Tips for Being the Ultimate Remote Worker

By Freddie Haydn-Slater

Setting up a New Orleans satellite office wasn’t a decision we took lightly at Ideawörks. But at our agency, we do our best to view every difficult situation as an opportunity. With that in mind, 2020 has given us an abundance of opportunities.  And whether it’s an opportunity to learn, grow or try something completely different, we pride ourselves on our ability to remain calm in a crisis and plan a path forward.

In April, we became a ‘QuaranTEAM.’ We began working from home for everyone’s safety while we navigated our new normal and began acclimating to our life of video calls and an increasing reliance on technology to help keep us connected. According to Flexjobs, roughly 3.4% of the US population (that’s about 7 million of us) were already working from home before COVID struck. Now, it’s estimated that 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home by the end of 2021 (Source: Global Workplace Analytics).

Having learned a thing or two about working remotely, we decided to push forward with an idea we’d been playing around with for some time. We already had a number of satellite employees all over the country so how we asked ourselves: how hard would it be to go a step further and open up a satellite office in New Orleans?

By the end of June, we had our plan and I had my life packed up in a U-Haul, ready for a new adventure in New Orleans. With many other workplaces exploring the idea of remote work, we thought it would be a good idea to share some of our best practices:

Designate a workspace

While it might be tempting to set up your workspace on the couch so you can binge-watch Netflix in the background, that really isn’t going to help your productivity. It’s crucial that you designate a space solely for work. Get a desk, clear some space and set up your home office. You don’t need anything fancy, just a comfortable place where you can get stuff done.

Set Internal Meetings (and Stick to Them)

One of the valid fears in any remote work situation is the fear of losing the connection you have with your teammates. We’ve found great success in daily staff video calls to go through what we accomplished the day before and what we aim to deliver that day. It keeps us accountable, it keeps us collaborative and most importantly, it keeps us connected.

Set Expectations

This is unchartered territory for many of us, so we can’t operate on assumptions. Be prepared to communicate clearly, openly and honestly with your team about any concerns you have about the new normal. For some people this transition will be harder than for others. That’s completely normal, but it also means you have to make more effort to set expectations and have those difficult conversations.

Stick to a Schedule and Take Breaks

There won’t be anyone to supervise you and make sure you’re getting your work done. This makes you responsible for staying motivated as well as knowing when to step away and give yourself a break. Try to schedule your days to allow yourself chunks of time to get in the zone and focus on a project, while also giving yourself a 10-minute break every few hours to get up, walk around and clear your mind.

“…roughly 3.4% of the US population (that’s about 7 million of us) were already working from home before COVID struck. Now, it’s estimated that 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home by the end of 2021.”

Know When to Switch Off

Your home is now your office. Your office is now your home. This may pose some difficulties in maintaining some semblance of work-life balance. When you wake up in the morning, avoid the temptation to check your email right away. Give yourself the time to get ready for the day and take care of what you need to before launching into the workday. The same goes for the end of the day. When you’re done working, do your best not to look at or respond to work-related communications. This is often easier said than done in our industry, and that’s why it’s even more important to make a concerted effort.

Dress for Success

The life of a digital nomad might seem like the perfect opportunity to lounge around in your pajamas or sweatpants. Don’t give in to this temptation. Even if it’s just from the waist up, make sure you’re presentable and dressed for success. Not only will you continue to exude professionalism, but it’ll also help you get into the work mindset.

Utilize Your Agency Toolbox

One of the great things about our industry is that you can do most of your job with a cell phone, laptop and an internet connection. This is largely thanks to all the great tools we use every day. Many of us use apps like Slack for internal communications, Dropbox for file storage, Trello for project management and have an ever-increasing dependence on Zoom. These apps form your agency toolbox and you should make sure you use them properly to help make your life—and your team’s lives—a whole lot easier.