Many companies have switched to working remotely during COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. For many, this transition can be painful – especially if you’re not used to working remotely.
In this article, we’re looking into ways to organise your remote work process and stay sane while self-isolating during the COVID-19 outbreak.
What you’ll learn in this article
- Top 5 practical tips for working remotely
- Striking a work-life balance as a parent who works remotely
- Advantages and disadvantages of working remotely for employees and employers
- Is remote working effective?
- Why are remote workers more productive?
- How to find remote jobs
- The best jobs to work remotely (part-time and full-time)
- Deciding if remote working is for you
Working remotely is a means of doing your work in a non-traditional way; not only can you work from home, but you can do so wherever you wish. This is different from a “work from home” job, as “working remotely” is a way of work while “working from home” is just temporary.
As you can imagine, there are several benefits to working remotely, such as better efficiency and no commute. But is this work style right for you?
In this article, we’ll discuss the details of working remotely in 2020 and if you should make the switch.
Top 5 practical tips for working remotely
Our top practical tips to keep in mind when starting out on your remote working journey:
1. Start by setting up the right space
The most important element for any kind of creative work is to find dedicated working space. If you share a space with a partner or have the kids home too, simply plopping your laptop down on the kitchen counter and thinking you’re all set isn’t going to work.
You need to be able to get your job done without getting the way of others that share the house with you. Try to find a space in your house (other than a bedroom) where you’ll set up your office.
2. Gear yourself with the right equipment
Without the right equipment, you might as well head back to the office. You need the following to complete basic tasks in your home office environment:
- Laptop or computer (preferably newer and reliable)
- Stable and reliable Internet (it’s worth paying a bit extra here)
- Secure access to your company’s internal network or intranet, drives, etc.
- A phone, preferably mobile and hopefully paid for by a/your company. Most remote jobs require very few phone calls, however.
- A headset of some kind (especially helpful during calls).
- A proper desk and chair setup, free of distractions. This needs to be in an appropriate room or space.
3. Create some structure for your day
You need to structure your workday by planning out which tasks need to take priority and how many hours you will spend on your work, or each job. You also need to schedule breaks so that you’ll stay productive and ready for the next challenge.
There is a difference between efficiency and productivity, and without a set structure in place, it is easy to get distracted.
4. Use flexibility to your advantage
If you are getting the work done and keeping up good quality standards with regards to deadlines, you should be able to work during your most productive hours, which is part of the beauty of having a flexible schedule.
Unless your boss expects you to be able to communicate in real-time during company business hours, you should take advantage of the time you have on your hands and get as much as possible done during your most productive hours.
5. Ensure you are always online
As a remote worker, your most important bills will not be for software upgrades or new computers; they will be for uncapped, unshaped fibre Internet. Your smartphone and apps like Dropbox will ensure that you’re always online and available when your team needs you most.
Striking a work-life balance as a parent who works remotely
How does breastfeeding while replying to urgent emails sound? Or what about driving around in circles until your toddler falls asleep just so you can make that important call in peace? And placing your sick child in the care of way too many hours of Disney Junior because you’ve got deadlines to meet.
Welcome to the sometimes-brutal side of working from home. For the growing number of parents that choose to work from home, a couple of curveballs can easily send your hard-earned work-life balance crashing to the ground. Just last year, a BBC dad had an epic facepalm moment when his kids burst into the room while he was doing an interview.
All savvy working parents know that it takes much more than just a home office to make remote working work across the board. You’ll need to deploy some conscious effort and specific, effective tactics. Here’s where to start:
Explain it to your kids — Kids find it hard to understand the world of work. But even small children can hear that “Mommy (or Daddy) has to work to earn money to take care of our family.”
Explain to your kids that you work from home so you can spend more time with them too. Make sure they understand when you’re “at work”, perhaps by sharing your schedule with them.
For smaller kids, more obvious visible cues work well. Once you’ve set these expectations and stick to them, your kids will get used to the rules and likely learn to follow them.
Do NOT try to multitask — Juggling parenting and working almost always lead a screwup in one of the two departments. The idea is even backed up by research. Outline times that are specifically for work and times that are specifically for the family.
Create an actual calendar too if you can. This will separate what you focus on during which parts of the day. If something related to your kids interrupts your working hours, just stay focused on resolving the problem instead of trying to multitask.
Batch tasks strategically — If you find small pockets of time to work during the day, you can obviously use it to get as much done during those periods as possible. Batching your tasks can be beneficial in this way. Let’s suppose your kid takes a two-hour nap, use that time to write all your reports for the week. You can then do other tasks like editing and replying to emails after the kids have gone to bed. This keeps you focused on one thing during each period of working.
Call in some help — Every family out there has a caregiver situation. Whether you have a nanny or your kids attend daycare, you will need some kind of help at times if you work from home. Don’t feel ashamed to have someone else take care of your kids while you’re working from home. Yes, you got into remote working to strike a better work-life balance, but we all need a little help from time to time.
A note on work from home scams — Obviously, work at home jobs have come a long way from the old “make money stuffing envelopes” ads. But, according to Rat Race Rebellion, for every legitimate job out there, there are still more than 50 scams. This means that anybody looking to earn a living without leaving the home must be very careful.
Before you go all in, make sure you do your homework on potential work at home employers. Ensure the company is established and double-check their online presence. Give them a phone call and ask for the person you are being interviewed by. Like with any other job, there should be an application and probable interview process. Anybody who is legitimately trying to hire someone will want to meet or at least have a proper screening conversation with applicants.
No job should require you to incur any out-of-pocket expenses before you can be hired. If a remote working opportunity requires you to pay any kind of fee upfront or invest in a “startup kit”, it is definitely a scam. The only thing you might need to invest in is fast and reliable Internet, and if you don’t already own one, a high-quality audio headset.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of working remotely?
You may think there are only benefits that come with remote working. But as with everything good in life, there are always drawbacks; remote work is no exception.
Below, we’ll explore both the advantages and disadvantages of remote working so you can weigh them up for yourself.
Advantages of remote working for employees
Some advantages of remote working for employees are:
- No commute (commutes are getting longer and longer)
- Work whenever you want (you’re not confined to the 9 to 5 schedule)
- Work wherever you want (you can work anywhere where you can get a stable internet connection)
- No need for childcare (you can stay home with the kids)
- No office distractions (no gossipy coworkers will stop by your desk)
Advantages of remote working for employers
The advantages of remote working for employers are:
- Better employee productivity (they work on their own terms when they’re most motivated)
- Better employee happiness (this can facilitate lower turnover)
- Less overhead (don’t have to pay for as many computers, desks, office supplies, etc.)
- You can rent smaller office spaces (you have fewer in-office employees)
- Access to a larger talent pool (you’re not just limited to employees in the local area)
- Less training required (most remote workers already know how to perform their jobs)
- You can pay lower salaries (there are fewer costs for employees so they’ll be more understanding about lower pay)
- You don’t have to offer many extras (such as health insurance or pension schemes)
- You’ll have workers around the clock (remote workers located across the pond can take care of issues while your in-office employees are off work)
Disadvantages of remote working for employees
Disadvantages of remote working for employees include:
- No participation in company culture (you won’t get to bond with your teammates as much; in-office workers can have after-work activities)
- Loneliness (you’re on your own wherever you’re working)
- Easy to overwork (with no set schedule, it’s very easy to work more than 8 hours per day)
- Also easy to underwork (with no boss looking over your shoulder, you might slack off more)
- No spontaneous collaboration (as you’d get when gathering in person)
- You need to purchase your own equipment (devices and software)
Disadvantages of remote working for employers
The disadvantages of remote working for employers are:
- You need to have lots of trusts (employees can slack off without you knowing unless you have them install remote tracking software; this can cause unhappiness and make your workers think you distrust them)
- Collaboration can be more difficult (video chats aren’t the same as interacting in person)
Is remote working effective?
Yes! When employees don’t have to commute and can work wherever, whenever they want, they tend to get more done. In fact, a two-year Stanford study found that working from home increased productivity by 13%.
Also, remote workers work an extra 3 weeks per year, which adds up when you have projects on time crunches. Also, employers can save thousands of pounds by decreasing the necessary office space.
Why are remote workers more productive?
Remote workers are more productive because they’re usually paid per project. It’s in their best interest to finish the tasks up as quickly as they can while offering quality services.
Also, they get to control when and where they work, which puts them in a better mindset whenever they sit down to handle their tasks.
How to find remote jobs
One of the first things you need to do to find remote jobs is to browse openings. This is similar to when you’re searching for a traditional job; you need to get on the right platform to find these openings, and you need to apply to as many as you can.
Initially, you may not hear back from many companies, or they may outright reject you. But just remember to keep your head up and to persevere. As long as you’ve spruced up your CV and sell your strong points, there’s bound to be a client or two that’s an ideal fit for you.
The best jobs to work remotely
The best jobs to work remotely really depend on what industry you’re in and what your goals are for this type of work. For instance, do you want to work part-time or full-time? Plus, there’s a big difference between being a developer and an accountant.
Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of industries where remote work is possible. Keep reading to find out what the best remote jobs for full-time work.
The Best Full-Time Remote Jobs
Want to take on a full-time job as a remote worker? That’s certainly possible. Here are some of the popular ones:
- IT Jobs
- Graduate Jobs
- Human Resources
- Customer Service
- Admin Jobs
- Accounting and Finance
Deciding if remote working is for you
Now that you know all the advantages and disadvantages of working remotely, you may be considering making the switch in 2020. While it can be daunting to completely overhaul the type of work schedule you’ve always known, it can end up being highly rewarding.
Not only can remote work give you more freedom to travel and see the world, but it can also enable you to become your own boss. In the end, if you manage your work efficiently, it can vastly improve your quality of life.
However, do understand that remote work isn’t for everybody. If it doesn’t work out for you, then don’t force it. Only you know and feel what’s right for you.
Are you ready to start working remotely? Then browse some vacancies now.