In March 2022, the way in which a lot of companies worked was handed a massive shake-up – much of the planet was catapulted into lockdown, and people who might be thrown into working remotely. While heading to a workplace setting has started to become possible again, it's looking as though remote work and/or a physical-virtual workplace hybrid is here to stay, actually, research from Gallup recommends workers spend 60-80% of their time remote (or 3-4 days telecommuting inside a 5-day work week – this can, of course, vary by industry).
While there are some fabulous perks to working at home (hello, no commute), there might be some downsides, too, like occasionally finding yourself in a motivational slump. We recently spoken with a few seasoned career coaches on the subject of remote and hybrid working, so keep reading for their useful tips when it comes to staying productive and motivated, as well as how to maintain a presence even from afar.
Tap into technology
Ah, technology – a lot of us have developed a love-hate relationship by using it, but tech can be quite the productivity booster when it comes to WFH, so may as well lean in making the relevant tools and apps available more friend than foe. “Motivation could be challenging master when work and home is one in the same, and tech tools can help telecommuters get (+ stay) in a work mindset,” says Ashlee Anderson, blogger and career coach. She adds that lots of remote personnel are already quite well versed in technology since they're routinely using different apps and programs to speak and collaborate with coworkers from around the world.
Aside in the usual apps, you may be firing up daily like Zoom and Slack, she notes that tech tools such as calendars, to-do lists, timers and workflow apps can serve as great motivation boosters. “A simple Pomodoro timer helps chip away at the office in short 25-minute sprints, while a productivity assistant, like RescueTime, provides much-needed focus and blocks unwanted distractions. Additionally, there are Trello, an adaptable productivity app, which could organize projects and create workflows in a manner that works for you.”
Focus around the little wins
Take time for you to concentrate on the little wins and micro-goals, says Bri Seeley, an entrepreneur coach, who adds that working remotely can easily turn into a '’Groundhog Day’' situation where monotony becomes most of your experience. Don't fret if you're feeling a bit like Bill Murray, though, because she's some advice that's super easy to implement: “In to beat the mental humdrum, it’s vital to consider purposeful moments to understand and celebrate things beyond our routine – celebrating little wins and honoring when we’ve reached micro-goals can be what's needed to disrupt the ruts a lot of us have fallen into over the last 18 months.”
Communicate, communicate, communicate
The saying “from sight, out of mind” is indeed a fear for many remote workers, particularly those who work from the distance while their coworkers are in work. Communication is essential in this situation. “You wish to have regular feedback from supervisors and open lines of communication with coworkers in your team – additionally, insisting with an annual review allows you the opportunity to share your projects wins all year round while receiving constructive criticism which you can use to enhance your speed and agility continuing to move forward,” Anderson explains. Long story short, if you are likely to be working remotely for the long haul, you need to be proactive and keep consistent communication so your hard work doesn't go unnoticed. “A quick email to touch base, a regular monthly Zoom session or perhaps a weekly call significantly help in positioning yourself exactly where you need to be.”
Seeley also suggests going out of your way to consider others. “Ask your manager how their visit to the vet ended up, follow up with your coworker whose child just went back to school, check in together with your administrative assistant to determine how their significant other’s surgery went, etc.,” she advises. “People remember when you can demonstrate a level of thoughtfulness outside of the normal work conversations.”
Switch up your environment
If you're frankly just sick and tired of exploring the same four walls every day, consider using a change in environment for a boost of motivation. “This can include something as simple as rearranging the furnishings in your house office or working out of the local cafe if it is safe to do so,” says Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES, and founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. Here's a fascinating tidbit – studies have shown that employed in spaces that have plenty of ambient noise, like the traditional cafe, can contribute to better cognitive flexibility, aka the ability to think diversely to resolve problems and learn new concepts.
Ditch the sweats
There's no doubt that many of us have adapted a “business on the top, PJs on bottom” remote work wardrobe, but studies have suggested it's worth ditching the sweats when it comes to maintaining productivity. For example, this research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology revealed that professionals perform better when wearing clothes that have “symbolic meaning” and located that doctors were focused and attentive during tasks when wearing a lab coat.
Procrastination. Most people have been there – particularly when it comes to a hefty work task or a project that you are feeling common unwilling to tackle. Cue the dangling carrot. “The concept of rewarding yourself for completing tasks can be quite motivating when used sparingly with purpose,” says Anderson. She continues: “You don’t want to reward yourself for everyday accomplishments, but rewards for hitting long-term goals, deliverables or milestones is an excellent method to tell yourself 'job congratulations.'”
It’s recommended that you set up the facts of the reward and also the associated accomplishment well ahead of time (and unfortunately it does not count whenever a task is nearly completed). “Instead, look at upcoming projects or deadlines and identify any you realize will knock you off your game – then pick a reward that’s meaningful for you and promise yourself you’ll get X when Y is performed.”
Engage inside a bit of self-care and reflection
Our last tip is to make sure to take care of yourself during those long work-from-home days. “These do not have to be time-consuming acts either,” notes Elliott. “They may include things like brewing coffee, meditating for a few minutes, or stepping outside for any quick walk”.
Anderson also recommends taking a minute to mirror once the workday has come to some close which may involve writing down something that went well and having a moment of gratitude for it. “It’s amazing how a little bit of gratitude can make a huge difference in how motivated you feel to also end the next day strong and so forth and so forth. Similarly, each morning, try to set an intention for the day – this simple act of stating what you would like to accomplish using your actions can help you keep a clear head while you change from task to task,” she says.
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