when you sit at your desk each morning? Have a clear understanding of your tasks and priorities by creating a to-do list and breaking down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps.
There are several different ways to prioritize your tasks. You just need to find the one that works best for you. Regularly update your list throughout the day as you complete tasks, and adjust your priorities as new ones get added.
Remember to be your own champion before taking on too much of a workload. Don’t give in to the urge to agree to every assignment. Be realistic about what you can handle along with your current workload.
Before taking on a new task, verify next steps with your manager if taking on something new will make it challenging to complete your other assignments on time.
Also, don’t say yes only to find yourself routinely putting in extra hours. Try some of these tips to find a task management strategy that works for you:
Set specific deadlines for each task
Assign a level of importance to each task for better prioritization
Update your manager with additional resources or steps required to complete the task
Schedule Time for Organization
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Organizing and planning are critical to avoid feeling overwhelmed. A daily cleanup and shutdown routine can help you stay organized.
Spend a few minutes each evening checking your progress, updating your to-do list, and setting goals for the next day. It’s also helpful to schedule regular time at the end of the day to tidy up your office space and give everything a light cleaning each week.
These simple yet effective habits will leave you feeling prepared, confident, and ready to tackle any challenges that come your way.
3: Prioritize Communication and Collaboration
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Effective communication and collaboration are vital to success when transitioning from on-site to remote work.
Stay Connected With Your Team
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Even though you’re working remotely, maintain connections with your colleagues. Keep your team updated on your work progress, ask questions when necessary, and offer assistance when possible.
A daily work schedule makes it easier for teammates to know when you’re available for discussions.
Get Familiar With Collaboration Tools
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Many companies, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Asana, use collaboration tools for efficient remote work. Familiarize yourself with your company’s preferred tools to participate effectively in your workplace.
Take advantage of instant messaging, file-sharing, and collaborative document editing to streamline workflows and stay on the same page.
Get comfortable with both asynchronous and synchronous communication.
Communicate With Transparency
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Transparent communication is vital to maintain trust and promote collaboration, especially while working remotely. Clearly articulate your expectations, goals, and progress.
Also, without the visual and social cues found in an in-person setting, it’s important to assume positive intent in all written communications. Without a tone to establish intent, it can be easy to misconstrue sentiments.
So, before you assume someone is being rude or insensitive, ask for clarification. When in doubt, overcommunicate, rather than assuming your colleagues understand your thoughts or actions.
The more you work to build rapport, the easier it will be to communicate with ease. Encourage open, honest discussions, and don’t hesitate to reach out to colleagues for support, guidance, or clarifications.
4: Support Your Health and Well-Being
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We cannot stress enough how crucial it is to care for your health and well-being for a successful transition to remote work. To help you maintain your wellness, we’ve compiled some of the best tips from our research over the years.
Balance Work and Life
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Adjusting to remote work might blur the lines between your professional and your personal life. To maintain a healthy balance, consider the following:
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Working remotely might mean spending more time indoors. To combat this, get creative in your drive to move outside and consider the following:
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Incorporating regular physical activity into your daily routine is essential for staying healthy while working from home. Simple activities include:
Be Intentional About Socialization
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It’s essential to stay connected with your coworkers and maintain interpersonal connections. Here are some tips:
By implementing these strategies, you can successfully transition to remote work and support your health and well-being in the process.
5: Maintain Your Career Progression
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When working remotely, it can be easy to lose sight of your career goals and miss out on opportunities for growth and advancement.
That’s why it’s crucial to be intentional about maintaining your career progression while working remotely.
Understand the Expectations
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Ensure that you and your manager are on the same page about your work. This includes your goals and targets and the performance indicators that will be used to evaluate your success.
Gather a list or create a plan in writing that you and your leader can access. Update it and reference it regularly.
Don’t hesitate to seek clarification from your managers and colleagues if any areas are unclear.
Schedule Regular Check-Ins
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Establish routine check-ins with your manager and team to stay connected and provide updates on your progress.
During these check-ins, use the time to discuss your accomplishments, address any concerns, and ask for feedback.
You’ll often get the most benefit by setting a clear agenda when you’re discussing your progress with your leader. That way, you’ll use the time efficiently and ensure you’re staying on track.
Leave each interaction with a clear focus on what you need to work on next.
Develop a Plan
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A well-defined career development plan ensures steady growth toward new certifications and promotions.
Begin by detailing your short-term and long-term career aspirations. Expand your plan with skills or credentials you’ll need to reach each stage.
Then, create a realistic timeline to achieve these objectives.
After crafting your plan, collaborate with your manager to align your goals with the company’s growth targets. Remember, this isn’t a one-and-done conversation. Consistently check in on your progress and seek feedback from your manager.
You can adjust or access additional resources to stay on the right path.
Transitioning Successfully From On-Site to Remote Work
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As you transition from on-site to remote work, implementing these strategies will ensure you’re prepared for any new challenges that might pop up.
Adaptation and growth are all part of the process; with time, you’ll find your rhythm in a remote work environment.