A couple of years ago, one might consider remote working to be just another trend but not anymore.

As per The State of the Remote Job Marketplace report from FlexJobs, 2.9% of the total US workforce works from home at least half the time.

Considering the increased flexibility and autonomy that comes with remote working, it’s safe to say that the future of work is remote.

However, it’s not as glamorous and easy-going as it sounds. It takes a whole lot of gumption to not go the conventional route and opt for working remotely.

Having worked remotely with Writers Per Hour for over four years, here are six key lessons I learned as a remote worker that might help you plan your foray into the world of remote work.

#1: Follow a Routine

One instantly relates remote working to working in your pyjamas but that’s something I completely disagree with.

You might choose to work from your couch and wear pyjamas but getting overly comfortable may tend to go against you. There will come a point when it will impact your productivity and concentration, preventing you to deliver work to the best of your ability.

What works for me is following a set routine – I wake up, get ready, leave home and work from a café. I prefer following a regular, workday routine because it keeps me charged up and motivated.

However, if you don’t wish to go to a nearby café or co-working space, make sure you change out of your pyjamas and have a dedicated workspace at home. Believe it or not – that’s the first step to being more productive and less distracted.

#2: Organize your Work Schedule

The importance of organization cannot be denied – especially when you are working independently or remotely. As a remote worker, you are in charge of your own motivation and the faster you realize that, the better it is.

I highly recommend organizing your work schedule for the day. You don’t have to plan for the entire month. All you need to do is plan your day, make a to-do list and strive to check everything off that list.

Make sure you prioritize your tasks well – identify urgent and important tasks, rank the tasks and most importantly, give yourself realistic goals.

#3: Leverage Remote Work Tools

If you think a Word document of Excel sheet will help you manage and track tasks, you are mistaken.

Whether you’re communicating with clients or managing a team of remote workers – having access to the right remote tools is essential for success.

Here’s a list of remote working tools that I have found to be hugely beneficial –

  • Communication – Slack
  • File sharing – Google Drive, Dropbox
  • Project management – Trello, Basecamp, Asana
  • Time management – Toggl, Timely, Time Doctor
  • Invoice tracking – Hubstaff, QuickBooks
  • Video conferencing – Zoom, Skype

Leveraging remote tools will help you be more efficient and save you ample time.

#4: Keep the Communication Going

One of the biggest challenges remote teams face is communication.

The lack of facetime, cultural differences and working with people across various time zones makes it difficult to effectively communicate with each other which is why as a remote worker, you need to take extra efforts to communicate.

Whether it’s building a strong rapport with the team or keeping each other aligned on the progress – make it a point to keep the communication going by having regular voice or video calls, leveraging communication and collaboration tools, and scheduling yearly/monthly retreats (if budget permits).

Don’t be afraid to over-communicate – it’s better than giving way to miscommunication.

#5: Allow Yourself Some Downtime

During my first few months as a remote worker, I realized the absence of ‘work hours’ started going against me. I was unable to strike a balance between my work and personal life which led to burnout and affected my mental health.

Don’t make that mistake.

You’re your own boss here and just the way you’re in charge of your own productivity, the same holds true for your mental and physical health. You need to give yourself time to relax, have a social life and just shut down that laptop.

When you set a routine, make sure you make time for rejuvenation – it can be a physical exercise, taking up a hobby, watching Netflix or anything else that brings you joy.

By actively drawing boundaries, you are bound to be happier and more productive.

#6: Go Out and Meet People

What you don’t realize about remote working is that it can get extremely lonely. Day after day, it’s just you and your laptop. For people who like socializing, remote working can start to prick.

Hence, make it a point to get out of your house and meet people so that the lack of human interaction in your workspace does not start affecting your mental health.

While these are the most important lessons, I’ve learnt in the last four years, my biggest advice to anyone who wants to become a remote worker is that you should get into it for the right seasons.

If you’re looking to run away from your demanding boss or office politics, remote working is not the solution.

With the right intent and (immense) self-motivation, there can be no stopping you from becoming a happy, healthy and productive remote worker.