How To Work Remotely Successfully — Some Lessons From a Veteran

Remote working is now mandatory for many people

I’ve worked remotely with many different teams, in many companies of varying sizes and shapes including Google, AVG and last year for Grayling. I think that given I’ve worked into both Northern America, Europe and also Asia back into Europe I might have some top tips for those embarking on their first sojourn into ‘remote work’.

So without further ado here are my top 10 tips!

One of the best routines I found was to behave like I ‘was’ going to the office. Alarm, coffee, meditation, exercise, shower and changed all before I walked into my allocated space for work.

2. Choose your location carefully

It’s important that when you ‘go to work’ at home that it feels like a separate space to your personal space, where you ‘play, eat, relax’ etc. Where you set up your ‘space’ really matters in terms of your mindset and attitude at the start of your day. This is especially crucial if you have children. I don’t but my brother-in-law works from home about 50% of his time each week and both children are aware that Daddy is working and he can’t be disturbed. They’re three and five and ‘get it’.

3. Figure out your arcadian rhythms

Not everyone is a morning person. I am and I know that the morning is when I do my best thinking and so I structure my day to maximise my natural energy flow. This is the time where I give myself space to consider, research, write and create. Between 3–5 pm are my lowest hours for productivity. I literally hit a wall so I try and look at doing basic admin tasks at this time or hosting review meetings or calls.

4. Log out of your social media accounts

Social media is there for networking, entertaining, sharing information but it can be a huge distraction and you can very easily get lost in a rabbit hole for hours at home on social. This will help you not become distracted by the latest meme, especially when there are so many surrounding the Coronavirus right now!

5. Use tech to facilitate virtual meetings, calls + stay connected!

I heard a lovely story from Drew Benvie at Battenhall last week on LINKEDIN saying that the company was hosting regular morning calls with Google Hangouts to stay in touch, keep the team’s energy positive and ensure they’re keeping on top of their client needs. This agile strategy is something that we used to full advantage at Google. Hence why I’m sure Google Hangouts was created!

6. Create a schedule + use timers to break your day into bitesize chunks

Utilizing strategies like the Pomodoro technique, you can stay focused for just long enough to make meaningful progress before taking a short break.

The basic method is to set a timer for 25 minutes, and then you work exclusively on the task at hand until the timer finishes. Any interruptions must be put off until the timer goes off. Then, you can take a short five-minute break before starting another 25-minute session. Every few hours you can take a longer 15–30-minute break to recharge. This is something that I have heard many a time on Tim Ferriss’s highly inspiring podcast The Tim Ferriss show where he interviews high performers.

7. Ensure you have the right tools

A fully functioning laptop is mission-critical. If you work at home and have children then noise-cancelling headphones are a godsend according to my brother in law! I found that working remotely from a sofa in a tiny hotel room in Asia was incredibly bad for my back. I would strongly recommend investing in a proper chair and desk.

8. Know when to finish!

I found this particularly hard to be honest when I was running multi-territory campaigns and agencies in over 17 different countries, different religions and therefore working weeks and timezones. However, it is vital if you’re working across geographies that there are rules of engagement that you are not expected to work beyond certain times of the day and enforce this!

9. Enjoy your meals!

If you know me at all you will know that food is very important to me and I spend far too much thinking about it. What I will buy from the shops, cook, and eat pretty much at the start of the day all the way through to when I fall asleep. I find rustling something up for myself in the middle of the day hugely relaxing and is also one of the key ways I look after my health.

10. Remember it’s just work!

If you’re new to this way of working then it might take some time to get used to it. Allow yourself some time to get used to this new world in which we all find ourselves. You’ll find your own ways to hack this new work vibe and ultimately it won’t be forever…and you never know it might lead you to new adventures and opportunities.

As ever please leave comments, thoughts, your personal tips for being productive at home as I love to hear your perspective! Stay safe and healthy people.

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Ema Linaker

Executive Director, Former @Google EMEA, @NuanceEnt and @AVGFree