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How do you like the idea of writing your report over a cuppa at a café, or having the flexibility to join your kids for that school event before reporting for work – without having to apply for leave?  Well, that’s already a reality for many remote workers today.  And this is made possible with the combination of knowledge-based work (which doesn’t require you to be at the worksite physically unlike manual labour), and technological advancement.

In fact, the freedom and flexibility to travel and work from anywhere has become the new luxury that many talents seek.

Still, remote work isn’t without its challenges. Try doing your work at home with the toddler wailing in the background, or when your favourite TV sitcom is being screened… You’d probably find your productivity being lower than desired.

How can you make the most of your flexible work arrangements?

To be an effective remote worker (and to truly enjoy the experience), you need to adjust your thinking and work habits.  In the book Remote: Office Not Required (read our book summary here) Fried and Hansson gave a number of tips for remote workers. Let’s zoom in on 3 of the biggest ideas that will make a real difference to your remote working arrangements:

1. Develop your personal work recipe – and remember to add the key ingredients

The irony of remote work is that, precisely because it is so flexible, you need to build in some form of structure and routine to make it work. The good news is, you can now build your work schedule around your body clock and lifestyle.

Here are some key ingredients to consider in putting together your personal work routine: 
Remote work_Key ingredients• Build a routine.
Most people require some form of routine to be productive. You can use specific routines or cues (e.g. change of attire) to switch into “work mode”, divide the day into chunks (e.g. “serious work”, “catch-up” etc.), or use specific parts of your house for different activities. You can also use hybrid approaches that best suit your work/ team e.g. remote arrangements in the morning (for focused work) and going to office in the afternoon (for collaborative work).

• Draw the lines. Prioritize leisure and personal time. To avoid overworking, create a greater distinction between work and play e.g. have different computers, device or accounts for work and personal use. [Read more in this article about why and how to prioritize self-time and rest-time]

• Human Interaction. No man is an island.  Working remotely should not mean isolation and solitude. As a remote worker, you can set aside quality time with family and friends, and /or step out of your home occasionally to create opportunities for human interaction, e.g. making a trip to the cafe, supermarket, library…

• Staying healthy. Remote working may result in even lesser opportunity for movement and exercise, so you’ll need to deliberately build in reasons to move around in the day. Regular movement also helps to keep the blood and oxygen flowing for better productivity.

2. You can work from home….but, don’t just work from home

Let’s face it, we have different moods and we also react to our environments.  Try out different locations at different times of the day – you may soon find that certain times and locations are best for creative work (e.g. writing, designing, brainstorming), while other times/spaces are better for administrative/ mundane work (e.g. reports, filing, replying to emails etc.).

Remote work_location

When moving around/ planning your work locations, don’t forget to consider these 2 points:

• Ergonomics. Consider your equipment (chairs, tables, screens) to take care of your body anatomy, and vary your sitting/ standing positions so you are not cooped up for long periods in the same positions.

• Fixed vs new environments. Having pre-determined locations for work can be useful to condition your mind and body to switch automatically into specific work modes, e.g. working from the balcony or garden could bring you into “creative mode” while stepping into the study with your computer could signify “email/ admin time”.   Occasionally varying your scenery or work environment can also create opportunities for new ideas.  Finally, you can also consider alternating between working alone and working in the presence of other people (e.g. at a vibrant café with Wifi, or at a co-working station).


3. Staying motivated and enjoying your work

It’s wonderful to wake up in the morning with a bounce in your step, looking forward to the challenges that you are about to conquer in the day and the results that you are going to generate. But, we all have those days when we just can’t seem to get the engines cranking.

Remote work_motivation

Our level of motivation can be a function of our work or work environment.  If you just happened to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or are having a not-so-great day, it’s cool. However if you find yourself feeling consistently unmotivated, do speak up and diagnose the issue. After all, work is a key part of most of our lives – it provides not just income, but also learning/ growth opportunities, meaning, and even shapes our perception of who we are.

If you are wondering what could be behind your lack of motivation, check out this article as we share the 3 key ingredients for unlocking our inner drive.

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