Once the territory of programmers and freelancers, remote work has become the norm in a huge range of industries.
The benefits are obvious. Companies can seriously reduce their office costs and hire the best talent from all around the world. On the flipside, workers get flexibility, cut out the commute, and don’t have to choose where to live based on their job.
1. Agree on remote work ground rules
Working from home plans often fail because expectations between a manager and their workers have not been fully established in the first place. Here, we’ll look at some key areas to agree on before launching a remote office.
Flexibility in your hours
Are you sticking to a nine-to-five, or can you afford to be flexible with your schedule?
If workers choose their own hours, do they need to record them in time tracking software?
Furthermore, will your manager make exceptions for parents who have their children at home?
Flexibility in your location
There are usually very good reasons you aren’t allowed on a public Wi-Fi or outside the company VPN. Some companies even include having your back to a wall in their NDAs to avoid any prying eyes.
However, a change in location can be just what some people need to boost their productivity. Whether it’s a cafe or a co-working space, it’s wise to know the rules before you get up and go.
With a working from home plan that covers every likely eventuality, you’ll gain a mutual manager-worker understanding that will make life easier for both of you.
2. Set expectations with anyone at home with you
It’s easy to forget that when you’re working from home, your home is literally your office.
Remember this golden rule and you’ll remain productive at work, while being able to dedicate time to your loved ones outside your working hours. Therefore, as part of your working from home plan, you need to establish expectations for yourself and those around you at home.
Firstly, others need to respect your space. It’s often hard for people you share a house with to accept that remote work is just as important as office work. You wouldn’t have your partner or kids hanging around and asking you questions in a standard office space!
So while it can be confusing to begin with, your remote work planning simply must include boundaries during your working hours so you can dedicate yourself to your tasks. Circumstances are slightly different if you’re multiple people working from home.
Clashing meetings will happen frequently, so to avoid falling out, write up a working from home plan with agreements on how to deal with meeting clashes.
3. Get the right equipment
A real entry-level contribution in our list of tips to work from home is to have the right tools at your disposal. When you’re trying to be productive, the last thing you want is a faulty keyboard or a chair that gradually lowers you under your desk every five minutes.
Often forgotten on the equipment list is a fast, reliable internet connection. Most of your work and communication is going to be over the web, so make sure you’ve got a solid network. Aside from allowing you to get on with your work, it will save you money in the long run as you can make calls all over the world for free from your company platform.
Don’t be afraid to ask your company to provide you with office supplies if you can’t afford it yourself. Employers have been known to contribute funds to computers, desk chairs, ergonomic keyboards, internet connections and much more. With the money they save on hiring premises, there is often some left over for home office supplies.
4. Turn (part of) your home into your office
As so many workers have now realized, “home office” really has to function like an office.
Here are a few quick tips on how to plan work from home offices.
Set aside a functional workspace
The idea of being productive while lying in bed with a coffee is a nice one, but after 10 minutes, you’ll quickly realize it’s not going to work. Instead, take a quiet space at a desk or table, lay out everything you need to work and sit in a comfortable, high-backed chair.
One of the most common tips to work from home: Place your workstation away from your TV area, bookcase, or kitchen — whatever your distractions are.
If you have the background noise of kids, construction, or traffic, invest in some noise-canceling headphones to really get in the zone.
Pack your equipment away at the end of the day
Not all of us live in mansions with a separate room for every activity. It’s likely that your home office will double as a living room or dining room, and by clearing away your workspace at the end of the day, you can properly disconnect which is healthier in the long run.
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5. Create a daily routine — and stick to it!
Procrastinators beware! The list of essential housekeeping tasks that arise when you’re not being observed will never end. You need to resist the urge to get into a habit of distraction.
Just ask yourself: would I be cleaning the top of the fridge mid-morning if I was in a traditional office space? Arriving at the end of the working day knowing you haven’t accomplished what you should have is detrimental to your mental health. So implement the pomodoro technique, use time-tracking software, or whatever works for you and be strict with your deep focus times — just like you would in the office.
Don’t neglect break times in your working from home plan either! Part of your working schedule needs to include downtime to switch off, relax, and eat.
Make a habit out of leaving the house too. It’s amazing how many remote employees actually miss the commute because it's time to get out of the house. So rather than staying stuck to the screen, plan for working from home walks outside when you have a break.
6. Be strict with your working day
Flexibility is one of the main attractions for companies that plan for working from home. However, for those without a working from home plan, that same flexibility can make your day bleed into your night.
In a traditional office, your environment encourages a healthy amount of pressure to keep you motivated. When you know you’ve got a project to finish and the doors will be locked at 8 p.m., you can focus better with the promise of a relaxing night ahead.
However, many remote employees fall into the trap of kicking the can down the road. The thinking is they can always do it later like some sleepless superman, so why do it now?
Aside from being incredibly unproductive, this is a terrible habit for your mental and physical health. Therefore, have an incentive like a walk or a TV program at the end of your working day so you can maintain that all-important work-life balance.
7. Prepare for work the night before
Just like in the office, your working from home plan should include preparing for your day in advance. You don’t have to be exhaustive about it. Simply opening your calendar and setting the time you want to spend on each of your tasks is enough.
See if there are any meetings you can prepare for and turn up with confidence, rather than scrambling together some notes two minutes before you start. But it doesn’t stop at your schedule. It’s easy to neglect a bit of sunshine in your work from home plan.
Although the idea of cooking at midday sounds nice, it adds some unnecessary stress to your routine. Instead, prep those meals the night before — in bulk if you can. With this extra preparation, you can get out and about at lunchtime and switch your brain off for a moment.
8. Set up a communications strategy
Managers looking into how to plan work from home schedules should put a lot of focus on how they communicate with their team. Too little and you have a lack of oversight. Too much and your employees will be on a one-way track to burnout.
Video call software has been around for years with Skype and Zoom leading the market. However, many all-in-one business platforms, like Bitrix24, now include excellent HD video calls as standard. They are essential for remote teams, as with video, you can see people’s expressions and communicate much better.
A lot of teams have written up a working from home plan that includes daily stand-up meetings to kick the day off. Everybody briefly shares their progress on projects and their tasks for the day, making the remote office seem less isolated. But there are all kinds of other communications strategies you can implement.
Here is a brief list of a communication work from home work plan template: One video constantly on for anyone in your team to join Daily morning stand-ups on video A video weekly round-up Task-related work in your project management tool A social instant messenger channel Thursday night socials on video.
9. Work with the same tools
For managers working with remote employees, being on the same page is absolutely necessary. If you’re all working with your own toolkit, you’ll see important messages getting lost, files sent in the wrong format, and a slow breakdown of your communication.
The most prominent example of where using the same tools can save you is in project management — an essential part of any working from home plan. Yes, you might have an employee or two who complain that they have their own methods that they’re used to, but trust us, a little training in the beginning will fully repay itself later. Keep track of every task you assign in one tool that everybody has access to.
You can attach various people to the same task, from a responsible person to a simple observer, and each one will get notifications when there are updates. Speaking of updates, forget isolated instant messages about changes here and there.
It’s a simple rule: any task-related communication takes place within the task itself on your project management platform. That way, you’ve got a clear, chronological explanation of how a task has evolved, along with names of those in charge of it.
10. Get out and smell the flowers
When you’re working and living in the same place, bad habits can emerge. One of the top offenders here is getting too comfortable staying inside. You might be able to deal with this for a day or two, but you’ll quickly find yourself going slightly stir crazy, losing motivation, and suffering from brain fog.
Similarly, we’re social animals. Even if you’ve got a hectic day on, it’s important to have some human interaction. Get out for a coffee, have a bit of small talk with the barista — anything that will break the silence in your silo.
It can be hard to remember this essential aspect of self-care, but with a working from home plan that specifically sets aside time for walks, exercise, or meeting up with a friend for lunch, you can start building habits that will benefit you in the future.
By following our tips for an efficient working from home plan, you’re well on the way to enjoying a sustainable remote career.
However, without the right tools, it’s simply impossible to work in a team.
Bitrix24 provides everything you need for a seamless working from home experience. From project management and time tracking tools to instant messenger and HD video calls, your whole team can come together on one platform. Like 10,000,000 companies before you, you can get started for free today and take your remote work planning to the next level.
How can a beginner work from home?
If you’re new to a remote office, use this work from home work plan template:
- Agree on conditions with your boss Set expectations with people at home.
- Set up a professional workstation.
- Stick to your daily routine Use the right tools for your role.
- Take time for self care.
Which tools are most useful for remote employees and coworkers?
Remote employees and coworkers frequently use:
- Cloud storage Instant messenger.
- Video chat.
- Project management software.
- Time tracking.
- Reminders and notifications.