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How to get better at remote work

Most of us who have been in the work world for a while have witnessed plenty of changes over the years–everything from how we search and apply for jobs to how we handle our professional responsibilities have undergone massive shifts, largely due to technological innovation and shifting economic and cultural forces that have transformed how companies do business at every level.

Simply put, today’s work world is radically different than it was just a few years ago, and the divide between those who choose to keep current and those who remain stuck in the past will continue to grow. This also includes where we work–for many workers, the days of commuting to an office to begin work at 9 a.m. and head back home at 5 p.m. are dwindling. The notion of businesses requiring a “bricks and mortar” office space is becoming increasingly obsolete and more and more businesses are allowing their employees the opportunity to work remotely, either full time or on a flexible part-time basis.

In many ways, it has been a win-win situation for employees and employers alike. Employees get to save the time and costs associated with commuting each day and have been given the power to handle their work responsibilities from the comfort of their homes, a coffee shop, or wherever they find themselves at any given moment. It also provides them with a greater degree of flexibility toward maintaining a healthy work-life balance, a subject that has gained increasing attention in recent years as questions revolving around whether or not we’re working too much as a society are gaining more attention. Companies benefit by reducing their operating costs and maintaining a freshly engaged and motivated workforce who can re-channel time spent commuting into their work. Reducing geographic requirements for employees also opens up opportunities for hiring talented individuals from a larger and more diverse pool.

While it may seem as if working remotely can be the ideal arrangement, there are some potential pitfalls to be mindful of–having to focus on work amidst life’s distractions, feelings of isolation and disconnection to cope with, and more. If you work remotely or are considering the merits of doing so, think about employing the following strategies for handling the set up effectively.

Choose your location wisely

Remote employees are given the gift of working from wherever they choose–a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Are you the type who’s easily distracted? If so, then don’t work at a place that’s filled with people or things that will derail you from getting work done. Choose an environment that’s conducive to focus and free from unwelcome distractions that will sap your concentration, energy, and productivity. This may require some trial and error on your part–if you pick a workspace that ultimately turns out to be problematic, then make a course correction and select another one. For many people, working remotely may require a real period of adjustment, and nothing can make this potentially challenging arrangement even harder than trying to work in a location that makes it difficult to do so.

Keep connected

As mentioned earlier, working remotely can be an uncomfortably isolating experience for some, which can have a potentially negative effect on your health and job performance. But the truth is, working remotely doesn’t have to mean working alone. Instead, try joining the growing number of people working remotely in public places as wide-ranging as libraries, coffee shops, restaurants, and other public venues with free wifi and getting to know your fellow telecommuters. With a bit of effort and luck, you may find yourself building new connections and making new work friends in no time.

Also, make a better effort to stay connected to your coworkers, who may also be struggling with the same feelings. Make the most of social networks and video conferencing tools to keep in touch on a regular basis. Keep each other up to date on how things are going by using available messaging resources (Skype, Slack, etc.). Organize after-work events and activities with colleagues so you can see each other more often. Make an effort to stay connected, and don’t forget that work friendships are just like other types of friendships–they require effort on your part, so nurture them carefully.

Remote responsibly

Just because you’ve been given the opportunity to work remotely doesn’t mean you have to do it every single day–for many folks that’s simply too much time spent outside of the office. Many companies that offer telecommuting as an option still provide a dedicated workplace to come into should employees choose to do so. If you’re lucky enough to have this option, then find the home-office balance that works best for you–not only will this help you stay connected to your colleagues and what’s happening at work, it could go a long way to ensuring that you remain a happy, engaged, and productive employee.

Stay current

These days, there’s a wide array of tools designed to help employees work remotely at peak levels. Those who transition most effectively to this work arrangement and consistently remain successful make a real effort to stay on top of the latest and greatest resources available to help them do their jobs. Depending on your industry and position, be sure to keep up on what’s out there–from apps for project management to task organization and reporting, video conferencing, sales aggregation systems, and much more.

Working remotely can really open up a whole new world of options for employers and employees alike, but for many workers, it can be a challenging adjustment. Use the strategies and advice presented here to help you make the transition successfully–and to be an effective, successful, and satisfied employee while doing so.

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