In its early years, working from home or remote working scenarios were seen as a “lazy way out” to earn a living. Freelancers and work-from-home (WFH) Moms were often sneered at for not taking nine-to-five office jobs.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit on a global scale, it was the remote workers who thrived and kept the economy going while those who worked exclusively in offices struggled with the shift.
Even companies who didn’t have remote working incorporated into their business structure saw major difficulties in shifting to WFH, with some shutting down completely.
With the pandemic still far from abating, the demand to shift to WFH has increased.
In fact, those who once criticized remote workers are now seeing the benefits, including more productive hours because the tedious traffic commute has been eliminated, no more in-office stress, and improved work-life balance.
If you are thinking of making the shift to WFH, here is a complete guide on what you need to know, whether you are an employee/solo entrepreneur (like freelancers) or an employer/business owner.
Hopefully, this guide on the basics of WFH will enable you to make a successful shift from an in-office scenario to a more flexible, relaxed home environment.
How WFH Employees, Freelancers, and Solo Entrepreneurs Can Remote Work Efficiently
The success of any WFH project is largely dependent upon the employee/freelancer/solo entrepreneur’s ability to work efficiently at home or any place outside the official work environment.
Let us now take a look at how you can perform remote work with greater efficiency and effectiveness:
1) Have the Right Work Set Up
Most freelancers already know that employers look for remote workers with the right equipment. This would include the following:
Computer or laptop with sufficient RAM and storage for software and apps to be used for work
- Stable and reliable Internet connection
- Software and apps that are required for installation in your computer
- Secure remote access to your employer’s internal network or intranet
- Access to company or business emails (preferably have a single email on which to receive work-related emails)
- Work phone
Once you have the equipment, find the best place in your home so that you can work without distractions.
While you can work in your bedroom, that nice, comfy bed might prove to be a temptation. You can convert a guest room or any quiet spot in your house into your own private office.
2) Set Working Hours Wherein You are Most Productive
The great thing about WFH is the flexibility in working hours, giving you the opportunity to choose the times when you are most productive.
Most prefer the regular nine-to-five schedule. Others who love the faster Internet speeds between evening and the wee hours of the morning prefer the graveyard shift. Outside of these hours, you can do your regular household chores.
It is very important that you are able to shut yourself off from all possible distractions and just concentrate on work.
Inform your family before hand on your WFH schedule so that they will not bother you during this period. This is especially important if you have deadlines coming up.
It must be stressed that breaks should be a part of your WFH schedule. You need to allot certain times for eating that important meal or for simply recharging, so that you can go back to work fully rested and energized.
3) Maintain Open Communication Lines
To be able to work efficiently, you will need support from your employer and his/her in-office staff.
It is best to maintain communication using an email or phone number reserved exclusively for work. Some WFH staff like to receive instructions in black and white through email to avoid any mistakes in the work.
For more serious issues that white through their email. One great communication tool that you can use is Slack.
For issues that need to be addressed on the spot and face-to-face, you should have video conferencing software installed on your computer/laptop, like Zoom or Skype.
4) Use Project Management Apps
While most employers will tell you which projects need to be prioritized, in some cases, they may have too much on their hands to provide sufficient instruction and guidance.
To be able to manage your projects wisely and efficiently, consider using project management apps if your employer is not doing so already. One such app is Trello, wherein you can arrange the projects listed in movable cards according to their priority.
5) Track Your Work Progress
With WFH, you might be tempted to procrastinate and do something else.
One of the biggest distractions is your very own computer, causing you to browse the Internet when you are starting to feel bored with work.
There are online apps that not only track your work progress, but can also take screenshots so that your employer can know if you are plugging away on a project or watching Netflix.
6) Always Keep Accountability In Mind
Remember that you are accountable for the work that you deliver to your employer.
They have the expectation that the finished product you submit is up to their standards.
So, if you are experiencing problems or challenges with a project, be honest enough to tell your employer about them.
Many problems that remote workers face is the lack of resources and information that can only be obtained within the office.
Your employer can send you the information you need through email or they can give you permission to physically visit the office to do your research.
7) Make Time to Meet and Socialize with Your Employer and Other People in the Company
Just because you WFH, it does not mean that you should limit yourself to work-related issues.
If in-person meetings are asked of you, then make it a point to attend.
Aside from that much needed interaction with a fellow human being, this will allow you to get to know the people you work for and with, their personalities, passions, and goals.
Doing so will enable you to realign your personal goals with that of the company’s goals.
8) Always Be Mindful of Your Health
Health practitioners have been warning about the sedentary lifestyles of people who work in offices.
You should be mindful of the fact that WFH may also cause you to be more relaxed. Always make it a point to exercise or do any physical activity that you enjoy outside of your work hours.
Instead of bingeing on snacks while working, have healthy alternatives like celery or carrot sticks with yummy dips on hand.
Another aspect of health and wellbeing to look out for when working from home, is to watch for WFH burnout. Check out our article to spot the signs of burnout and for ways to overcome it.
How Employers Can Manage a Remote Staff
During these COVID-19 times, employers cannot afford to lose their businesses because their staff are prevented from going on the job due to lockdowns and quarantines.
If you, as an employer, are planning to make that shift to WFH in your company, here are some tips that you need to keep in mind.
1) Invest in WFH Technologies
The time is now to incorporate remote technologies into all aspects of your operations, including file sharing, data storage, communication and HR, if you are to keep their businesses running.
Another important consideration is greater data security, especially if your business information is of a confidential nature.
2) Set Clear and Defined Expectations from Your Remote Staff
While it is true that employees have greater control over their work schedules, employers should still make it very clear and define what they expect from their remote staff.
This would include stating which tasks or projects are to be prioritized, general and specific objectives of every task/project before going forward, the number of work hours per day, number of work they should complete per day or per week, whether you want daily or weekly updates, and, in case problems or issues arise, the times that you are available and how you can be contacted.
Make it a point to demonstrate to your remote staff the link between the projects that they are doing and its role in the progression of overall business goals.
3) Regular Monitoring of Work Progress
Schedule check-ins throughout the week to determine work progress.
By doing so, you can find out from your remote staff if they are facing problems or challenges with the work. Aside from giving them much needed advice, you can also assign extra assistance if needed in order to complete the work.
In some cases, you may also allow them to go to the office in person if the tools and information they need can only be found there.
4) Practice Effective Interaction and Transparency
One of the problems with WFH is the lack of human interaction.
While many remote workers breathe sighs of relief that they don’t have to deal with stresses and conflicts with bosses and other co-workers, they still need human interaction to keep motivated.
When scheduling meetings with your remote staff, always make sure that you not only inquire about the project at hand and how they are doing. Offer them support and advice to boost their morale.
Consider updating them on the latest happenings in the office, both good and bad.
Always remember that your remote workers still want to feel that they are a part of the team and don’t want to be forgotten just because they are working from home.
Your transparency about office issues also promotes feelings of solidarity and trust that, together, you can work out these problems.
5) Put Your Trust in Your Remote Staff
Some employers feel that they should be monitoring and contacting their remote staff frequently.
This, however, causes feelings of distrust to arise in both the employer and the remote worker. If you have valid cause to worry about a remote worker, it is best to address them directly and determine the problems that they are facing.
Give them your trust and support that they can accomplish whatever tasks you give them.
If you’re still have questions whether working from home is more or less productive, check out out blog post on the topic too.
6) Be Open to Feedback
As an employer, you should also be open to receiving feedback from your remote staff.
This involves being open-minded to any suggestions that they can give in order to improve work output and working relations. Encourage your remote staff to be honest about existing work challenges or if there are certain anomalies being perpetrated by other staff members.
Whether you’re an employee or an employer, consider applying these usual tips for a successful shift to a work-from-home scenario!