This remote work guide was compiled as a resource for friends and colleagues, asking, “how do you work remotely?”, “What challenges does a remote worker face?” and “How can I do it too?”
I hope you find much use out of it, and if you’re already a remote worker, I hope you share it with the people asking you similar questions.
Who this remote work guide is for: Remote workers, managers, and employers.
What Is Remote Work?
Simply put, remote work describes any type of work that doesn’t require you to go to a fixed office location. You can work from your home, a cafe, co-working space, a car, from a hill station, or anywhere you feel like.
All you need is a laptop (tablet or desktop) and an internet connection (a good one!).
Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of remote working, we’ll look into different types of remote work.
Types of Remote Work
Remote workers belong to different types of team structures and cultures. Let’s take a look at the types of remote work:
A fully remote company doesn’t have any central offices, and employees work from home or anywhere they prefer. While this setup can have challenges, it also has its perks.
Teams like Buffer, Springworks, InVision, and Zapier are good examples.
Distributed teams are composed of employees who work remotely from different parts of the world with varying time zones rather than being centralized at a single physical office.
That means that your head of marketing could be based in New York, but her team members live and work in Mumbai, London, or San Francisco.
Flexible Option to Work-from-Home
Some companies allow employees to work from home a few days every week and come to the office for the rest. Companies also help employees in setting up their home offices.
Remote Work Stats 2023
Today, we are witnessing a shift where more and more jobs are being done somewhere other than at the office.
Have you ever been curious about the potential of remote work?
Don’t worry! We’ve done all the research for you. In this section, we’ve compiled some fantastic remote work statistics for you to work through.
81% of survey respondents said they’d be more loyal to their employer if they had flexible work options. (Source)
80% of remote workers experience less work-related stress. (Source)
Eighty-two percent of respondents described their company’s transition from office to remote work as smooth. (Source)
By the end of 2021, the percentage of knowledge workers worldwide working remotely is expected to rise from 27% (2019) to 51%, according to Gartner, Inc. (Source)
According to Buffer, 22% of remote workers struggle with unplugging from their work.
Companies with optional remote work have a 25% lower turnover. (Source)
Only 76% of new hires agree they have what they need to do their job from home. (Source)
It is estimated that by 2025 at least 70% of the workforce will perform remote work five days a month. (Source)
56% of workers aged under 35 would work from shared offices and working spaces. (Source)
A report by Workforce Futures found that 89% of people believe that working remotely should be the default mode of doing work. (Source)
Remote Work is Future of Employment
With the need to have a diverse workforce and overcome the constraints of distance, more and more organizations are getting inclined towards remote work.
While there are many benefits of remote work, one of the most obvious ones includes employees becoming more productive and profitable.
Similarly, employees who work from home are happier, healthier, and exercise better control over their finances. They also stay more loyal to their companies and enjoy the freedom and flexibility to set their schedules.
All of these make remote work a good idea for a sustainable work environment and business model.
“I want to have a good job, but I also want to have a life.” This phrase sums up one of the most important statements of Millennial and Gen-Z workers.
Today, more than ever before, people are working in places outside of the traditional office. As a result, coworking spaces are a booming industry all their own. Going to an office, sitting at a desk for eight hours, and going home at the end of the day is no longer the undisputed norm.
Remote Work: Myths vs. Facts
To give employers and prospective remote employees an accurate look inside the work style, here are the three biggest remote work myths we’ve ever heard and the real story behind them.
1. Remote employees are lazy and barely do work
Time and again, this theory has been disproven. Many remote workers say they work longer hours than office employees who have hard stops at the end of the day.
As the lines between home and work blur, it’s hard to know when to walk away from the office. It’s too easy to open up the laptop, work on a task, and find yourself still staring at your computer three hours later.
2. You’ll have a way better work-life balance
When someone envisions you working from home, they might imagine you doing a few work tasks, then taking on other home-life related work. Everyone around you will assume that working remotely means you have more time to manage your personal life.
However, you still have a job to get done, but sometimes people assume they can walk up and talk to you, hang out, or ask you to run errands. How to fix this? Just say, “I’m sorry, I’m at work right now, let’s discuss this when I’m not working,” even though it can be hard to do.
3. You can’t be a people manager if you’re remote
In fact, one of the biggest myths that Springworks has disproved time and time again is that “remote workers can’t be good managers.” Actually, a large chunk of our 150+ remote workforce is made up of mid to high-level managers.
4: Remote Work Implies a Lack of Accountability
Remote work is not synonymous with a lack of accountability. In fact, successful remote work environments often rely on clear expectations, communication, and goal-setting. Metrics and key performance indicators can be established to measure progress and ensure accountability, fostering a results-oriented work culture.
5. Remote Work Requires 24/7 Availability
A common misconception is that remote workers must be available around the clock. Establishing clear boundaries between work and personal life is crucial for remote workers’ well-being. Companies can foster a healthy work culture by encouraging employees to set realistic expectations for working hours and breaks.
Dispelling myths about remote work is essential for understanding its true potential and challenges. As organizations continue to navigate the evolving landscape of work, embracing the facts about remote work can lead to informed decisions that benefit both employers and employees.
5 Common Mistakes To Avoid While Working Remotely
Before “Work-from-home” became a lifestyle, employees used this feature once in a while to work comfortably from home or during a vacation. But, as remote work is slowly taking over, it has become essential to maintain a proper work-life balance. However, some employees fail to maintain the scale by making several mistakes. This results in burnout, stress, incomplete work, and much more.
When the pandemic first came into the scene, remote work was the only option to maintain large-scale businesses, and both employers and employees made several mistakes. But, during the span of two years, organizations are slowly coping with the lifestyle by learning from previous mishaps.
Though previous employees are already familiar with the ways, freshers need to cope with the work style. To ensure that you don’t burn out, you should avoid some common mistakes while working from home.
1. No Time Limits
Remote work has introduced flexible timings as well. Though it sounds exciting, flexible timing is one of the major reasons for employee burnout. Due to this “flexible timing,” employees do not stick to their routine and work for long hours to complete the tasks. This results in stress and sleep deprivation and causes mental breakdowns.
Setting time limits and creating routines will help employees in avoiding burnout. The least they have to do is stick to the schedule and complete the tasks on said time. Though flexible timing is good, you can make it work for you by sticking to your routine.
2. Remaining Unavailable
Various video calling apps have provided a platform for team members to communicate and conduct meetings with clients and managers. However, it is quite common to put yourself on mute and do other chores. But, it’s essential to remain available for your team members as well.
There’s an important meeting with your team members and project managers regarding creating strategies for managing clients and their projects. You are expected to come up with some new strategies for the problem during the meeting, but you are unavailable or have muted yourself during the meeting and not given any insights. Such conduct can result in a massive loss for the company, and you might even get fired.
So, keep yourself available during important meetings and discussions to avoid missing out on anything. If possible, always call someone from a computer instead of your phone, as that requires you to stay in one place.
3. Abusing Work Policies
Abusing work policies means taking unlimited breaks, spending time doing other things during work hours, and not delivering your best. Working from home has made it possible to maintain a proper work-life balance, giving employees the freedom to misuse opportunities.
Though it is quite difficult to work amidst the chaos of housework, you need to discipline yourself and give your best. The least you can do is maintain your work productivity and provide results as expected of you.
#4. Working From Bed
Employees’ most common mistake during remote working is doing it from bed. Unfortunately, by working from bed, you are causing harm to your health and your work productivity.
It’s pretty common to think of working from bed with a laptop, as it seems quite comfortable. But, after some time, this comfort slowly turns into laziness, resulting in low productivity. Besides, it also results in bad posture, which further causes severe back and neck pain.
The best way to avoid this mistake is by forming a home office. It’s better to invest in a desk-chair formation that is perfect for your posture and helps you remain focused on work. Apart from that, you can also get a standing desk so that you don’t spend long hours sitting on a chair. You can also get laptop tables for working from bed during lazy days.
However, make sure to invest in proper pieces of equipment that won’t cause harm to your posture and remain intact for a long time.
#5. Working on Weekends
It’s a habit for overproductive people to work overtime while in the office. But, due to remote work, this habit has recently changed to working during weekends. Though there are tons of projects and tasks, that doesn’t mean you should work during weekends.
Besides, by making the mistake of working on Sundays, you are increasing the chances of getting burnout or breakdown soon. It’s better to plan ahead for the week rather than working on weekends. Take your time off to relax and let your body unwind from the stressful week.
Though remote work has tons of benefits, if not managed properly, it can cause mishaps. We know how difficult it can get to concentrate on work while various distracting things happen in your surroundings. But, with proper schedule and planning, remote working can be a cakewalk for you.
Moreover, by working from home, you will get enough time to explore different habits & passions, spend time with family, go on vacations, and do various things which are quite impossible to do due to office work.
Remote Work Challenges (and Solutions)
Remote work sounds like a dream for some, but the stereotypical pictures of laptops on a beach are not an accurate representation.
It’s fairly misleading, since the few times I’ve tried to work from the beach, I got a poor Internet connection, sand in my keyboard, and it was bad for my posture. 😀
The idea is that even though remote working sounds like a drastic change all companies must adapt to, it’s often challenging to make the big switch. Like any change, it has its downsides and challenges to overcome.
According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report, remote workers struggle with unplugging from their work, loneliness, and communicating.
Therefore, as you make a choice for your organization, understand if remote working is suitable for your employees and helps you achieve overall success.
How to Manage Remote Teams (Tips for Employers)
Currently, remote work has become more than a trend. It’s now a necessity for organizations across the world.
As a result, thousands of team leaders and managers find themselves suddenly managing completely remote teams. As a manager, you must ensure that remote employees are engaged in your organization apart from delivering projects and tasks on time.
If you are constantly wondering “How to Manage Remote Teams” and are looking for some ideas, we have got you some resources:
How to Help Remote Employees to Get Work-Life Balance
There’s a constant and dynamic struggle to find that perfect balance between our work and personal lives.
I tend to think of life like a basket that you’re continually trying to balance evenly. If you don’t have balance, your soul will not be complete.
According to several studies, having a full personal life outside of work is likely to top money, recognition, and autonomy as the most desired success metrics.
The changing dynamics for most people disturb their lives, causing havoc both physically and mentally.
You might have met people in your life who miss parties or essential functions because they’re too occupied meeting deadlines and responding to emails even after work hours. Similarly, several employers expect you to be available for work as long as you’re conscious.
Work from home culture has undoubtedly increased the flexibility of working. However, it has also become an escape for some employers to pester their employees with work night and day, including the weekends.
Make sure such issues don’t crop up for your organization, and your employees can enjoy their non-work hours to their fullest.
Are your employees feeling like the work is creeping into their personal time to an unhealthy degree?
Remote Work Tips for Employees
Switching from a structured office environment to the comfort of your own home can be exciting, while at the same time, challenging.
No matter how many work from home tips your manager or boss gives you, your day always seems to take a weird turn around lunchtime.
The idea is that working remotely is a double-edged sword. There is no doubt that you get to stay home and plan out exercises and other stuff in the time saved. But, it also means you find it difficult to focus on your work.
Staying productive at home can become a big challenge if you find yourself turning your 5-minute breaks into a three-hour Netflix and chill time.
Moreover, if you find yourself sitting comfortably in your joggers until late afternoon, you’re not alone. Most people working from home fail to stick to a strict schedule and balance work with life.
To avoid these situations, start by sitting up straight and eating your breakfast on time. Last but not least, put on your pants! It’s one of the effective techniques to stay productive when working remotely.
How else can you stay focused on your work while working remotely?
Remote Team Building
Fun quizzes, games, and trivia are elements one does not exactly associate with the workplace. But when it comes to remote team building, you cannot choose to neglect these at any cost.
The idea is to remember that it is okay to let off some steam by having an offbeat conversation with your workers after all the efforts you made.
Be it a fun workout session, random coffee meetings, or anything; bring it on once or twice a week.
Fun benefits at work are a yes! Leverage these for employee engagement, increased productivity, and more.
Why is virtual team building important?
Even though it seems like you’re only physically distanced from work, things are otherwise mentally. When you’re not interacting with people on a personal level, feelings of loneliness, emotional distance, and isolation can easily crop up.
There can be communication issues and misunderstandings which can make you feel uncomfortable working with your colleagues. That’s why it is crucial to create a comfortable work environment for your teams.
Virtual team building can play a significant role in this regard. It can provide your workers an opportunity to feel safe and rely on each other in times of need. Right from several carefully designed strategies, games, fitness activities to a lot of other ideas, it can drive more human interaction and let people be more easygoing with each other.
Additionally, remote work helps employees connect at a deeper level and feel like they’re a part of a trustworthy community.
Wondering what you can do apart from exchanging funny photos of your dog on your Slack channel.
How to Take Care of Remote Employees’ Mental Health
Do you feel like some of your employees have disconnected from work or meetings lately?
We are not talking about the internet issues but rather their mental state. It is possible that some of your employees’ mental health deteriorates even as they work from home. Similarly, despite the reduction in the commute time, they may feel isolated and demotivated.
Pay close attention to your employee’s behaviors and find out if they are battling any negative feelings despite all the work flexibility. Working from home can impact your workers’ mental health and turn the happiest of people into tired and irritable toads.
Before you decide on any hard and fast measures, try to identify these signs of declining mental health and take the necessary steps to offer help.
What are the psychological effects of remote working?
While there can be a myriad of challenges in remote working, here are the main psychological issues faced by remote workers-
- Working from home breaks the barrier of office and personal life. Employees might feel like their home has suddenly turned into an office. It is natural to miss co-workers and to go off for watercooler conversations. Similarly, they might miss celebrating events together.
- Employees have to manage their time and create a to-do list at home that includes their chores, family time, and personal projects. As a result, they might feel anxious to do things even when they should be taking time off.
- Persisting anxiety, stress, and isolation can lead to depressive symptoms. People might feel stuck and experience a loss of productivity, leading to even more stress.
Taking care of your mental health is just as important as physical activity and eating nourishing food.
How to Take Care of Remote Employees’ Physical Health
Working from home has lots of perks (no commute, no dress code), but it also comes with temptations (the fridge). It’s not uncommon to gain weight during the first few months of telecommuting.
While workers tend to be in motion for commuting or interacting in the office, they mostly sit at their workstations at home. Therefore, gaining weight is one of the most common effects of working remotely.
Being at home gives access to the fridge at any point of the day, which is why people tend to snack more and go to the kitchen for a bite every now and then. Many times it also turns out to be a way to procrastinate work or a new project.
Either way, the calories add up. With the changing trends, more and more employers are seen adapting to the work-from-home culture. It is more work from their employees and less gossip and dependency on resources of the office.
On the other hand, employees feel much more relaxed and have better flexibility to work and enjoy life at home. However, as this involves a tradeoff, working from home must also apply proactive mental and physical health measures.
How to Create a Successful Remote Work Culture
Building a remote team culture requires a more deliberate process and proactive effort to shape. When remote workers don’t have enough face-to-face interactions, creating a company culture that successfully reaches across all the different verticals can be a big challenge.
You’ll need to rethink all processes, from hiring, onboarding, performance reviews, to team collaboration, tools, and project management.
So, as a leader or manager, what can you do to create an environment of a positive company culture within a remote-first team?
Remote Work Tools
Today, you and your team are expected to perform at the same level no matter where you’re working from.
With the help of an internet connection, it’s relatively easy for us to get most of our daily work done, whether it is publishing a blog post, sending a follow-up email, conducting a video call with a team member, or setting up a workflow to nurture prospects and customers in your CRM software.
But, when it comes to remote work, we all know internet connection doesn’t solve everything.
Tasks and obstacles are bound to arise that are challenging to manage remotely. When it comes to these complex tasks and cross-team collaboration, communication and productivity can get messy.
As the need for remote work has grown, tools and resources can help you to be as productive as possible while working from home.
Where You Can Find Remote Work Jobs
If you’re wondering where to find remote jobs, look no further. We’ve done all the research on the best remote job sites and compiled them here for you.
So, no matter what your profession is, here’s a list of remote job boards to help you find remote work opportunities.
Do you have any other powerful platforms to find remote jobs? Please drop them in the comment section below.
BONUS: How to Work In Slack
There’s no question that Slack is great for remote teams that want to stay engaged. It replicates (at least virtually) the conversations and interactions that naturally happen in a workplace.
Slack is a channel-based messaging platform, all your work conversations, files, and even third-party applications such as Zoom and Google Drive are organized in one place and accessible from anywhere.
This makes it easier to access information, collaborate effectively with your colleagues and, ultimately, get work done faster.
Do you want to learn how you and your team can get more out of Slack and make your work a little simpler in the process?
We spent a lot of hours (and coffee) to make a super helpful Slack Guide. Hopefully, this is the only guide on how to use Slack.
For employees, remote work offers increased flexibility, reduced commuting stress, and a better work-life balance. Employers benefit from access to a broader talent pool, increased employee satisfaction, and potential cost savings associated with reduced office space requirements.
To ensure productivity in a remote work environment, companies can implement clear communication channels, set realistic performance expectations, provide necessary tools and resources, and encourage a results-oriented culture. Regular check-ins and feedback mechanisms also play a crucial role in maintaining productivity.
Effective communication is vital for remote teams. Encourage the use of video calls for face-to-face interactions, establish clear communication channels and guidelines, schedule regular team meetings, and leverage collaboration tools for real-time communication. Transparent and open communication is key to remote team success.
Common challenges of remote work include feelings of isolation, communication barriers, and difficulties in maintaining work-life balance. Mitigate these challenges by fostering a strong team culture, providing mental health support, setting clear boundaries, and offering training on effective remote collaboration.
The future of remote work is influenced by trends such as hybrid work models, increased focus on employee well-being, the integration of artificial intelligence in remote collaboration, and the ongoing evolution of digital nomadism. Embracing these trends allows organizations to stay agile and adapt to the changing landscape of work.
As technology becomes more and more advanced, remote work will become even more seamless. What are your thoughts on remote work? Do you know of any tips or tools that might make our work lives easier? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!
Originally published August 26, 2021 05:08 PM, last updated Jan 02 2024