Working from home can be a mixed bag. Sure, you have more flexibility and comfort, but you’re also dealing with distractions – or setting clear boundaries between work and home life.
When you’re not working at your best remotely – a simple change to your attitude, methodology or just your technical setup can make a huge difference.
Keen to learn more? Our expert tips will help you experience the benefits of working remotely or from home.
Jump straight to the tips:
- Establish a routine – and stick to it!
- Communicate with your team
- Arm yourself with the best tools
- Keep work and personal separate
- Experiment with your workflow
- Don’t overlook physical and mental health
- Practise good video meeting etiquette
Remote work is here to stay
Whether you work remotely or employ people who do, remote or hybrid work isn’t going away. Research from OwlLabs shows interest in remote work has risen by 24% from 2021 to 2022.
It’s simple: People want flexibility
So it’s unsurprising to see additional research from Statista showing that 67% of people want a flexible schedule, 62% prefer a flexible work location and 59% are intent on lowering their commute time.
What are the benefits of remote work?
Whether you’re fully remote, a solopreneur operating from home or part of a hybrid team, you’ll benefit from the following:
- Flexibility in terms of both where and how you work
- Low or no commute time – saving $15 (about £12) per day on average, according to research from OwlLabs
- Fewer distractions and better focus – with 62% feeling more productive thanks to this perk
- Financial benefits, for some
- Better career opportunities across the country
Remote workers can be shy about acknowledging some of the challenges that exist. As modes go, it’s quite fashionable – but here are reasons why many find remote work difficult to embrace.
- Communication breakdown
- In-person social cues and body language
- Feelings of loneliness and isolation
Thankfully, with cloud-based productivity tools like Dropbox, many of these challenges are easily overcome.
Seven top tips for remote working
Keep these points in mind for better success while working at home, from afar or anywhere else.
1. Establish a routine – and stick to it!
Get up, dress for work and have your day mapped out. Try to avoid over-planning for every minute of the day, but take the following tips on board to build good habits:
- Save yourself from decision fatigue by creating your morning ‘getting ready’ routine, and following it to a T
- Choose a main focus for the workday; one or two broad goals are better than many diffuse ones
- Keep your calendar organised, including lunch breaks, meetings and appointments – but also the regular work breaks you take during the day
But how do you stay on top of it all? Arm yourself with the tools to keep yourself on track. Proven productivity hacks, like to-do lists and calendars for your routine, are easy with Dropbox Paper.
“The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
– Stephen Covey
2. Communicate with your team
A good tip is to have a regular team meeting each morning to check in and say hello. Other tips for better remote communications include:
- Sending a video message or screen recording, which will give you an edge over text-based comms
- Scheduling weekly meetings to cover non-work matters – a great tip for managers
- Trying our Virtual First Toolkit, which will help you communicate more effectively
If your communications are solid, you can dovetail your favourite tools with Dropbox. Browse our app integrations for Slack, Google Workspace, Zoom and others.
Effective communication requires consistent attention and teamwork. Learn more on ‘Effective teamwork habits and how to build them’.
3. Arm yourself with the best physical and digital tools
Remote work might see you working on a plane, train or another place, so working on the go is just as important as at home. Try these tips to cultivate a better home or mobile work setup:
- Use only the tools you need and avoid clutter, which is important if you need space or are travelling
- Equip distraction-proof tech when on the go, which might include noise-cancelling headphones and other gadgets
- Don’t neglect digital tools, which can become cluttered themselves – always keep your suite of tools relevant, compatible and up to date
Your physical tools will vary depending on the type of work you’re doing. For digital tools, look at some of the powerful features of Dropbox, which can greatly enhance productivity.
4. Keep your work and personal lives separate
First, agree on ground rules with people in your work environment – such as a partner or roommate. From here, you can also try the following to create a better work-life balance:
- Have a hard out (and in) for your workday. While it might be tempting to be reactive to work requests when you are at home, a firm stop time will establish a definitive end
- Never be ‘always on’, which is why it is important for leaders to set the expectations of their team, reducing tension or stress outside of work hours
- Avoid mobile alerts, whether that’s an email or instant message – these alerts can seriously blur the lines between work and personal life, especially when working from home!
A compartmentalised mindset will help, so use a common sense approach. Dropbox cloud storage can help with keeping work and personal files separate while working remotely.
5. Tinker or experiment to boost productivity
Experimenting with productivity hacks is essential when you first start remote work. Consider the following to boost productivity if working from home:
- Tackle difficult tasks and easy tasks at the right time – there’s no point starting something challenging without the proper head space, so always keep mundane tasks for slow periods
- Tinker with comms, which can refresh your way of doing things and maybe show you a better way – try sending a video message instead of your next email and see where it leads
- Use asynchronous communication, such as a simple email or instant message, to fill unproductive periods and avoid distracting modes of contact
Your remote work setup will never be perfect, so there’s no harm in trying something and reverting back if it doesn’t go well. Be bold and be curious to try new things.
Dropbox Capture is the perfect tool for asynchronous communication, like video or screen capture, helping you to save time and develop more productive working patterns.
6. Keep physical and mental health as your main priority
There are simple things you can do in any setting to keep health at the core of your working day. Try the following tips for a better-functioning brain and body:
- Stretch limbs and muscles, which will get oxygen-rich blood flowing and avoid aches, cramps or pains that come from sitting at a desk
- Stay hydrated. Make sure you drink water to keep your mind and body alert — try to avoid too many fizzy drinks or caffeinated beverages that might dehydrate you
- Don’t work in pyjamas, loungewear or anything else really casual. If you wear the same clothes you relax or sleep in, this mood might bleed into your approach to work
Like most things that relate to working remotely, it’s all about striking the right balance. Remember that you will have good and bad days, but healthy habits breed better results.
“Mental health … is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.” – Noam Shpancer, PhD
7. Practise good video meeting etiquette
Most people have had the experience of leaving a microphone or camera on accidentally – it’s not fun. Try to do the following for a more successful video meeting:
- Be aware of visual and audio cues. When you’re meeting remotely, you can scan for facial or voice cues that might signal a question or disagreement and then respond
- Always have your camera on during video calls, which will show that you are listening and paying attention – this is Video Conferencing 101
- Don’t work on other things during calls, such as typing in a document, checking other windows or anything else – it’s not polite and a big issue for meeting etiquette
Video meeting etiquette is developing and changes over time. As with most physical or digital interactions, the key is to feel present. Learn more about good video conferencing etiquette.
Help your remote work thrive with Dropbox
Whether you work remotely or not, you can set yourself up for success with Dropbox.