Remote work paired with flexible working hours and asynchronous communication may sound like a drool-worthy upgrade over most office jobs. And in many ways, it is. The lack of a commute, the ability to set your own schedule, and the control you regain over your life are why so many people love working remotely.
But remote work isn't without its challenges. After the initial charm has worn off, it's easy to begin feeling quite lonely. Your personal relationships may suffer too. Over time, these challenges, along with the lack of an imposed framework with fixed hours, may impact your motivation. If you're not careful, remote work may lose the shine it once had.
But that's only if you let it. To be an effective worker, especially in the long run, you have to be proactive about how you approach the unique challenges of remote work. Here are 10 ways to stay motivated as a remote worker.
1. Create a Dedicated Workspace
A great work setup is essential for remote work. While lounging on the sofa with your laptop may seem tempting, it's not sustainable in the long run. Designate a space in your home specifically for work—a signal to yourself and others that this is your office. You don't necessarily need a full office setup; the corner of a kitchen table works just as well. The point is, create a dedicated workspace that you only use for work.
2. Establish and Stick to a Schedule
Remote work grants you the freedom to work from anywhere at any time. However, especially when you're at home, a structured schedule keeps you grounded. Design it according to your natural rhythm. If you prefer to work in the morning, start the day early and end it early too. Do the opposite if you're a night owl. Stick to the schedule as best you can to give your day some structure.
3. Minimize Distractions
Just like in a physical office, your home environment is filled with potential distractions. Keep them at bay as much as possible. Turn off the TV, close the door, mute your phone, and set boundaries with household members to prevent unexpected interruptions. While you may not get drawn into impromptu meetings like you would in an office, you still want to minimize distractions wherever you're working from.
4. Plan Your Leisure Time
Make sure your downtime is fulfilling and fun. Instead of aimlessly scrolling through social media or watching YouTube videos at random, consciously decide what activities you'll fill your downtime with. Ideally, those activities involve others. Regular meet-ups with friends or family can provide vital social interaction and a sense of connectedness, which will help boost your motivation at work.
5. Organize Your Tasks
Begin each day with clarity on what you want to accomplish. Define your goals, split large tasks into smaller and more manageable parts, and prioritize appropriately. Maintaining a clear to-do list can significantly enhance your motivation and productivity. Strive to find a balance between having enough tasks to keep you occupied and ensuring you have enough time to complete them in one workday.
6. Seek Meaning in Your Work
Understanding the purpose of your work can provide a significant motivation boost. The meaning you draw from work can be derived from various sources—personal growth, contributing to society, or supporting your family. Find what motivates you and keep it in mind when you're feeling less enthusiastic about work.
7. Prioritize Self-Care
Don't neglect your health. Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Spend time outdoors and in nature, exercise often, and make sure to take regular breaks during your workday to recharge and prevent burnout. You may not think you need these rest periods, but you really do.
8. Leverage the Perks of Remote Work
Don't stick to the confines of your home and regular office hours all the time. Every once in a while, embrace the freedom remote work gives you. Go for a mid-day run, work from a coffee shop, or do something that wouldn't be possible in a traditional office setup. These remote work perks can significantly boost your work satisfaction and are good reminders of the benefits of remote work over office work.
9. Invest in the Right Equipment
Equip yourself with tools that make remote work easier and more enjoyable. This could mean multiple monitors, a fast internet connection, a quality webcam, noise-canceling headphones, an ergonomic workspace, or a good laptop backpack if you're often on the move. With the right equipment, your remote work experience will be much more enjoyable.
10. Foster Virtual Connections
Building strong relationships with your colleagues is just as important in a remote setting as it is in a traditional office. Connect with your team through virtual meetings, participate actively in online team activities, and make use of digital communication tools to stay in touch.
Don't let the lack of physical proximity hinder your rapport-building efforts. Remember, you're part of a team, even if you're not in the same physical location. Your work relationships can serve as a valuable source of motivation and a reminder of your shared goals and vision.
In conclusion, remote work motivation is a balance of discipline, organization, and self-care. When you're proactive about it, and when you take advantage of the unique freedom that remote work brings, you'll never want to work full-time in an office again.