You pour a cup of hot French press coffee, open the window to hear the birds chirping, and dive into your emails. It’s a scene that seems similar to a traditional day at the office, yet the office itself — is anywhere you want it to be.
Though the conventional office setting used to be the primary option when it came to work environments, the remote workforce has steadily been on the rise. According to a recent study, nearly 70 percent of us work remotely at least once per week and over 50 percent do so for at least half the week.
If you’re currently a remote worker — or thinking about becoming one — there are a handful of ergonomic tips and tricks that can keep you feeling comfortable and happy with your workflow.
From physical tips like taking breaks for stretching to ideas for staying motivated, let’s take a deeper look into maximizing your productivity and feeling good while doing so.
Acceleration of the Remote Workforce
It’s natural to be hesitant about joining the wide world of the remote workforce if you’ve never done it. But if you’ve ever found yourself sitting sandwiched in between desks at the office and dreaming of doing your work elsewhere (perhaps a tropical Hawaiian island or the snow-capped peaks of Switzerland) it might be time to reconsider.
The traditional workforce offers foundational benefits such as stability, structured communication, central authority and decision-making, and consistency.
Even if they’re not going completely remote, some companies are “risking” these benefits and bidding farewell to 9-5 workdays. They’re opting for flexible hours and open-office layouts — maybe even the occasional casual Friday work attire.
The future of work is remote and company policies are reflecting it. In letting employees work from wherever they’d like, there’s a chance they’ll be more productive, happier, and engaged. The truth is, remote work is about more than sitting around in your pajamas until noon (though that can be an added bonus). It takes dedication, occasional freelance fails and finding out what exactly works best for your own unique personality and workflow.
When it comes to maintaining a good work-life balance, things are a bit different for remote workers than they are for traditional workers. In a traditional work setting, you might go in at 9 a.m, have lunch at noon, then leave by 5 p.m. to go for a run or join your co-workers for happy hour. Maintaining a work-life balance without the structure of an office isn’t impossible — but it does take some tinkering with and exploring options.
First, find a way to separate your workspace and your living space. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have an entire room dedicated solely for office use, either (though doing so will yield tax breaks and might help those that need structure).
It can be as simple as a table that’s a desk by day and easily converts to a dining table by night. Or you could dedicate a certain amount of time every day to your craft at the local cafe. Once you leave, try not to bring the work back with you.
Another thing: it’s easy when working remotely to fall into the mindset of I’ll do it later. This thinking quickly leads to late nights and lapsed due dates.
Staying motivated without a team to cheer you on or a boss who’s physically present can be a challenge. Of course, it’s incredibly invigorating, too, but you’ll have to set boundaries to ensure you can sustain the self-motivation. If not, you might find yourself searching for office jobs again in the near future.
Entrepreneur suggests some ways to stay motivated. Among them — wake up early, be consistent in your routine, dress for success (or as we like to add, for comfort, too), get organized, reduce distractions, and take breaks. If you can master this balance, you’ll be an efficient work-producing powerhouse in no time.
Create a Schedule
One of the most important psychological factors of being comfortable with remote working is to create a schedule. Doing so will not only help you stay organized and set boundaries with yourself, but it will also help you pinpoint the right time of day to do your work.
For some, this means setting the alarm at 5 a.m. and working for a few solid hours before the rest of the world wakes up. For others, the best time of day might be in the early afternoon after a yoga class or just before dinner when the creative juices are flowing. Whatever your peak hours are, using them to your advantage will help you complete your tasks more efficiently.
Once you’ve nailed down your schedule, use content calendars and spreadsheets to remember due dates. Editorial calendars help you plan, publish and share your content (for free).
Whether you’re lounging by the pool or sitting upright in an office chair at a coworking space, it’s important to take care of your body. Your physical condition is integral to staying sharp mentally. Sitting hunched over the computer screen is tough on your back and your eyes, so make sure to take breaks occasionally.
Aim for taking a short five-minute break every hour — or more frequently if you can. Get up and stretch. Do a few yoga poses. Take a walk around the block or water the plants outside. Not only will this help you feel physically better when working remotely, but it will also help maximize your productivity.
Other key physical tips are to stay hydrated and maintain a nutritious diet. If you find yourself forgetful with your water consumption, keep a bottle on your desk. Infuse it with fresh lemon or sliced cucumber to keep it more tempting and tasty. Stock your fridge with fresh fruits, veggies, hummus, and other healthy lunch options, so you don’t find yourself gravitating towards the chips or chocolate bars. Having ready-to-go snacks and meal options will also shorten your workday versus cooking your food or figuring out where to get takeout.
It’s also wise to invest in ergonomic products that are specifically designed to physically support your long hours at the computer — like monitor stands to eliminate stiff necks and chair cushions to reduce the stress on your muscles.
Remote Team Relationships
Even the most introverted people can feel lonely when working remotely. That’s why it’s crucial to build and maintain coworker relationships with video meetings, email check-ins, and weekly phone calls.
Get to know your team, their timezone, and their interests so that you can feel connected to them and their work. Building a rapport, even when you’re not interacting face-to-face, will lead to more creative brainstorming sessions and better work output.
Google Hangouts and Skype make it easy to hop on a video or voice call, even if your co-workers are located in different parts of the world. Those who opt for remote working tend to be goal-oriented and productive, so working together as a team to maintain relationships contributes to a healthier and stronger workforce.
Whether you’re a freelance writer, marketing director, or video editor, remote working offers the opportunity to experience both freedom and personal fulfillment.
It’s entirely up to you what goals you want to set and achieve. Thanks to the remote workforce, your world can be full of new perspectives, flexible locations, and an engaged, enthusiastic mindset.
Bay is a multimedia food and travel storyteller. She’s cofounder of the artistic production company @comewecreate and cookbook author of Living the Mediterranean Diet. She has a passion for learning about new cultures through nature and cuisine.