Interested in learning about remote work?
“Work from home” and “COVID-19” have become synonymous in 2020.
And while many companies are asking their workforce to work remotely, it’s hard to stay productive when you’re working from home (whether you’re wearing pants or not!)
Even when it feels like things are running smoothly, Michael Scott reminds us there’s a lot to learn and improve on:
So what is remote work exactly?
And more importantly, how do you stay productive when working from home?
At ClickUp, our entire team is working remotely. But that’s not stopping us from releasing cool new features every week and growing faster than ever!!
In this article, we’ll highlight four key benefits of remote work and five tips to help you stay on top of your game even when you’re working from home!
We’ll also clear four common misconceptions about the remote work lifestyle, and if you’re looking for job opportunities to work remotely, we’ve got that covered too.
This article contains:
(Click on the links below to jump to a specific section)
- What is remote work?
- The 4 key benefits of remote work
- Five tips for managing remote work efficiently
- Four common misconceptions about remote work
- Where can you find remote work?
Let’s get started.
What is remote work?
Remote work is any work that can be done remotely — you don’t have to be physically present in an office to do the job.
Some tasks you can do remotely include:
- Content writing
- Software development
- SEO and digital marketing
- Accounting and bookkeeping
- Financial analysis
- Legal work
- Customer support
- Tech support
But how is it different from in-office work?
To start with, you’re not in an office (no kidding, Sherlock!)
But as for the tasks themselves, there’s no major difference!
Working remotely on any task is pretty much like working from a traditional office.
I mean, you’re not going to find an entirely new way of accounting just because you’re doing it from your house, right?
What can’t I do remotely?
Naturally, you can’t perform any tasks that require you to be physically present.
Remember when Michael had to drive around inspecting the various Dunder-Mifflin plants? Yeah, he couldn’t do that remotely.
The 4 key benefits of remote work
Sure, working remotely lets you work from the comforts of your home.
But that isn’t the only benefit you get.
There are several benefits of working remotely!
And we’re not just talking about benefits like working with no pants on.
Let’s have a glance at four key benefits of remote work:
1. Cost savings
Fact: You save money by working remotely!
Simple: By not spending it on your daily commute and cafeteria meals!
As you’ll be working remotely, you save on expensive Uber rides or commuter train journeys.
You also get to eat healthy home-cooked meals and try making coffee yourself instead of spending on countless Starbucks espressos!
Additionally, employers save a lot too by hiring and onboarding a remote workforce.
They don’t have to spend on:
- Office rent and maintenance
- Utilities like electricity and internet
- Office equipment like computers and printers
- The list goes on!
It’s a win-win for the employers and virtual teams!
2. Improved work life balance
Sometimes, going to work can be super exhausting with all those never-ending shifts.
And when that happens, we start to relate with Darryl here:
By working remotely, you can avoid these endless work hours while maintaining a healthier work-life balance!
- Save time and avoid the hassle of the daily commute
- Take advantage of flexible working hours to spend more time with your family or finally take those French or guitar lessons
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle by working out at home and eating healthier meals
Additionally, with a healthy work life balance, you become more productive and satisfied with your job. And that’s going to lead to increased productivity — which could help you earn those monthly incentives!
3. Work in a diverse team (and have diverse clients)
Remember how weird Michael’s Diversity Day was?
While that was a complete failure, working in a diverse environment can be one of the best things for your remote team!
A company’s culture contributes to the team’s growth and strengthens their chemistry.
With a remote team, you can hire skilled talent from around the world — opening up avenues for diversity and inclusion in your company’s culture.
And as each person brings a unique set of skills and expertise to the work environment, members can learn and draw inspiration from each other. This also helps create room for creativity, innovation and better decision-making within the team.
Additionally, this opens doors to new markets now as you have a workforce of people across time zones. This way, your company can operate 24×7, and cater to clients all over the world!
4. Increased transparency
Sometimes, critical information and announcements are passed around during your daily coffee breaks.
And if you’re not around, you might lose out on those super important details.
You may even start feeling like Michael:
However, when employees work remotely, everything is shared on a single platform.
For example, all team members will be using the same project management tool to manage their projects and tasks.
How does this help?
As everyone’s using the same platform, all the information is going to be recorded and will be accessible to everyone.
This way, it’s easy to keep the team on the same page regarding any project or task and no one’s going to feel left out!
Five tips for managing remote work efficiently
Sure, there are benefits to working in a remote environment.
However, if you don’t manage your remote work life well, you might end up in a fix.
I mean, when you’re home, would you rather work or watch Netflix?
We don’t want that to happen, do we?
Clearly, Kevin has some tips for you:
But unfortunately, using Kevin’s idea of talking like Yoda and saying phrases like “remote work meaning?”, won’t get you anywhere.
Luckily, here are some actionable tips that will actually help you with your remote work:
1. Use remote project management tools
When you’ve got tons of projects and tasks at hand, how do you handle each one?
Fortunately, you have remote project management tools like ClickUp to help you organize projects and collaborate with your team remotely.
ClickUp is one of the best-rated remote project management tools that’s used by 100,000+ teams in companies ranging from startups to giants like Airbnb, Google, Uber and Netflix!
(In fact, ClickUp won in the category of: Redefining Project Management at the 14th Dundies Awards)
Here’s how ClickUp helps your remote workforce:
A. Easily assign tasks
Everyone needs to be on the same page when working as a distributed workforce.
ClickUp helps you:
- Create and assign tasks to team members
- Add and assign subtasks to help teams complete the project easily
- Set priorities for your team to attempt the most important tasks first
For example, you can create a task for onboarding new employees.
You can then split this task into subtasks according to the steps involved in your company’s onboarding process. This way, anyone who’s in charge of the onboarding process knows what they have to do!
Also, as everything’s charted out carefully, it’s easy for you to keep a check on everything in case something goes wrong.
B. Track task progress
Most task management apps give you default task statuses that have nothing to do with your project.
I mean, do you really need a “testing” stage for writing a blog post?
However, ClickUp lets you create custom task statuses that reflect your project’s needs accurately. For example, you can create an “update requested” stage for your agile project management tasks.
This way, all you need to stay on top of your scrum projects is a glance at a task’s status (in a Kanban or even a list format) to know what stage it’s in.
But what if you don’t like Kanban?
Just switch to ClickUp’s List view with a single click. Something you could never do if you used tools like Trello!
C. Seamlessly collaborate over projects and tasks
How do you collaborate with a distributed workforce?
With ClickUp, that’s a piece-of-cake!
Each task in ClickUp has a dedicated comment section which lets you:
- Discuss projects with team members in real time
- Share files or attach links to keep everyone updated
- Assign comments to team members and convert comments to tasks to ensure they don’t go unnoticed
But these aren’t all of ClickUp’s features!
This task management app also gives you a wide variety of features like:
- Project management automation: automate hundreds of actions within the app
- Team reporting: track your remote team’s performance in real-time
- Profiles: know what each member’s currently working on quickly
- Collaboration detection: know when someone works on the same task as you are
- Notepad: a personal notepad for you to quickly jot down anything you want to
- Mobile apps: manage tasks from your iOS and Android devices
2. Conduct regular video meetings
Using instant messaging tools like Slack to communicate isn’t always the right approach.
As you’re mainly limited to short text messages, you won’t be able to:
- Have detailed project discussions
- Conduct review meetings to check on your remote workforce
- Develop your team’s chemistry and build team spirit
So what can you do?
Use video conferencing tools like Zoom (integrates with ClickUp) Google Hangouts (now called Meet) and Microsoft Teams instead!
- Get on-call with tons of team members at once to communicate broad-scale announcements
- Share your screen to explain complicated things better
- Have face to face interactions with your team to build better team chemistry and keep everyone connected
Video calls can be perfect for all your scrum meetings if you are running agile projects!
3. Create a set of ground rules
Let’s say you’re in the middle of a really important client video call (not an internal team meeting where you vote on the best donut place.)
And then, BOOM… this happens!
Most of us don’t want to end up in a BBC gif like this!
So what do you do?
Stop it from happening!
Toby was a distraction to Michael, so Michael always tried to stay away from him.
Set healthy boundaries with people around you while you are working remotely!
So what measures should you take?
This could be anything like:
- Letting your family know when you have a meeting and will be unavailable
- Closing your door and informing your family that they shouldn’t bother you until you come out
- Rewarding toddlers and children for not bothering you during work hours
And if you’re managing a remote team, you need ground rules for them as well!
You should set guidelines, like:
- The core hours during which everyone should be available
- The communication channels (phone calls, messages, video calls) to be used
- A fixed day and hour for the weekly review meetings
Setting these guidelines will help you create a structure to work around — which will help you adapt to remote work faster!
4. Create a dedicated workspace for work arrangements
Working from your bed is never a great idea!
Our brain associates beds with rest and sleep.
So being in bed naturally makes you feel sleepy, leading to unproductivity.
What do you do instead?
While working from coworking spaces is a no-go right now, you can set up a makeshift workspace at your desk instead. Just place your files, stationary and all the supplies that you need for work on the desk and you’re good to go.
You won’t be running around the house looking for that important file anymore!
Additionally, it helps your family recognize what areas to avoid during your work hours. You’ll also be working at a place you don’t necessarily associate with sleep and will be working in the correct posture.
(Your back is going to love you for this!)
And you might even create wonders, like Ryan Howard, who created Wuphf.com from his personal office space in a kitchen closet!
5. Take breaks and track your time
Working continuously for hours can lead you down a spiral of unproductivity!
How do you escape?
By tracking your work time using ClickUp’s native time tracker and taking breaks at appropriate intervals.
Taking short breaks during work keeps your mind focused and fresh. But as you can’t head to the park for a quick stroll, you can move around your room, read a book or watch something on Youtube to keep your spirits high!
But what if the break runs too long?
Use any time management app like Time Doctor, Toggl or Everhour to keep track of how long you are working.
Or, use tools like Vitamin-R or Take A Break, Please to keep track of your breaks easily.
Now you can take breaks without worrying about losing time!
This is one of the most important workplace analytics you could implement, alongside the usual global workplace analytics like profitability tracking, since it directly impacts productivity.
Four common misconceptions about remote work
Know how everyone’s confused about what Creed’s past is?
Well, people are just as confused about remote work!
While remote work is #trending these days, most companies as well as their employees are rather apprehensive about it.
But don’t worry, unlike The Office’s explanation of Creed’s backstory, we’re going to clear up the mysteries and scandals!
A. Misconceptions about work
Here’s a closer look at two misconceptions that most employees have about a remote position:
1. Question: Is it a 24×7 job?
Companies hire remote workers from across the globe and they operate with flexible work hours.
So does this mean that you have to work round the clock?
The answer is No!
With remote employees working in different time zones, there might only be a few overlapping hours when everyone is working. Most companies call these their core working hours.
For example, the last few working hours of a remote employee in India may overlap with the first few working hours of another remote employee in the United States.
Most remote teams adjust their day’s work to include these overlaps so that they can get together for meetings and clarifications. But apart from being available for that small time window, you can pretty much structure your workday as you want!
2. Question: Do remote workers get paid less?
People believe that working from home comes with a salary cut.
Is it true?
Your salary chiefly depends on:
- The job profile
- The salary structure of the company
- Your skills and experience
It doesn’t matter if you come to the office or if you work from home, if your skill sets fit the bill, you’re most likely going to get paid just as much!
B. Misconception about remote workers
Most employers hesitate to hire a remote worker due to a number of concerns.
Here’s a look at the two most common ones:
1. Question: Is remote communication a challenge?
When Dwight and Jim were put in the same room, it lead to this:
And if there was this much trouble with people in the same room, your remote workforce is going to find it even harder, right?
All you need is a good set of communication tools to share project information and have detailed discussions.
- Quickly clarify doubts with instant messaging apps like Slack
- Use video conferencing apps like Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams to host virtual meetings
- Use tools like ClickUp to easily collaborate with your team on your tasks
These communication tools will keep your remote workers on the same page about their projects, even if they’re miles away from each other!
2. Question: Are remote workers less productive?
Here’s what every employer thinks a remote worker is like:
But that’s just not true!
Ask anyone who’s worked remotely and they’ll tell you that they have a healthier work life balance.
This makes your employees happier and more satisfied with their jobs.
And happier employees translate to increased productivity!
Still have some doubts about their productivity?
Just use performance monitoring tools like Time Doctor and Clockify to monitor the productivity of your team members. They’ll ensure that your employees are actively working on their tasks and not wasting time on websites/apps that violate your company’s remote work policies.
Where can you find remote work?
The current COVID-19 outbreak has naturally prompted people to look for remote jobs too!
No need to worry though, because there are tons of opportunities for job seekers to work in a fully remote company or one that employs distributed teams.
And don’t fret, searching for remote work jobs isn’t as difficult as finding mediocre Office episodes!
Here’s a look at some popular telecommuting job boards:
Remote.co has great telecommuting job opportunities across various industries for job seekers. Ranging from fully distributed teams to part-time ones, you’ll find tons of opportunities here. Remote work options range from content writing to even human resource management.
Popular job categories include:
- Content writing
- Data entry and management
We Work Remotely offers high caliber positions in remote companies located around the world. Their job board has a simple, straightforward view without any annoying surveys or pop-ups.
Popular job categories include:
- Digital marketing
- Software development
- Customer support
FlexJobs is another job board where you can find various distributed companies offering telecommuting work. There are tons of telecommuting jobs here — ranging from freelance work to a full-time remote position.
Popular job categories include:
- Online coaching
- Software development
This time remote work looks like it’s going to stay — even after the COVID crisis is way behind us.
Luckily, working remotely doesn’t have to be difficult!
Once you understand what it is and more importantly, what it isn’t, you can easily start getting used to it!
Why not start by mapping your entire workflow in ClickUp like this?
- Create projects and tasks
- Assign tasks to your team members and set due dates and priorities
- Monitor progress with custom task statuses, gantt charts (and more for agile / scrum teams)
- Have conversations with comment sections.
Just follow the tips we listed here, and you’ll be a telecommuting rockstar!
Skyrocket your productivity with the right remote project management tool when you sign up for ClickUp today, and win the Dundies Award for the Most Productive Remote Employee!