40 Remote Working Tips

Whether it’s permanent remote working or a hybrid model combining the home and office, remote working has fast become the new norm. By now, we’re all well aware what kick-started the trend. But following the reaction to the pandemic, organisations have adopted remote working on a permanent basis because of its benefits for work-life balance, cost-savings and even productivity – to name just a few.

All that said, the transition hasn’t been easy for some staff and organisations. With remote working here to stay, we’ve compiled a list of remote working tips that can keep you happy, healthy and productive while working from home.

Read on for 40 remote working tips for technology, self-care, productivity and management. To jump straight to the right section for you, use these handy links:

Remote working tips for self-care

Don’t be so tough on yourself
Ask for help
Foster relationships
Get connected
Be kind
Take video call breaks
Stretch it out!
Get out and about
A case for coffee
Maintain a routine

1.    Don’t be so tough on yourself

We’ll start with the basics – remote working isn’t easy for everyone. For some, working from home is a welcome relief. You might feel energised or productive.

However, that’s not always the case. Switching from bustling office to spare room can be a jarring change. You could feel isolated, frustrated or unmotivated.

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. Change can be tough. It’s OK and normal. Cut yourself some slack.

2.    Ask for help

Whether you’re working in the office or at home, you’re always going to need support. Everybody does. Unfortunately, it can be harder to ask for help when you’re not seeing people face to face – leading many to suffer alone. If you need to talk through anything, speak out.

Working remotely doesn’t mean you’re on your own, with no one to count on except yourself. You are part of a team. And your manager and colleagues will be there to give you their support. You’re not an island, even if it feels that way.

3.    Foster relationships

With so much change in a relatively short space of time, working from home can be a strain on your mental health. But you’re not alone. That’s why it’s important to foster relationships.

Working life shouldn’t be just work. In the office, you’d share your day with colleagues, catch-up over a brew and celebrate birthdays. Why stop now? Use video calls to maintain face-to-face contact and keep up those relationships.

It’s OK and normal to feel isolated, frustrated or unmotivated. Cut yourself some slack and ask colleagues for support when you need it.

4.    Get connected

That leads us onto tip number four – get connected. Human interaction is crucial for mental and emotional well-being. In fact, according to numerous studies, strong social connections can actually help you live longer! If you are feeling isolated, video technology is the perfect way to connect with your team.

While video can be slightly uncomfortable at first, it’s definitely worth pushing through any reservations. To help overcome any nerves you might have, try checking your video and sound set-up ahead of schedule, jot down a few questions beforehand and don’t forget to breathe.

5.    Be kind

Working remotely is difficult, especially when it comes to communication. It can be harder to deliver your message and conversations can easily be misunderstood. In such challenging circumstances, it’s vital that everyone stays kind.

Body language, tone of voice and visual cues can all fail to make the intended impact when communicating via email, messaging apps or video calls. A great communication platform such as Microsoft Teams can help, but it’s still important to be mindful of this when trying to communicate with your colleagues – especially if it’s a potentially testing topic.

With the risk for misunderstanding becoming more common, greater sensitivity and kindness are a must. Be kind everybody!

6.    Take video call breaks

Video calls are great – but you can definitely have too much of a good thing, which is why we recommend taking breaks.

Without the move between meeting rooms, remote workers can easily suffer from video call fatigue. While it’s tempting to stay at your desk and check emails or social media, it’s important to give yourself a short break in between meetings.

Stretch your legs, grab a coffee and stay focused, so you can get the most out of every meeting!

7.    Stretch it out!

Sitting at your desk all day can get uncomfortable and can even cause you physical pain. But the solution is easier than you think – stretch it out.

Staying in one position and doing the same repetitive motions over and over isn’t good for you. It’s typical of a desk job, but a quick stretch can do you the world of good.

This isn’t about exercise. Simply extending your body helps avoid any stiffness and will improve your body’s well-being. You don’t even have to stand if you’re pressed for time.

Give it a go today! Remember to breathe and don’t go any further than is comfortable.

Take a break, stretch your legs, grab some fresh air, enjoy a well deserved coffee. And remember to breathe!

8.    Get out and about

It can be tempting to hunker down and stay indoors, especially when the cold weather creeps in. But for remote workers, nothing could be worse. If you’re glued to your desk all day, it’s vital to get out and about.

Try to leave your house once a day at the very least. A jaunt outside can improve your memory, help fight depression and even lower blood pressure — and the benefits don’t end there.

Go for a walk, take Rex for a stroll, mow the lawn, watch birds visit your garden – it’s all good for you. The natural light and fresh air will do you wonders.

9.    A case for coffee

In a social media poll, we asked what drink is on your desk. The results found that most people’s go-to liquid fuel for a typical working day is… coffee. What a shocker!

The good news is that the right amount of coffee is actually good for you. So, if you’re worried about your morning, midday and evening brew, don’t. The case for coffee is stronger than ever.

In fact, you could even live longer. Studies have found that coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease. You are less likely to develop Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease too.

Coffee, however, can be bad for you, if you’re going a tad too fancy. Lots of sugar, syrups, half-and-half, whole milk and whipped cream might sound tasty, but it can counter coffee’s health properties. So, be sure to stick to moderate additions.

10.    Maintain a routine

Flexibility is one of the best things about working remotely. Many employers allow more flexible working hours, leaving you to decide when you start, finish and even take breaks. But it’s important to maintain a routine within that flexibility.

Starting late just because you can, might lead to late finishes every day of the week. The result could be spending all your spare time in bed, and having no time to socialise after work, for example.

Find out what working pattern works best for you and get into a routine that gives you the maximum benefit of flexible working, whether that’s long lunches to walk the dog or early finishes to pick up the kids. Oh – and always get dressed.

Technology tips for remote working

Video conference call
Boost your Wi-Fi connection
And your internet connectivity
Ensure your home office network is secure
Upgrade your webcam and headset
Improve your video conferencing experience
Get the right monitor
Resolve issues with video
Find out your colleagues’ go-to choice for communication
Try a different solution for meetings
Test your tech

11.    Boost your Wi-Fi connection

Not everyone was ready for the switch to remote working. That extends to the facilities on hand at your home office. With most devices now connecting wirelessly, Wi-Fi performance is crucial.

If you’re going to be making a lot of video calls, you really do need a great Wi-Fi reception. Try to find the location with the best reception in your home. Better still, opt for a wired connection if you can. If your router is past its best, consider investing in a new one.

12.    And your internet connectivity

If bandwidth-intensive tasks such as teleconferencing and large file sharing are part of your day-to-day activities, your internet connection is going to be vital. Slow upload and download speeds will hamper productivity levels and your ability to communicate with colleagues and customers.

Fortunately, this is typically an easy one to fix. Contact your broadband supplier to ask for more bandwidth. Many major operators have even introduced unlimited data plans to help people adjust to this new way of working.

13.    Ensure your home office network is secure

Your internet router is incredibly important when it comes to security. It’s the gateway to your internet access and must be safeguarded against cyber-criminals.

Try changing your Wi-Fi’s default name, picking a strong and unique password and activating network encryption. Also make sure all devices on your home network have the latest software updates.

Remember that communication and collaboration are beneficial for your mental health too. Make each interaction a positive one.

14.    Upgrade your webcam and headset

For many, working from home means more video conferencing. And rightly so. It’s important for teams to chat face-to-face, even if it’s virtually. After all, communication and collaboration are key for an effective workforce. And they’re beneficial for your mental health too.

So far, you might have got by with your built-in webcam and a standard pair of headphones. That’ll get you so far, but the audio and video quality could be hampering your meetings. Plus, the quality might be even worse for the people you’re chatting with.

If you want to improve the experience for everybody, why not invest in an external webcam and a decent headset? The difference could give you a big boost.

15.    Get the right monitor

With your screen providing a window to communicate with colleagues and clients, it’s more important than ever to get the right monitor – or monitors!

Yes, you heard us. Why struggle away with one monitor when you can have more? If you’re using video conferencing a lot right now, it’s helpful to have another screen to take notes, review documents – all that extra stuff. You’ll thank yourself!

16.    Improve your video conferencing experience

With remote working here to stay, video conferencing is more important than ever. Many organisations have tried it for first time in recent months, with varying levels of success. If you’re worried about the quality of your video calls, a few tweaks can make all the difference:

  • As discussed above, get a great camera and headset
  • Check out features of the technology you’re using
  • Reduce bandwidth-intensive activities while taking calls
  • Make sure you’re not sat in the dark
  • Swap the PJs for suitable attire

17.    Resolve issues with video

Working remotely can make communication difficult. What would be a quick chat in the office can turn into multiple texts and emails – and misunderstandings can happen. Thankfully, video can help.

Emails, messaging, texts are all great ways to communicate with your colleagues. But they can’t always accurately convey things like tone, emotion, facial expressions and gestures.

If this happens, just jump on a video call and resolve any issues ASAP. With visuals to aid you, your ability to communicate more effectively will improve instantly. Something as small as a smile can help undo complications and help you get back on track.

Dress to impress. Swap your PJs for that power suit that makes you feel confident and empowered. And brush your hair!

18.    Find out your colleagues’ go-to choice for communication

We all prefer different ways to communicate, but what if you like one style and a colleague opts for another? Instant messaging, emails, telephone call… Everyone is different, so find out what your colleagues prefer.

Some people like a meeting invite via their email calendar. Others prefer quick-fire calls in the morning each day. Maybe the personable element of video calls suits you?

Getting to know what option everyone prefers will hold you in good stead. Finding a mutual way that both people feel comfortable with will help maximise the results of your communication endeavours. Keep talking everybody!

19.    Try a different solution for meetings

If you’re still using a makeshift solution for video calls, now is the right time to reconsider your options. Specialist business communication platforms offer so much more, with a wide range of additional features to help your team achieve more together.

Here are just a few of the highlights of video conferencing in Microsoft Teams:

  • Collaborate – Work together in real time using screen sharing, meeting chats and digital whiteboarding.
  • Recordings – Record your meeting and share with participants later.
  • Chat – Chat with participants before, during and after the meeting.
  • Live captions – Turn on captions during a meeting and follow along in real time.
  • Customized backgrounds – Choose a background or upload your own.
  • Participant list – View and download the participant list so you can follow up after the meeting.
  • Integration – Integrate your favourite apps with the platform.
  • Breakout – Use breakout rooms to divide meetings into sub-groups to facilitate discussions and brainstorming sessions.

20.    Test your tech

It can happen to the best of us. If you’ve ever found yourself on a video call, adjusting your camera or settings while else everybody waits (impatiently), you’re not alone.

We all face tech difficulties now and again. Who doesn’t? And they typically strike when you need them to work most, right? You’ve gathered the team around for a video call, only to find your sound doesn’t work. Panic stations!

Worst of all, if this happens regularly, you’re wasting everybody’s time and you’ll soon see how patient your co-workers really are. To help prevent these issues (mostly), make sure you test your tech first. Does your sound, video, microphone and screen sharing work? If yes, you’re good to go. You can even get a colleague on board 15 minutes early to double test everything.

Remote working productivity hacks

Washing machine
Get started early
Work your way
Unsocialise
Communicate expectations
Talk in the afternoon
Work in sprints
Use your washing as a work time
Reliable tech is key
Create a “to-don’t” list
Skill up

21.    Get started early

Motivation can be challenging if you’re remote working. If the journey from your pillow to laptop takes an eternity, why not get started early? The morning commute used to give you time to prepare for the office. Whether it’s your coffee to go, music or brisk stroll to the office, these all helped the transition.

At home, this isn’t the case. Many struggle with a sluggish transition, feeling sapped of energy and ready to crawl back into bed. If this sounds familiar, try diving into work first thing. Grab your to-do list and get an early start. Making headway will give you a boost. As will the idea of finishing earlier than normal.

22.    Work your way

The wonderful thing about remote working is that you can do it your way. In a traditional office, you can’t take your pooch with you. You can’t dine on stinky cheese, work in your slippers or relocate your office to the garden.

Working remotely is different. You can tailor your environment to work for you. Music. Clothes. Workspace. Companions. Schedule. You call the shots. Do whatever works best for you and get the best results. ⠀

23.    Unsocialise

Social media is designed to be incredibly convenient. You can open an account and start browsing in seconds. This all sounds great, unless you’re working remotely. If you’re liking when you should be labouring, it’s time to unsocialise.

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or TikTok, social media can seriously hamper your productivity levels. Taking social breaks during the day isn’t a major issue, unless you’re taking them too regularly.

The simple solution is to make social media less convenient. Log out of your accounts on all devices and remove the apps from smartphones. Using an “Incognito” browser window can help you too, as the platform won’t remember your log-in details.

Be upfront and tell your boss that your kids are home and driving you mad. We’re all human and understand the challenges of home working.

24.    Communicate expectations

Working from home can be tough if you’re not the only one. Parents, partners, children, siblings, roommates – there are so many people who can distract you. If this is the case, communication is key.

Tackling your to-do list can be tough if there are constant interruptions. The best way to ensure your space is respected during work hours is by communicating clear expectations. What are the rules? And does everybody know?

25.    Talk in the afternoon

If you’re not a morning person, don’t worry. You don’t have to be a people person all the time. Some of us need a little time to prepare before working with others. And the answer is simple…

Why tackle your phone calls, meetings and collaborative work first thing if you can save them for the afternoon? Kick-start the morning with your solitary tasks – and schedule time in the afternoon for social-related tasks.

Wait until you’ve properly woken up before you talk it up.

26.    Work in sprints

Staying focused can be difficult for remote workers. It isn’t necessarily because you’re easily distracted. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Believe it or not, you might not be taking enough breaks!

Whether it’s grabbing lunch, a coffee or chatting to a colleague, the normal rhythm of office life provides regular breaks. While working from home, this isn’t the case.

Yes, you can graft away, undistracted, for hours. But this will naturally lead to a tired mind. A mind that drifts and struggles to remain productive over the long-term.

You need small breaks through-out the day to refresh and recover. One solution is to work in sprints of no more than an hour at a time, with a break afterwards for a few minutes to recharge your batteries. Before your day starts, try planning your sprints and breaks in advance.

27.    Use your washing as a work time

Taking breaks is one technique. But sometimes, it’s easier to stay on task when you’re clear about what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by. But, watching the minutes tick by on your clock isn’t for everybody. Tick-tock-tick isn’t a good motivator for everyone.

For a different way to keep time, try putting on a clothes wash instead. Whether it’s a one-, two- or three-hour wash, you now have a timer in play for your next task. Try setting another task for the dry cycle. Now you’re working smarter – and doing a few chores along the way too.

If this happens, just jump on a video call and resolve any issues ASAP. With visuals to aid you, your ability to communicate more effectively will improve instantly. Something as small as a smile can help undo complications and help you get back on track.

Washings on! Commit to working on a specific task until the cycle is finished. Then break time and on to the next thing….

28.    Reliable tech is key

If you work remotely, the technology and software you use must be dependable. When your colleagues can’t count on you to get the job done, it’s time to make changes.

Is your Wi-Fi slow? Does your computer freeze up? Is your video camera poor? Is your collaboration software confusing and complicated? Does every simple task end up with a headache and a chat with IT support?

If yes, it’s time to invest in reliable tools. Otherwise, your efficiency levels will suffer – and so will your stance within your organisation. Wi-Fi upgrade. Noise-cancelling headphones. A second screen. Get what you need to ensure you can complete your work in a timely and fuss-free manner.

29.    Create a “to-don’t” list

To-do lists are super helpful. However, some items shouldn’t be on your list. In fact, they should be relegated to a sub-list of their own – a to-don’t list.

Working remotely can be difficult. There are limitless online distractions, such as YouTube, Facebook and retail therapy. Plus, the standard household chores are never far away. There’s always something that needs to be cleaned!

If you’re struggling with distractions, follow this checklist:

  • Take note of all the unnecessary tasks you’d like to complete
  • Jot them down onto your new to-don’t list
  • And save them for later

Easy!

30.    Skill up

If you’re looking for ways to make the most of lockdown, now is a great time to learn new skills. Yes, some of us are juggling jobs and kids – a near impossible task. But for some, there is a little extra time in the day and few ways to spend it. ⠀

From online workshops and conferences to live lessons via video, online courses and webinars, there are lots of different ways to learn. Find something that works for you. Something that challenges you or enhances your career. Better yet, find something that’s fun.

Remote working tips for managers

man and dog
Maintain a strong company culture
Don’t cancel one on ones
Find your team’s time-zone overlap
Share knowledge
Talk in the afternoon
Limit how many people are on calls
Utilise the mute button
Make an agenda and stick to it
Keep slides simple
Use names

31.    Maintain a strong company culture

More people than ever are working remotely. Naturally, teams will drift apart unless something is done. If you’re looking for ways to keep your team united, maintaining a strong company culture is top of the list.

While everybody is based in separate locations and interacting differently, this must not change your company culture. All of the little things – the routines and daily traditions – bind a team together.

How you celebrate birthdays, take coffee breaks and have non-work talks. These are all important. And it’s vital that you find a way to keep this culture alive. If you enjoyed fast food Fridays, how can you keep it going?

At Aura, for example, we’ve introduced Coffee Catch Ups on Tuesdays at 10am and Thirsty Thursday sessions at 4pm. This allows our team to chat, vent and unwind. You can even introduce members of your family. This kind of relaxed interaction on an informal footing can be key to effective team management, so bringing in a similar initiative at your company might be a beneficial strategy.

What little things are you keeping up?

32.    Don’t cancel one on ones

People miss out on a lot when they work from home. In an office environment, news spreads quickly and there are occasions when you can simply trust the crowd to spread the word for you.

The same can’t be said for remote employees. One on one video calls are a great way to build rapport with remote employees – and the perfect way to keep them in the loop. And with so much to cover, it’s important to catch-up regularly.

However, regularly cancelling them is one of the fastest ways to build resentment in your team. Remote team members can feel marginalised when a meeting is constantly cancelled, so keep to your word and don’t cancel any one on ones. If you can’t make it, reschedule.

33.    Find your team’s time-zone overlap

Alongside one on one meetings, it’s important for your whole organisation to get together and talk. But this can be tricky for a global team, especially if many work remotely. If your workforce is spread across different time zones, find your team’s time-zone overlap.

If you have team members spread across the world, when’s the best time to talk? You have to remember who is -7 UTC and who is +12 UTC. And then you’ll need to factor in daylight savings too. Sounds exhausting, right?

If you face this problem, check out everytimezone.com. This free tool (with paid upgrades) lets you see every time zone together – and see where the perfect overlap moments are. Let’s just hope you’re not the one that has to wake up in the middle of the night!

Stay connected with your team, even if it’s only to check in on how they’re doing. It will give them a sense of belonging and it won’t go unnoticed.

34.    Share knowledge

If a remote team is going to innovate, sharing knowledge is critical. Multiple viewpoints must be brought together in order to create new ideas and increase the productivity of a team. Together, people can work faster and smarter.

And the easier it is to share, the better. When a team is working in close proximity, knowledge is shared so freely. In some cases, effortlessly. Unfortunately, that’s not true for remote teams, who can easily be left in the dark.

Equipping your team with the right tools to share and receive knowledge is fundamental. Only then can internal resources and expertise provide the maximum impact.

At Aura, we recommend Microsoft Teams as your go-to file sharing platform. And the file sharing experience has made that so much easier. Team members can now share and work together on content from a single source of truth seamlessly with Microsoft Teams.

35.    Respect other people’s time

Yes, video calls are amazing! They’re a faster and more efficient way to communicate, compared to traditional emails and telephone calls. However, we all have other things to do too, which is why you need to respect other people’s time.

Have you ever found yourself sat in a video call that isn’t relevant to you, thinking about all the work you should and could be doing? Skimming over emails while half listening? We’ve all been there, right?

That’s why, when organising a video call with colleagues, it’s important to ask yourself a simple question: “Who needs to be in attendance?”

You don’t have to invite your whole team to every meeting. Keep your meetings short and to the point. Under 30 minutes is perfect. And if somebody wants to discuss something in more detail, let them stay on the call after everything else has been covered.

Video calls are super-efficient, but only if everyone in attendance has something they want to contribute or if they actually need the information that’s provided.

36.    Limit how many people are on the call

Linking in with the remote working tip above, it’s worth considering a maximum limit for the number of participants on your group video calls.

In 2020, Microsoft Teams increased the limit for video call participants to a whopping 49. But with 20, 30 or even more people on a call, it can be much harder to stay on topic and actually get information across effectively.

Where possible, limit meetings to smaller groups. With a maximum of 10 attendees, for example, you can ensure your video call is brief and effective, as well as reducing the chance of people being invited unnecessarily.

37.    Utilise the mute button

Whether you’ve been on the receiving end or just been helping out someone who’s struggling to adapt to video calling, we’ve all experienced the cries of “you’re on mute” when someone speaks but nothing comes out.

While the mute function can be frustrating, embarrassing or amusing if used incorrectly, it can also be useful on calls where there are lots of participants but only one speaker is required for certain periods.

If you or one of your team is presenting information to other colleagues, asking non-speakers to mute their microphones can provide a more focussed environment for the presentation. It allows the presenter to deliver their information unhindered, before allowing intervals for questions or discussion.

Back-to-back meetings can be counter productive. Consider who really needs to be on a call and stick to that.

38.    Make an agenda and stick to it

Much like a face-to-face meeting, video calls can soon get out of hand in terms of time. The pre-meeting catch-up alone can often take upwards of 10 minutes. That’s before each point of discussion goes off on tangents, sub-discussions and downright irrelevant matters!

To keep your meeting on time and focused, create an agenda ahead of time and stick to it. This will help you discuss everything you want to in the allocated time. It will also allow people to come to the meeting prepared for the discussion. If you are unsure how, Microsoft has a number of free agenda templates you can use.

39.    Keep slides simple

Video calls can easily get confusing, especially if there is too much information delivered simultaneously. Information overload can leave people frustrated and will naturally lead to mistakes. If you’re the one presenting that information, it’s best to keep slides simple.

Slides are incredibly helpful in video calls. However, less is more. Don’t let your slides say everything for you. If possible, try to keep one single topic per slide. This will help keep everybody focused on the question in hand. And you can control when it’s time to move on.

40.    Use names

If you frequently encounter the “No, you go ahead. No, you!” situation on video calls, using names could be a simple solution.

We’ve all been there on video calls. Prolonged silences, with nobody knowing who is supposed to speak next. And then everybody speaking at the same time!

To keep things moving along nicely, try asking specific questions to specific people – and use their name as you do so. This is especially important for hosts when large groups are involved.

What do you think of the final tip, Dave? Useful?

Make remote working work for you

There are plenty of ways to make remote working easier and more enjoyable for yourself and your team. As you can see from many of the tips above, technology plays a pivotal role. At Aura, we specialise in equipping businesses with the technology they need to successfully work from anywhere, globally.

From making the most of your Teams investment to empowering employees with the right communications equipment, we provide a one-stop shop for productive, disruption-free remote working. To find out more, arrange a consultation with a member of our expert team.

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