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Posted April 2, 2020

7 Remote Working Tips You Can’t Live Without [#4 Is Key]

how to work remotely

What a weird, weird world we’re living in, hey? 

Seemingly overnight the COVID-19 virus has swept the world, stealing us all from our standing desks and coffee breaks, forcing us into makeshift home offices and remote work with our partners and children.

But fret not, our diligent Invent@NMU and Innovate Marquette SmartZone staff are here for you, along with our good friend and remote work guru Erica Maki.

Erica is the Engagement Programs and Marketing Manager for GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, & LogMeIn. 

She was kind enough to offer a free webinar Wednesday March 25th about her experience with remote work over the last decade and how it was able to bring her back home to the U.P.

In addition, I, our new marketing manager, have worked remotely for the past few years in locations all over the world.

In case you missed the webinar here’s a summary of all the best tips and tricks of the remote work trade.

This article will not only show how to stay productive and motivated while working remotely but also showcase tips to staying connected, collaborated and working with your team.

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People often ask:

What is the best way to work remotely?

What jobs can you work remotely?

Is working remotely a good idea?

How do you manage someone remotely?

How can I be productive when working from home?

What are the best remote working apps?

And boy, do we have answers.

1. Have a dedicated workspace

Remember, even though you still have the option of working in your jammies, that doesn’t mean you should. 

Get up in the morning, establish a routine, take a shower, get ready, and do what you need to do to feel good about yourself. 

We recommend setting up a comfortable desk space like the one you had in your office.

A few items that could make this feel more like a “home office” are:

  • two monitors
  • reliable Wi-Fi
  • a good web camera and headset
  • extra laptop
  • comfortable chair or exercise ball

2. Find your best remote working style.

Remember, everyone’s different. 

Your preferred remote working style may not match mine, and that’s ok.

Do you like working in 4-hour increments? 

Maybe you prefer to skip a shower until 2 pm when you need an extra pep in your step. 

Perhaps it’s impossible to get work done until after your toddler has had breakfast.

Don’t stress if it takes a little time to find your groove. We’re all in this together.

3. Limit distractions and set the expectations wherever you’re working from.

You’re still a professional, even without your standing desk (can you tell I really miss mine?). 

Limiting the distractions around you during working hours is crucial to accomplishing anything throughout the day.

That could mean you put up a sign so your partner and kids know you’re working, putting personal social media locks on your phone or computer, or blocking incoming calls that aren’t work-related.

Whatever that distraction is, limit it and set it aside for your “nonworking” hours.

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4. Please, take breaks.

Mark my words, this is key. 

During a normal workday we have regular banter and chitter-chatter with our co-workers. 

We take a snack break, coffee break, walk around the office, etc., etc. 

As a remote worker, sometimes we lose ourselves in the depths of our screen and forget that our brains need a break to be fully productive.

Here are our top three suggestions to setting aside time for breaks:

  • Find whatever time intervals work for you.
  • Put 10-minute breaks periodically on your calendar.
  • Do something outside, seriously.

5. Over-communication with your team is needed.

We miss our co-workers and know you do too, but it doesn’t have to be this way! Meeting deadlines and being productive while working remotely means to over-communicate on everything and continuously engage with your team.

Communication tools like Slack, Skype, and Zoom help us stay connected at all hours of the day without even picking up our phones.

Here are Erica’s top tips on looking professional in front of a webcam:

  • Check preferences ahead of time
  • Add lighting and sit so light is on your face (preferably natural light, like a window)
  • Raise the camera to eye level
  •  Lower monitor brightness
  • Don’t sit in front of a window, bright light or have a messy background

Keep reading for all the remote work apps we can’t live without.

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6. Take time for self-care and know when to quit.

Just like it’s important to take regular breaks, it’s important to know when to quit for the day.

Remote workers often work 10-hour days or more because the lines between personal and professional time can get a bit blurred. 

Your time is your time, meaning when you close your laptop or shut down your Slack it’s just like leaving the office. 

Even if you’re only moving 4 feet to the couch.

7. Take advantage of being remote!

Working remotely doesn’t have to be humdrum and lonely, so take advantage of it! 

If the sun is out take a break and go for an afternoon walk. 

Say goodbye to rush hour in the grocery store by doing your shopping at 11 am.

Log into a Facebook live yoga class or call your mom at 3 pm.

Schedule a digital break with your coworkers over coffee!

Remote work has many advantages, let’s all use them.

Apps we can’t live without.

This is the secret sauce of any remote work situation:

**most are free or at least have a free trial.

  1. Password Manager Last Pass
  2. Communication tools like GoToMeeting/Webinar for meetings
  3. Apps like Slack and Skype for instant messaging and quick file sharing
  4. Loom – for training 
  5. Project management systems – Asana, Trello
  6. E-Drives like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box

ProTip: Checklists are essential. Macbooks and PCs have notes features with built-in checklists which can be streamed to all your devices. I, personally, like to use these features during online webinars and Zoom calls for note-taking and organization.

Places to look for remote work

Maybe this new world order has you thinking you may want to fully transition into working remotely, but you’re not sure where to look.

Here are a few job search resources to get you started.

  1. LinkedIn – Remote work location
  2. For veterans or military spouses – Hire Heros USA
  3. Flexjobs.com
  4. Powertofly.com
  5. InVision
  6. Piktochart
  7. RemoteYear.com

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