According to the Australian government, 3.5 million Aussies are opting to work from home accounting for a full third of the workforce, up from 20%.
Only recently has telecommuting been possible on this scale, thanks to the digital revolution.
And as a relatively new phenomenon, many of us lack the experience or know-how to make the most of our new working arrangements. Some of us have never had the opportunity to work from home before!
We’ve written about productivity hacks for business owners managing virtual staff. But what about for the virtual staff members themselves?
If you’re considering applying for home-based role, here are some useful tips that can boost your productivity and can help you save your time.
Tip #1: Set a regular work routine
While you might be in your home office or snuggled under a doona, you’re still meant to be working. You can’t just work when you feel like it or roam around the house freely!
In our opinion, the most successful virtual staff and remote workers are the ones that set themselves a regular work routine. And unlike an in-office role however, as a remote worker you have the power to set that schedule.
- Does the traditional 9-5 make your eyes glaze over?
- Do you take a long time to wake up?
- Perhaps you work best when work is broken up into chunks with breaks in the middle?
Remote working is self directed… you have the power to make your own workday (within reason, of course). Whatever helps you work to the best of your abilities, work it into your routine – get creative!
Of course, you’ll want to make sure you clear this with the rest of your team first. Have an honest conversation with your bosses, laying out your schedule and determining whether it fits with your team’s goals.
Here’s a hack that’ll make your life easier: sync your calendar with your coworkers’.
This tells your coworkers when you’re reachable. More importantly, when you’re not in the office, it’s easy to fall out of the loop regarding meetings and appointments!
Tip #2: Make your own work goals and stick to them
Remote working brings freedom, which the best employees need to thrive.
But on its own, freedom mightn’t be enough. You need something to work towards.
Finding motivation while working from home keeps you on your feet and away from various rabbit holes that can get you off-track.
That’s why creating work goals every day is such a big deal. Not only does it give your bosses with proof that you’re getting things done, but it also serves as a remind of what you need to prioritised on any given day or week.
For example, let’s say you’ve been tasked with transcribing 100 audio files per week. How many files should you be completing per day, and how many hours should you allocate per day?
This advice applies to any worker – who hasn’t faced their workstation without doing anything, thinking “what comes next?” But it’s especially important for remote workers and virtual staff, where the onus of staying on task is entirely on your shoulders.
Tip #3: Ignore all distractions
The home can be distracting, we know.
Pets, kids, the alluring comfort of bed… when you think about it, it’s a miracle that remote workers get anything done. And it’s even harder to believe that remote workers are often even more efficient than their in-office colleagues!
No boss or team leader checking your computer screen is liberating to some workers. To others however, it’s an open invitation to scroll through Twitter or check how your Ebay listing is doing.
In our experience, one of the best ways to avoid the temptation is by setting aside break time for it. Why not set aside 5 minutes every hour to get your social media addiction out of the way?
Not only does it protect you from distractions, but in some cases it can even help you work more efficiently!
Tip #4: Maintain healthy boundaries at work and home
What’s one of the most common pitfalls many remote workers fall into?
Blurring the line between work and home a little bit too much.
In most jobs, a certain degree of overtime is unavoidable, especially around crunch time.
But it’s all too common to see remote workers and virtual staff let their work seep into their home lives as well! Many virtual staff and remote workers end up hammering out reports before bedtime or checking emails over dinner.
In some cases, this can be a sign of inefficiency – instead of getting things done in a reasonable time, you’ve gotten distracted and been forced to stay after your in-office colleagues have all clocked off.
In others, many virtual staff take our advice about setting their own schedule with a bit too much enthusiasm, spreading their work so thin over the day that they’re working well into the evening.
Needless to say, this can be detrimental to your mental health.
Poor work-life balance is linked to excessive levels of stress and feelings of burnout. Telecommuting is touted as a solution to these problems – if it ends up making your stress even worse, you’re doing something wrong!
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean that you should be living in your office just to please your boss. It should also be clear from the beginning when you are available and what hours you can respond to emails and enquiries.
Tip #5: It’s all about communication
Working in isolation can make it hard to feel like part of a team, and is often listed as one of the most prominent downsides of working remotely.
On top of that, remote workers and virtual staff don’t have the luxury of just calling over to the next desk. Thanks to the tyranny of distance, reaching out to the rest of your team and coordinating your work from home can be challenging.
It helps to use instant messaging tools to keep in touch. Not only is it much faster than email, but they’re also a breeze to use.
Finally, consider using collaboration tools to enable real-time collaboration. Programs such as Slack combine instant messaging with project management and file-sharing. This makes them perfect for coordinating with your colleagues – moreover, they’re cheap, making them easy sells to your bosses!
Get your start in remote working – call VirtualStaff365!
Sick of the commute? Tired of putting up with office politics? Thinking of working from home?
If you’re based in the Philippines or South Africa, get in touch with VirtualStaff365!
Unlike other outsourcing agencies, the vast majority of our virtual assistant roles are home-based.
We’re big believers in “fit” – we help you find the right job. You know the one: the elusive job that fits exactly with what you would like from your career and fits perfectly with your life.
So what are you waiting for?