How to Succeed as a Remote Worker: Q&A from the Experts

How do YOU stay motivated when working remotely?

If you’re wondering how you can be successful as a remote worker, we invite you to tap in and read what leaders in the remote work space are saying, including some tips from our very own Leilani Franklin-Apted from Unsettled!

This article by Porch Group highlights advice on how to increase productivity, find balance, and tips on how to find remote work opportunities, if you’re looking to make that transition along with the millions of individuals and companies that are going remote / leaping into hybrid and remote working styles.

As a company that has been remote since Day 1, we know that it can be hard, but once you find your flow and a working formula, remote work will open up doors to new opportunities, including travel, better work/life balance, and increased productivity, among many others.

If you’re looking to create a better remote and/or hybrid experience for yourself or your company, check out Unsettled Remote Labs to see how Unsettled can help you crack the code to remote work!

“Small things can unlock a ton of new momentum – like having a specific conversation to get clarity on something or doing a check in to set up more routine communication touchpoints – and when that is combined with a clear sense of what I am working toward (the WHY), it’s easy to keep going.” – Leilani Franklin-Apted from Unsettled

Full article from Porch below:

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All over the world, employees are increasingly being given the opportunity (or creating it themselves!) to work remotely, either from the comfort of their own home or from anywhere in the world. This makes for a very appealing option for many, especially those with a nomad lifestyle, a crazy schedule, or the responsibility of taking care of children or elderly loved ones at home. Unsurprisingly, remote work can also be a huge advantage for the company itself as it allows it to save on operational costs and other expenses, increase productivity, and improve employee satisfaction.

There is no doubt that working remotely offers a good deal of benefits, but it also requires discipline, organizational skills, and teamwork. With this in mind, we have reached out to the experts in the subject to help us put together a guide about everything remote work: how it works, its pros and cons, its challenges, and some pro tips to be a successful remote worker. Keep on reading to learn the basics of remote work!

 

What is remote working? 

Successful remote working simply means that your employer has agreed to allow you to work off-site during regular office hours. You might be granted the ability to work remotely 100% of the time or for a few days each week. If you spend 20% or more of your paid workday at home, in a coffee shop, or anywhere outside the traditional office setting, then you fit the definition of being a “remote employee.”

Remote work is offered with the understanding that your work productivity stays the same — or perhaps even goes up as workday distractions are eliminated. Perhaps the most critical aspect of any remote work arrangement is the ability of your coworkers to continue along with their tasks without skipping a beat. Colleagues who depend on you to provide support are never left waiting.

Immediately after connectivity with your coworkers — many would say it should come before connectivity — the issue of data security is paramount. Data breaches pose a serious threat to companies of all sizes, even Mom-and-Pop small businesses. Remote workers are often unfamiliar with the informed use of technology that must accompany working in settings outside the controlled office environment.

When, for example, a remote employee connects a company-owned laptop to an unsecured public WiFi network, he or she increases the risk of a data breach exponentially. Cybercriminals are well aware of the rise in remote work and actively scanning for unsecured data. Whenever they gain access to private customer data, a ransomware demand often follows soon after. More than a few small businesses — and some large ones — have gone out of business as a result.

The stability and longevity of these two core issues — the availability to colleagues and data security — nearly always comprise the success or failure of any remote work arrangement. Assuming that I can interact with an employee quickly and easily during normal hours of operation and that I have no cause to worry that sensitive company data is at risk, there’s really no reason to say no to a remote working arrangement. It all rests on the maturity and reliability of the individual employee.

-Kimberly Zhang at Under30CEO

How can I know if remote working is for me? 

Remote work should fit into the lives of anyone seeking a flexible schedule and increased productivity. However, many people are concerned that working remotely will leave them socially isolated, disconnected from co-workers, and less motivated to get work done due to personal distractions at home. These are all valid concerns! But don’t forget that working from the office can leave you feeling the same way – it’s all about you! If you’re a social individual, just knowing that there are other people in the office can subconsciously have you thinking about how to get involved in conversation. Or maybe a coworker decides to pay you a visit while you’re in a great workflow, derailing your focus. The office can end up being a social escape from the real tasks that need to be done. Of course, there are benefits of having an office – which is why some companies offer the hybrid model, remote and in-person – depending on where you’re located.

Technology has made remote work easier than ever! Between video conferencing apps, team management software, and an abundance of communication channels – it doesn’t much matter where you work from anymore! What a gift for our sanity and work/life balance! Remote work can be asynchronistic, too. This happens when companies hire employees from different time zones, leaving you to complete your tasks on your own time. So maybe the question isn’t about whether or not working remotely is for you, but rather whether you’re able to make adjustments to your working habits.

If you’re on the hunt for a remote job (or considering it) – be honest with yourself, the recruiter, and the companies you’re interviewing with. Ask them about team and company culture, how often they run meetings, how available the team is, and which software they use to collaborate, communicate, and engage! You may even be interested in: where their headquarters are, if there is an office in your area (in case you need a break from home), or how often they hold in-person team-building experiences. Preparing these questions will help you feel confident in your decision to “go remote”. It can be for you, I promise!

-Erica Pezza at Weekdone Team Compass

 

Can I be a remote worker without experience? 

In order to work remotely, you don’t need any prior experience. In fact, there’s no “right” way to work remotely, and millions of people all over the world—employers, employees, and contractors alike—are figuring it out as they go. Of course, an understanding and some experience in online communication will be helpful since almost 100% of your communication will happen digitally as a remote worker. Additionally, you’ll want to hone your ability to manage your own time, report on important metrics, and communicate clearly as these are all traits of a high-quality remote worker. If you’re worried about working remotely, don’t be! It’s not quite as different as you might think. Sure, it will take some getting used to in the beginning, but ultimately you’re just swapping conference rooms for Zoom meetings and watercoolers for Slack threads. As long as you work hard to communicate, you’ll be great.

-Preston Lee at Millo

 

Should I keep a regular schedule as a remote worker?

Even though your company provided you with the option of having flexible working hours, it’s still a good idea to keep a regular work schedule while working from home.

For starters, having a regular work schedule will give you that sense of normalcy we all crave.

Think about it: Before the pandemic hit, you had to wake up at a specific time so that you could get ready and make it to your workplace on time. You also had a set time to call it a day and head back home to be with your family.

Another reason to keep a regular work schedule is to make it easier for your colleagues, boss, and even clients to reach you.

As a remote worker, you’ll likely be working with people that live in different time zones. That can make communication more challenging than when you’re all in the same workplace and can delay getting tasks done.

But if you’re following a regular work schedule, your boss and colleagues know exactly when you’ll be available to respond to their queries or hop on a video call to get an update. It’ll also free you from the pressure of having to respond to emails and chat messages from them beyond your regular working hours.

The last—and perhaps, the most important—reason you need to keep a regular work schedule while working from home is that it allows you to have a healthy balance between your work and personal life.

Since you’re now working from home, you no longer have the same physical boundaries you used to have when working in the office. This means that you have to fight against so much more distraction than when you’re in the office.

When you decide to have a regular work schedule, you can then inform your spouse and kids of when you can’t be disturbed and when you can attend to their needs. That way, you can make sure that you meet your responsibilities both at work and at home.

–Kevin Payne at Kevin T. Payne

 

How can I have good communication with my team while working remotely?

Communication is key to working remotely, especially since you won’t be in the same physical location as your coworkers. One way to improve communication is to have daily stand-ups. Take 15 minutes each day to quickly review what everyone is working on and use it as a time to request any materials or ask for help from fellow coworkers. An easy way to do this is with Broadvoice’s all-in-one communication solution, b-hive Communicator. Conveniently talk, text, chat, and video conference with teammates all from one easy-to-use platform, no matter where you’re located.

-Karisa Tate at Broadvoice

 

What are the benefits of remote working? 

The biggest benefits of working remotely are:

– No commuting

– Building your perfect workspace according to your needs and desires

– More time for family, friends, and activities

– More time for deep work and higher productivity

– Working from anywhere in the world (Writing you from Cabo Verde)

– No need to move to a new country or city for a new job.

There are many others, but these are my favorite.

–Gonçalo Hall at Workfrom

 

How do I get ready for a remote work interview?

Whenever interviewing for a job position, you always want to make sure to put your best foot forward. This includes preparation for what questions may come your way, as well as presenting yourself in a professional manner. Typically you’d want to dress appropriately and make sure to spend a bit more time than usual on your appearance in order to make a good first impression. This is true regardless of interviewing for a job in person or remotely.

When preparing for a remote work interview, however, there are additional steps to take to ensure that things go smoothly.

Make sure you have a reliable, fast internet connection

It should go without saying that in order to be able to communicate effectively through a video conferencing tool, you must have a reliable internet connection. You should test the upload and download speeds to make sure there’s no latency. The ideal connection you’re trying to achieve is a minimum speed of 10 Mb/s for download, and a minimum of 1.5 Mb/s for upload. There are free speed testing tools on the web, such as Speedtest, which will provide you with results based on your current connection.

Minimize the background noise

It’s very common nowadays to work in coffee shops and cafes since many places have free public Wi-Fi for their customers. The problem with interviewing in such an environment is the potential distraction of background noise. Not only could it distract you from understanding what’s being said, but the sounds could also be picked up by the speakers on your device, which would then be transmitted to the other party. If possible, interview from a quiet room in your house. If there are family members at home during that time, give them a heads-up when you’re about to start, so they’ll know to keep the noise to a minimum.

 It would also be a good idea to use headphones, so as to prevent any kind of sound feedback.

Make sure your space is presentable

When interviewing remotely, think of it as inviting somebody into your physical area virtually. Keep a clean background, and remove anything that might come across as questionable or offensive. You might want to even have a bare wall as your background so that there are fewer distractions for the interviewer. Keep the lighting in mind as well. You’ll want to have good lighting, however, make sure the camera isn’t pointing directly at the light.

Do a preliminary test

Prior to your interview, reach out to a friend or family member and see if you can do a quick video conference to test out the internet connection, sound quality, and visual appearance of your physical environment. This would give you the opportunity to make simple tweaks to improve the experience of your remote interview.

-Pete at Skip the Drive

 

How can I stay sane when working from home? 

My best workdays are the days where I stick to my routine, which begins with a morning routine which in my case includes waking up 2 hours before I start work to have my coffee and read or listen to something inspiring, then exercising typically for 30 minutes, finally showering and getting ready for work.

I think it’s important to get ready as if you’re going to the office – I do wear something comfortable but I’d never ever wear pajamas to work even if nobody can see me:-)

Creating a separate space for work is important. When I moved into my current flat, the only place I could have a desk would be my bedroom but I really wanted to avoid working there, so I ended up working from my living room table every day.

I keep myself organized which I do by having a to-do list updated multiple times per day. I also keep my work area tidy as I find it helps me be more productive.

I try (it doesn’t always happen though as some days I am in back-to-back calls and meetings) to have a break either for a little walk or to cook.

I believe that one of the advantages of working from home is that it offers the freedom to plan according to our strengths and energy – personally, I prefer to focus on my priorities in the morning and have most of my calls in the afternoon.

I live on my own so I often plan some activities such as dinner in a restaurant after work to ensure I don’t spend the entire day at home.

Finally, whenever I feel a bit isolated when working from home, I remind myself of the benefits of not having to go to the office every day and a better work/life balance.

-Margaret Buj at Interview Coach

 

How can I balance my remote work and my home life when I have kids?

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the way people work, and for many, that led to transitioning their work to home and balancing work with myriad other responsibilities. In our research at Denison Consulting with a large federal agency, we found that Work-Life Balance was among the most important topics to employees during this transition time. Part of the feedback employees shared was how their work and life were blending together, and the distinction between the two was blurred when employees began working from home on a regular basis. This research also surfaced ways to manage work-life balance, including balancing remote work with raising children. While I’m not a parent myself (an important disclaimer!), I do believe many of these insights can help inform how to balance work and home life with kids, too.

First and foremost, it is important to establish a line of communication with your supervisor about your goals for balancing remote work and home life and discuss the flexibility available to you in your role.  Many people who transitioned to home during the pandemic were quickly forced to balance responsibilities at home with tasks and deadlines at work.  For parents, this often meant working different hours to accommodate morning and afternoon routines, and for many types of remote jobs, this flexibility is available.  Work with your supervisor to clarify that flexibility and set clear expectations around when you work.

One benefit of the increase to remote work is getting a glimpse into your colleagues’ lives.  When team members or clients make efforts to balance their home life with work calls, even live on the call, it’s okay to say, “Sorry, I need to step away for a moment to help my son log into his virtual classroom.” As long as kids aren’t distracting from the work and colleagues can be considerate of others’ home life, transparently bringing that aspect of yourself to work can enrich relationships rather than detract from them. Remote work often offers an opportunity to bring your whole self to work in new, unique ways.

Finally, it’s important to set clear boundaries and expectations. Maintaining productivity in new work settings was also among the most prevalent feedback we received through our research, and it was on the minds of both supervisors and their team members.  Despite new considerations with the increase to remote work, employees will still be held accountable for their ability to be productive in their job, and boundaries in the household that enable time to focus and be productive are key. This may mean maintaining consistent daily schedules or balancing kid-friendly workspaces with kid-free zones for deep work on key calls or complicated tasks. Partners, family members, and others can help make this possible through mutual support. Like many facets of working in a remote setting rather than an office, being intentional and setting expectations is key to success.

-Michael Schwendeman at Denison Consulting

 

How can I stay motivated as a remote worker?

When it comes to finding motivation as a remote worker I like to use a 3-pronged approach. Using any of the 3 parts will work, but together it’s an extra powerful combo:

Part (1) is the most obvious, which is finding motivating factors to engage with (such as having a sense of your role of the bigger pictures, tracking and celebrating your progress, etc…).

Part (2) is identifying and removing things that are demotivating or confusing you. The first prong is kind of a no-brainer and many of us are familiar with setting goals and rewards for ourselves. But that second prong can actually be even more impactful. Many of us are already some degree of self-motivated when it comes to our work and careers so taking intentional time to remove the things that are in the way of your natural flow can go a long way towards keeping you motivated. I like to use some simple questions like “what’s draining my motivation right now?” and then “what can I do about that?”. Putting words to something already brings one level of clarity and many times the things that are draining my motivation are structural elements I can adjust (the HOW piece of what I am working on, rather than the WHAT). Small things can unlock a ton of new momentum – like having a specific conversation to get clarity on something or doing a check in to set up more routine communication touchpoints – and when that is combined with a clear sense of what I am working toward (the WHY) it’s easy to keep going.

And there is scientific evidence to back this up! This is there is a lot of very interesting brain science around our chemical reward systems. The latest research shows that we actually get chemical rewards, like dopamine, anytime we feel we are on the right track –  not just when we get to the end or achieve the desired result. So anything you can do to give yourself clarity, find your flow, and cultivate a sense of how you are moving in the right direction will help unlock your natural motivation.

The last part, part (3) is really just a little extra backup system, which is to remind yourself that no matter how you are feeling in the moment, you are never as stuck as you think and that you can always try new ways of approaching things.  It’s about giving myself blanket permission to do something differently, experiment with a new element, or change things up. This is the last piece of the motivation puzzle as a remote worker – remembering that I don’t just have the responsibility to keep myself motivated but I also have the opportunity to do it and in many different ways to explore!

-Leilani Franklin at UNSETTLED

 

Which will be the top 5 remote jobs in 2022? 

The Top 5 Remote Jobs in 2022 are….just about any jobs! The pandemic has necessitated that all kinds of companies around the world convert their practices to remote forms. So the range of remote jobs available is huge! Remote work isn’t just for IT professionals and creatives anymore.

Not only that, but more and more technology and programs are being developed to enable workplace teams to communicate, collaborate, get the job done and be productive along the way. So as 2022 gets underway, I anticipate we’ll see even more jobs going online.

I recently interviewed a woman named Agnes Nyamwange for a show I host called The Remote Work & Travel Show. She is from Kenya, but she lives and works around the world. What makes her situation unique is that long before the pandemic, she converted her job to be remote, even though her industry is not remote-friendly at all!

So if you want to work remotely, it’s a good idea to get clear on what you want, what you can do, and be prepared to get creative. If you want it badly enough, you can make it happen.

-Nora Dunn at The Professional Hobo

 

How often should I take breaks when working from home? 

As a knowledge worker with ADHD, short frequent breaks are absolutely essential for maintaining my concentration throughout the day. I rely heavily on the Pomodoro Technique to prevent burnout, improve mental clarity, and reduce stress.

For the uninitiated, the Pomodoro Technique works like this:

  1. Set a Goal: Determine your core focus for the upcoming work period; the key thing is to determine what is on-task and what is a distraction.
  2. Focused Work Period: Set an interval of time where you’ll be fully engaged with your task. This is typically 25 minutes, though I’ve found that closer to 30-40 minutes gives me enough time for focused work without draining me too much.
  3. Short Rest: Once your work period is done, take a 3-5 minute break. Stand up, stretch, do a few reps of a light exercise, stare at the sun, unclench your jaw, go to the bathroom, drink water or anything else that invigorates you.
  4. Repeat x3: Repeat steps 1-3 until you reach four short break periods, then take a 10-minute break. Repeat as many times as needed to complete your task.

As simple as it sounds, these microbreaks make all the difference for my productivity as a remote worker. Every time I’ve tried to remain 100% seated and on-task until my lunch hour I’ve lost far more time fighting to focus than I ever have lost from my Pomodoro breaks.

Thanks to this time and energy management technique I can remain focused on my tasks, check-in with myself to ensure that I’m not overcommitting to a minor part of my project, and I end (most) workdays with ample mental energy for the other priorities in my life.

Truthfully, I’d have never had the courage to try this technique out in a traditional office environment. I’d have been far too concerned about the optics, especially if I had a manager that valued input and time-in-seat more than the quality and timeliness of my work.

Thanks to the rise of remote work I can structure my work style in a way that truly accommodates my needs and allows me to perform at my best—far better than I ever have in the office.

-Dale Strickland at CurrentWare

 

How can I stay healthy while working remotely?

Whether we like it or not, working online has become a dominant modus operandi all around the world. In large measure, this is due to the protracted pandemic and related restrictions, as well as a general business trend aimed at advancing operational efficiency.

Over the years, I have been successfully providing writing services to a broad range of customers. In the last few years and for the reasons above, I have been working remotely.

While convenient and cost-effective, working remotely might turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It has its downsides, which I have had to deal with to remain successful in my job. They include:

  • Risk of social isolation
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Stress
  • Demotivation

At some point, you might feel like you’re stuck in a rut or hitting the wall. Don’t let the above factors slow you down or punt. Make every effort to turn the tide. I recommend a set of action points you can take purposefully and on a regular basis to remain on top of your game.

Physical exercise. This is perhaps a perfect time for hitting the gym. If you dislike free weights or cardio, pick a sports activity you enjoy, come up with a regular routine, and stick to your game plan.

Workspace. Be serious about organizing your workspace at home. It has to be comfortable, clean, and quiet to avoid sundry distractions and disruptions.

Regular breaks. Don’t schedule back-to-back calls or sessions without any break whatsoever. You need breathing space, however brief, in between your working sessions to avert burnout.

Socialize. Leave time for face-to-face meetings with friends or colleagues. Simple things like having lunch together have a positive influence on the quality of your work directly and indirectly.

Healthy diet. Don’t let yourself disregard the importance of healthy nutrition. Junk food might be fine once in a while, but you need a balanced diet to keep up your energy levels.

The bottom line is that you cannot remain insulated against the risks facing remote workers worldwide. They affect everyone from country to country and from culture and culture. The good news is that there is no need for some secret sauce to weather the storm. The point is that you must assess them objectively and come up with and stick to a set of recommended actions, which have already been proven effective.

-Nicole Garrison, an experienced writer at the best essay writer service

 

How can I avoid distractions when working remotely?

As a Mompreneur with two young children (5 years and 3 years) distractions seem to be just a part of the workday. Many times it is hard to focus completely because even if they are entertained or even not in the room, there are always things popping up either in the mind or on the phone, computer, etc.

There are several things that can help even with the biggest distractions in the room.

First, most likely the biggest aid is to know exactly what needs to be done and turn off any other apps, notifications, etc. except for what is needed for that task. For example, if I am writing a blog post, I like to write in Ulysses, in full screen and I shut down my browser (email) and turn off notifications. This way I am mostly concentrated on the task at hand.

Another tip includes using built-in features to the new iOS (there might be similar features in Android OS) to set various focus times. On all my Apple devices I have a “Work Focus” that turns off personal calls, most notifications, and only alerts me of certain things.

One of my favorite things to do, to help with distractions, also includes having a block schedule. I make a game out of how long things will take and I block out my calendar for those blocks of time. I do my best to keep to the schedule and only work on the task at hand that I have for that block of time.

Last, but not least, when the distractions are loud, I tend to pop in my headphones and try to listen to some classical music or music that will help me focus. This works especially well when at a coffee shop or if the boys are being particularly loud with their toys.

Distractions are just a part of life, especially as a Mompreneur, small things that can help minimize them can help you be more productive even with some distractions.

-Cousett Hoover at Techie Mamma

 

Can I have more than one remote work?

Yes, you can have more than one remote role you just have to make sure you are well organized, open with each employer, and don’t try to work both roles during the same hours.

To do a good job you need to focus, multitasking is not the answer to productive work so keep that in mind when considering tasks and roles to commit your time to.

Consider what time you have available, other demands on your time like family, hobbies, exercise, etc.

Make sure that you are open with your employers about the work you’re doing. Hiding other work or jobs from them suggests that you feel the need to hide the fact which could make it difficult to build trust and a successful long-term relationship so be very careful about how you handle this.

Most remote employers are very understanding about these situations and if they have concerns you can discuss the specific areas of concern with them and discuss how you can make them feel comfortable about you working multiple roles.

Above all don’t over-commit yourself. Doing two things badly just reflects worse on you.

-Noel Andrews at JobRack

 

How can I become a Virtual Assistant? 

To become a virtual assistant, you need three things:

  • On-demand Skills
  • A great portfolio and
  • Clients.

While these can intimidate you, they shouldn’t. All you need is a clear plan and walk your way through it.

Step 1: Decide what services you’ll be offering.

First, you need to decide what type of virtual assistant you want to become. From Real Estate, Website Management, General Admin, Graphic Design to Amazon VA, there are lots of options to choose from. The type of virtual assistance service you choose should solely depend on the majority of skills that you already have.

Next, identify all the skills you need to become the type of  VA you’ve chosen. If you find that there are skills that you aren’t quite well versed with yet, you can decide to either upskill or exclude those from your offer packages.

Step 2: Put together offer packages and a portfolio

Having a website is a great way to get started. Nothing fancy. Grab a theme and a drag and drop website builder like Elementor and put together a simple but professional website with pages such as Home, About, Services, Portfolio, and Contact pages. You can throw in Testimonial and Project pages if you’ve got some.

Step 3: Start Looking for clients

One way to get clients fast is to use freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. To build a portfolio fast on these platforms, you will need to price your offers relatively lower than the pros and make sure to overdeliver in order to get 5-star reviews. You can then gradually increase your rates as you onboard more clients.

Step 4: Improve your offers and start charging more

As you continue working with clients, add projects and testimonials to your portfolio website, with permission from them, of course. Once you are confident that you have what it takes to demand better pay, think of cold pitching. Find prospects in your niche and send them super personalized pitches.

Other channels you can leverage to land high-paying clients include Facebook groups and LinkedIn. With Facebook, find groups where your ideal clients hang out, join and start sharing your tips, stories, and advice. You can let people know you are a VA without doing self-promotional posts. Craft your wins in such a way that you provide value at the same time.

On the other hand, LinkedIn is all about starting a conversation around your industry. However, before posting on LinkedIn, spend some time optimizing your profile to appeal to your target clients. Update your profile description to be warm and inviting while clearly stating the value that you bring to your clients.  You can then start sharing actionable tips and insights on your industry while staying true to your brand voice. Do this on a consistent basis and potential clients will start noticing you and checking you out.

-Mysson Victor at The PennyMatters

 

Is it possible to work remotely while traveling? 

Yes, it’s definitely possible to work remotely while traveling. In fact, being able to work from anywhere – including while traveling the world – is one of the biggest perks of remote work. I think the key is to create a remote work environment while you’re traveling and to remember that you can’t be on vacation 100% of the time. You need to schedule in time to work.

For me, my ideal remote work environment while traveling starts with having a good workspace. If I’m going to be working while on a trip, I prefer to stay in an apartment over a hotel where I can create a workspace on a table or desk. Having a kitchen also allows me to prepare some meals at home if I want to stay in and work, instead of heading out for meals. Having a dedicated workspace helps me get into work mode, and it’s a lot easier to work from a table than a hotel bed.

The next step is to ensure your schedule is conducive to both traveling and working. For me, this means slowing down. If I want to spend three days exploring a new city, I’ll extend my stay to a week so I have time to get work done without missing out on any sightseeing. I generally prefer slow travel and experiencing local life anyway, so this aspect of travel and remote work suits me.

I also find it helpful to schedule dedicated work and sightseeing times into each day. For example, I may make it a routine to work in the morning and sightsee in the afternoon, or vice versa. Other people prefer to do a few full days of work and then take time off for sightseeing. You also want to make sure anyone else traveling with you knows that you have to work. Give them your schedule ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect out of the trip.

Lastly, attitude is a huge component when it comes to successfully working from the road. If you look at your travels as just a vacation, work can feel like it’s constantly getting in the way. And if you spend all your time working, you miss out on exploring the place that you’re in. Striking the balance, looking at yourself as a part-time sightseer, and appreciating that you get to work in a cool new environment is how remote work and travel go hand in hand.

-Riana Ang-Canning at Teaspoon of Adventure

 

How can I be found for a remote job by companies? 

Finding remote work is something that is getting easier to find, but just like any job, it doesn’t mean it’ll land at your doorstep. You have to look in the right place.

Often companies label jobs as “hybrid”, “flexible working” or “open to remote”, but these all can mean different things. Flexible working may mean core working hours but flexible working times, rather than location. Hybrid may mean you can work remotely 100% of the time but visit the office as and when you wish, or some have a quota that you must be in the office a certain amount of days a week. Some UK-based companies are happy to hire remote workers but within the UK, and some may require semi-regular travel to the physical premises. When looking for jobs, it is always important to clarify your commitments with the company.

Haystack is designed for those working in tech, which is an industry with one of the highest proportions of remote workers. When looking for jobs on Haystack, you are able to select your preferences to “remote only”, where you will only be shown fully remote jobs with little or no requirement to visit physical premises. There are other job boards that specialize in remote work in all industries, and recruiters who help place individuals based on their preferences of remote working – you just have to find them.

Lots of companies are open to hiring remote workers if you’re a great fit for the company and the job, so even if it’s not labeled as open to remote, it’s always worth reaching out and asking the question! The importance of a good work-life balance has become even more evident post-pandemic, so companies are reacting to this and adopting new policies and procedures to ensure a happy, healthy workforce.

-Alice Pinch at Haystack

 

How can I know which type of remote work job is good for me?

There are four main types of remote work, and there will likely be emerging alternatives in the near future. You can break down remote work into these four categories:

– Digital Nomad

– Work From Home (WFH)

– Part-Time, Side Hustle

– In-the-Field

Remote work horror stories are not about “remote work” as much as they are about “remote work done poorly.” Remote work done well is freeing, empowering, and boosting productivity and value. From an employer’s side, we need to evaluate the nature of the work products and what is possible in terms of offerings to employees. On the employee side, it is imperative to be vocal and express needs and wants with employers. The Great Resignation to me should ultimately be renamed The Great Reflection because it is slowing people down in some aspects to really evaluate what the workplace should look like. Architecting sound and sustainable systems for communication and working whether as individuals or teams, is imperative as well.

Digital Nomad. Being a digital nomad comes with as many freedoms as there are barriers. These digital nomads are working without an office to wherever the wind may take them. This is a small group of people overall, but if you are savvy about logistics and responsible, it can be an adventure.

WFH. This is the largest group of people. Working completely from home. You need to adopt technology and systems to ensure cohesion and success.

Part-Time, Side Hustle. These are your freelancers and people in the gig economy. This can bring in extra cash and even fulfillment.

In-the-Field. This is often overlooked. Repair teams, delivering services to people in homes or businesses. They are not working in any single location.

Hybrid. Remote work and office work – this is a challenge. How do we do it? This is perhaps the most challenging remote work model to successfully master. It is essentially still remote work but gives some of the benefits of working in an office in person.

Whichever sounds best to you, make sure you go and find that type of opportunity. The worst thing you can do is work in an organization that doesn’t offer you the flexibility you need and want. It’s not good for you, or for the organization. I also recommend people go and find the type of work they want because there are so many employers offering specific styles of working.

-Chris Dyer at Chris Dyer

 

How can I find remote jobs?

Since the start of COVID-19 companies who were once reluctant to allow their employees to work remotely suddenly had to find a way to make a remote workforce work. If you’re looking for remote work, you’re in luck because never in the history of work have there been so many remote work options.

If you already have in-demand skills then you have a good shot at finding remote work. You can start your search on traditional job sites such as LinkedIn or Indeed, which now feature thousands of remote jobs. Remote-only job sites are also wonderful resources to find remote opportunities around the world.

If you’re new to remote work, you’ll quickly learn that remote positions come in all shapes and sizes: hourly, salary, part-time, full-time, freelancer, employee, self-employed, location- and time zone-independent (or dependent), and ranging from entry-level to highly skilled. There’s more to remote work than your typical 9-5, which gives you numerous options. And you don’t need much to start, just a reliable WiFi connection.

An option for those who don’t have the necessary skills to go remote is to build new skills! Here is a list of some of the most in-demand roles that can be done remotely:

  • Freelance Copywriters and Content Writers
  • Digital Marketing and SEO Specialists
  • Translators
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Community Managers
  • Social Media Managers
  • Web Designers/Web Developers
  • Editors/Proofreaders
  • Video Editors
  • Client Success/Client Services
  • Transcribers
  • ESL Teacher

Last, can your current position be done from anywhere? If so, it’s certainly worth asking your employer if working remotely is an option, especially now that the world has gone remote.

-Cepee Tabibian at She Hit Refresh

 

How can I successfully manage my time as a remote worker? 

As a remote worker, I think it’s important to understand when you best work. This isn’t the same for everyone. Some thrive in the traditional 9-5 timetable, others have “active hours” early in the morning or even late at night. For me, I know I’m most productive in the morning and in the evening. This means I usually take an extended break around lunch to eat, work out, and refresh my mind. This means I’m working during my most productive hours, making the most of the time I have.

Aside from understanding the best times to work, I also use a time tracking plugin on my browser (Toggl). This helps me organize tasks, keep accurate time records, and see a breakdown of how I’m spending my time. It’s always surprising to see my biggest time-wasters, and it’s helped me identify better ways to spend my time. Since I juggle a lot of clients and activities for my remote business, it’s easy to get them all jumbled together. Getting into the habit of using Toggl makes my life a lot easier.

Last but not least, I build time into the day for breaks and mental health. Remote work makes it really easy to fall into the traps of burnout. The last thing I want to do is to lose productivity because I’m doing too much. I build time into my day to take care of my body and mind, and it makes me a stronger worker. I would highly recommend all remote workers consider what hours they work best and consider ways they can leave space for fun and family. Remote work shouldn’t be your entire life!

-Samantha Tetrault at Samanthability

 

How can I find my first remote work?

Working remotely is an amazing way that can enable you to create the perfect work-life balance, whether you’re trying to skip the commute, avoid water-cooler moments in the office, improve your family life, amongst many other reasons.

Considering that now the ability to work from home is becoming more available, companies that want their employees to work remotely all the time can still be somewhat of a challenge to find.

Let’s look at a few ways that you can consider to ensure you are first in line to find a remote job:

Get future-proof skills for remote work

Ask yourself, what is it that I have a passion for?

Can this job be done remotely?

Do I have the right skills?

You can then consider getting the necessary remote job skills that will help you gain remote work. So consider retraining and up-skilling in courses for future-proof remote professions. Some skills that are in high demand for remote work are the following; Web Development and Software Engineering, Copywriting, Web Design, Digital Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service to name a few.

CV and Cover Letter makeover

Ensuring that you have the highest quality CV and a tailored cover letter for each of the roles you are applying for is a critical part of standing out online and then actually getting hired for a remote job amongst the competition. Make sure that you cover things such as your overview, work experience history, skills such as communication, and being self-motivated for example.

Find the remote job of your dreams

Go out there and use websites that actually work. For example, visit remote job boards such as Search Remotely and you will find thousands of remote jobs currently available around the world. Alternatively use the remote job filter on Linkedin and there are plenty of remote opportunities over there too

Finding a remote job does not have to be hard. If you follow some of the necessary tips and tricks that we discussed above, you will be able to secure some interviews and be one step closer to landing an awesome remote job.

-Christian Carella at Search Remotely

 

Can I become a Virtual Assistant without experience?

The biggest benefit of being a virtual assistant is that you don’t need a whole lot of experience before getting hired. Employers would rarely –– if ever –– ask you to show them relevant experience doing a similar job previously.

As a virtual assistant, you get to choose everything from your working hours, to the type of employers you’d work with, to the type of niche you’d cater to, to the type of service you’ll provide.

The first step is figuring out what your primary skillsets should be. For example, if you’re interested in email, you could focus on that exclusively. Or, if there are multiple areas that interest you, focus on spreading yourself out evenly amongst them. But I’d recommend being a specialist than a generalist.

The niche you choose to serve decides how much you need to know to get the work done. Some of the most popular services across high-paying niches are ––

  • Content creation for blog posts or articles.
  • Social media management.
  • Email outreach, management, and/or screening.
  • Marketing tasks like link building.
  • Financial services like bookkeeping.
  • E-commerce tasks like syncing up with the vendor.
  • General administration.

After deciding what kind of virtual assistant you want to be, your next step is to learn the skills you need to do your job. This will largely depend on the VA service you’re using and what skills they require, but it’s worth watching some tutorials on YouTube.

Most employers hiring virtual assistants would have standard operating procedures (or SOPs for short) in place, which is just a fancy term for step-by-step guidelines on how to do your job according to their preferences.

Next, talk to people in your network who may be interested in your services. If they seem interested, offer to do some work for them on a trial basis and see if they want to hire you more full-time.

Being active on Twitter, proactively replying to potential employers, and advertising yourself as a VA in the bio is a must. There are many job boards & freelance marketplaces too, that’d list jobs across various niches for virtual assistants.

And lastly, gather social proof like testimonials and reviews from clients you’ve already worked with.

-Daniel Wolken at DailyRemote

 

How can I fight loneliness while working remotely?

If you’re new to working remotely and experiencing loneliness, first know this: You are not alone. We’ve onboarded a lot of people over the last two decades, and more often than not, loneliness, isolation, disconnection—whatever you call it, it rears its head. We give all our new team members these hard-won tips for mitigating loneliness and encourage them to share their own.

Tip 1: Connect through the work

If your default way of building a connection with team members is through body language, water cooler chat, and those unplanned moments of social interaction that happen regularly in shared offices, your instinct may be to engineer opportunities for non-work chit chat and/or to see your remote teammates face to face. And while those things can be helpful, they shouldn’t be a remote worker’s social bread-and-butter. Why not? Because while in colocated workplaces those opportunities are embedded, in remote workplaces, they are additive. As such, they require extra effort. Simply put, you will exhaust yourself (and perhaps your teammates) if you try to shoehorn in-office strategies into your remote workplace.

Instead, focus your energy on working more transparently. Share your processes, your works-in-progress. Ask your teammates for feedback and offer yours when asked. When you get stuck, don’t suffer in silence; ask for a volunteer to help you talk it through.

This sort of interaction tends to pack less of a loneliness-busting punch at the moment, but over time it builds a sense of openness and trust that’s more fertile ground for interpersonal connection than we think cake in the break room could ever be.

Tip 2: Practice interdependence

Depending on how asynchronously your remote team operates, you may feel more like a solopreneur at times than a member of a team, but you are not. Do something every day if you can that gets you out of your bubble and reminds you that you both need and are needed. Generally, we feel one or the other more naturally, but both are true. When you forget that you need your coworkers or forget that they need you, loneliness gets harder to resolve.

Tip 3: Give it time

On colocated teams, it’s possible to feel like you’ve got a toehold on the office social scene within a week, sometimes just a few days. Expect that sense of belonging to flower more slowly when working on a remote team. Give it a year, not a week. This is a whole new way of working. Finding your way will take time.

Managers, you can help! Schedule regular 1:1’s with your direct reports and give them space to talk through difficulties. Encourage cross-functionality within your organization. Bake in paid time for socializing (we do this with a daily, 15-minute coffee break). Works towards greater workplace transparency. Most importantly, allow yourself to need and be needed. If your team members see you practicing interdependence, it’ll be easier for them to practice it too.

-Holly Harkener at Daycast

 

How can I improve my work-life balance? 

Creating and maintaining a work-life balance over the past two years has been increasingly challenging for many remote workers. 7 in 10 Americans working from home during COVID-19 are struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

So how do we create a better work-life balance for those of us that are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or even burnout? What can we do to ensure 2022 is a healthier and more sustainable year for us in our working and personal lives?

There’s a difference between being able to work remotely and being truly effective at remote working.

When we think of remote working, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to believing someone will succeed as long as they can effectively do their jobs. There’s a deeper level to being successful as a remote employee, manager, and organization.

To manage ourselves and each other in an online or multi-office environment, we need to have a high level of self-perception, how we see ourselves, understand ourselves, and how well we identify our own emotions.

The autonomy that comes with working remote, and primarily alone, means we should be tapped into ourselves as individuals to better make decisions that promote our overall well-being.

Working without in-person interactions daily means we need to adjust how we express ourselves online.

We need to build self-awareness in order to create a better work-life balance as remote workers.

Strategies for Action To Build Self-Awareness And Better Work-Life Balances Remotely:

Create one healthy boundary each day: It could be to take a lunch break or to finish work at a certain time. Maybe you want to prioritize a lunchtime walk? Whatever it is, block it out in your calendar as a non-negotiable for your mental health.

Understand your triggers: What are the triggers that cause you to overwork? It could be seeing work emails on your phone or even leaving your Slack notifications open on your desk. Being aware of our triggers can ensure we put habits in place to protect our personal time and energy, like removing Slack from our phones.

Check-in with yourself daily: Before you start your day, check in with how you are feeling. What do you need today to feel at your very best? How can you ensure you create time for what you need?

Be aware of your emotions: By being aware of your emotions, you have the power to change your emotional reactions to situations. For instance, in a situation of intense pressure, force yourself to smile, or relax your posture and roll your shoulders. You will be surprised by the change in your emotional reaction. If you feel heightened emotions and a sense of burnout right now, I have a free burnout reflection guide here that can help you feel better about your work-life balance. 

Create your strategies: Choose three emotions (e.g., fear, anger, elation) and write down five techniques that you can subtly use to change your emotional reaction. The more strategies you have at your disposal, the more emotionally agile you will become.

Ask for Feedback: Solicit feedback from colleagues you trust and who know you well. These trusted associates can provide candid information about how your emotions impact them. Rather than navigating the office with an “emotional blindfold,” this knowledge will empower you to alter your emotions, allowing you to achieve the desired effect and help you to manage your mood more effectively.

-Shauna Moran at Operate Remote

 

How can I improve my remote team communication?

The key to improving remote team communication, and the effectiveness of your remote teams in general, is through encouraging better self-care.

This will only become more important in the office of the future. Work will always have a remote component at this point. Employees who once relied upon managers for guidance on schedules, breaks, etc. now have to set those things for themselves in many cases. As a company leader, you have to help guide team members towards making healthy decisions.

First of all, make sure to use the latest internal messaging tools to help you interact quickly and easily with colleagues. Encourage open and fun interaction on the community channels that everyone has access to. Then, show that you care. Do this by being flexible. Let workers set their own schedules when appropriate. Have them determine their own breaks each hour or for lunch.

I have a colleague whose company lets him work from 3p to 11p each day. He runs errands or enjoys time with his family earlier in the day. Then he works in the evening and has a “lunch” break for dinner with the family at around 7. This schedule lets him complete tasks on his own time and communicates more efficiently and easily than he would if he’d been forced into an earlier shift.

Perhaps the most important factor for improving remote communication is your attitude. Make sure you show interest in how team members are doing. Showing empathy will go a long way in letting the team see you care about them as more than just cogs in the machinery of the business. Make sure workers know you’re available if they need an ear to listen to any problems they’re having at the job or even at home. Make yourself available for an impromptu Zoom call if needed.

-John Boitnott at John Boitnott

 

How can I designate a space for working at home? 

When it comes to figuring out how to work remotely, you need to make sure that you are separating your personal life from your work life. It is really easy to blurry the line and let your work life start to take over your personal life. It’ll be 10 pm on a Tuesday or 3 pm on a Sunday, and you’ll catch yourself doing work when there is no chance you’d be working those hours pre-remote.

The first tip is to not have your desk in your bedroom. It is important to have good sleep hygiene, and you don’t want the stressful energy of working carrying into your bedroom and disrupting your sleep. It may sound silly, but it is proven to help improve your sleep when you let your bedroom serve solely for sleeping and not other activities.

The second tip would be to try and keep it out of the way. Don’t let your desk constantly be screaming in your face, reminding you of the work that you have. Let it sit in a location that isn’t the highest-trafficked part of your home. As outlined in the book, Atomic Habits, don’t make it obvious. If your desk is always in front of you, where you normally are hanging out during non-work hours, then you are making your work very obvious and thus passively encouraging yourself to keep thinking about work.

On the same note, during your workday, if your desk is somewhere that allows you to be easily reminded of non-work-related activities, you will have a more difficult time concentrating. You need to balance the two. Find a spot that doesn’t interfere with your personal life, but also a spot that lets you maintain focus on the work in front of you when it’s time to work.

Try to find a spot that has some sunlight and look to purchase some plants to put on your desk. Those two tricks tend to lead to more optimistic moods, which translates to higher productivity and higher work-life satisfaction.

Wrapping it up, working at home can be very advantageous, but it can also suck you into a place that takes away from your personal life. Make sure you set up your desk to properly navigate your two worlds.

-David Pawlan at Aloa

 

 

What is most crucial to your work-from-home setup?

The essential pieces of remote office equipment are a computer, a phone, and a dependable internet connection. These three elements are vital to any work-from-home setup.

Reliability is critical for office equipment, and it’s important to consider this in every aspect of your home office. For example, your desktop computer or laptop must have all of the appropriate software installed that you need to do your job. It should also have the RAM necessary to ensure you can work reliably, along with cloud or physical storage. Finally, computer security is critical. You must ensure that security software is run regularly to keep your information secure and private.

Another piece of equipment upon which you likely depend is your phone. Use your cell phone to test reception and locate any dead zones where you do not have reception. Not every house has appropriate cell phone coverage. If coverage is a problem, you might want to look at installing a landline phone system, VOIP system, or switching carriers.

Finally, ensure that your internet connection is reliable and that you have the correct upload and download speed requirements, as well as an ethernet connection. We recommend setting up a backup for your internet in case it goes down. Some remote workers set up a hot spot via their cell phone to use when wifi coverage fails.

Accessories and Furniture

It is crucial that you are comfortable while working, so the next category includes the accessories and furniture you need to make your home office work for you.

Here are five essentials for the modern remote office:

Comfortable chair and desk: So many remote “offices” are really at the kitchen table or on the couch. This setup is not comfortable in the long term unless there is some other benefit to the workspace. If you are genuinely working in your home, get a designated chair and desk set up exactly as you like them.

Headset: Invest in a good headset with noise-canceling functions, especially if you are working in a noisy environment or sharing the space with other household members. This will help you to focus on your work even if you aren’t on a call.

Microphone: Your microphone may come in combination with your headset, but it’s vital to check both to ensure your communication is clear and easily understood.

External camera: Many of us are working with the webcams that came with our laptops. But if you are primarily working through video, a good external camera can make a big difference in how you come across. Additionally, if you are doing presentations or video interviews, investing in a complimentary camera setup is a smart move.

Lighting: Excellent lighting will not only help you when presenting over a video conferencing app, but it can also improve your mood and make your work environment more comfortable. Do your research and purchase the right lighting for your home office needs. You can find good lighting that is relatively inexpensive but can make a big difference to your workday.

On top of these five essentials, it’s important to consider additional accessories and furniture to create the most comfortable and productive work environment possible. Here are a few other elements that you should consider including in your home office upgrade:

  • Second monitor
  • Laptop stand
  • External keyboard
  • Wireless mouse
  • Printer
  • Scanner
  • File cabinet
  • Paper tray
  • Cord organizers
  • Pinboard
  • Appropriate shelving
  • Plants

All of these elements will elevate your home office to improve productivity so that you can spend more time doing what you love.

-Adi Klevit at Business Success Consulting Group

 

Although it may not necessarily be a walk in the park, remote work does offer more flexibility, a better work-life balance, and for many, higher levels of job satisfaction. If such an opportunity is available to you and you aim to make the best of it, be sure to follow the experts’ advice for not only efficient performance and outstanding results, but also for a happier, fulfilling career.

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