The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the world’s perception of remote work. At the beginning of the pandemic, many businesses feared that workers would become less productive working from home, causing businesses to suffer. However, in most industries, remote work has proved to be extremely effective…as long as there are no Wi-Fi issues.
This shift in our understanding of the effectiveness of working from home has caused businesses to reimagine what working life can actually look like post-COVID. In fact, the companies that don’t become more flexible about working from home may lose employees to companies that are open to a hybrid of in-person and remote working.
A study conducted by Buffer, a software company, found that 97.6% of workers in 2021 reported they would like to work remotely, for at least some of the time, for the rest of their career. Although not everyone will get to continue working remotely, CNBC reported that employers expect approximately 2 in 5 employees will continue to work remotely throughout 2021.
What is remote work?
Although in the pandemic, “remote work” was synonymous with “working from home” since there was nowhere else to go, remote work post-COVID can mean a wide range of things. In fact, remote work is becoming an umbrella term for anyone who doesn’t work in an office Monday-Friday. But there are a variety of options for working remotely that aren’t in the home five days a week. These alternatives include:
- People who work from coworking spaces or cafes
- People who work remotely, but on a flexible schedule
- People who work remotely, and also come to the office from time to time
Although the flexible schedule, ability to work anywhere and the lack of daily commuting makes working remotely incredibly appealing, the adjustment from working in an office and collaborating with colleagues in-person to performing these tasks digitally can be a challenging transition.
For one, there are often multiple forms of communication you need to keep up with, including Zoom, email and message boards, such as Slack. You may also have online documents where you collaborate with your colleagues, such as Google Docs. A key aspect of remote work, therefore, is staying organized with all the various aspects of digital communication and tools you will encounter to perform your job.
Tips and tools for approaching remote work
Even if you have been working remotely for the past year due to the pandemic, you may only recently be viewing this way of working as a permanent change. Therefore, it may now be time to reintroduce real routine and structure back into your life, even if it looks a little different than it would in an office. In order to help you begin to imagine what remote work could look like as a long-term sustainable option, we have come up with four useful strategies you can implement when working at home.
Develop a routine
Something many of us took for granted when working in an office pre-pandemic, was the built-in routine and structure. You had to get up at the same time, get dressed, commute to work, plan dinner ahead of time, etc. in order to fit in everything you needed to get done in a given day. Without this built-in routine, it can be challenging to remain as productive as you once were.
By creating your own routine, especially in the morning, you can set better boundaries and work more efficiently. For instance, try not to wake up just minutes before work so that you can mentally prepare for your day before you open your computer. Maybe you meditate for 10 minutes, make a cup of tea, go on a walk to grab coffee, read the newspaper, do some meal-prep, write a to-do list each morning. Whatever it is, do it consistently and start each morning with intention.
It can also help to get dressed in the morning as if you were going to work and then change out of your work clothes once your workday is over to create those mental differences in your mind of when your home is a place of work and when it is a place to relax.
Separate your work space from the rest of your home
Before many of us saw work from home as a permanent change in our lives, we were working on couches and avoiding investing in a monitor and true work space. However, now that work from home may become a long-term option, ensuring you have a space you associate solely with work and that provides as quiet and organized a setting as possible, will help you mentally separate your home and work life. Even if you don’t have a home office, keeping an organized workspace with the proper monitors, printers, sound-canceling headphones, desk, comfortable chair, etc. makes a big difference. Try to work in the same space everyday so you associate that space and only that space with work in your home. Additionally, play around with what type of work environment works best for you. Maybe you want to sit on a medicine ball or work at a standing desk. There are many different types of home offices and finding one that makes you feel most comfortable is important.
Use apps to help manage your time
There are a variety of apps available that will lock you out of your phone and personal computer for a certain amount of time in a day or will schedule work time and breaks throughout the day so you can stay on a productive schedule and avoid distractions as much as possible. The most popular system is to work for 30 minutes and then take a five minute break. You can download a timer app, such as the Be Focused app, to help structure your work schedule in short intervals. Don’t forget that it’s important to take breaks! Additionally, some of the most popular apps to block you out of certain apps and websites on your personal devices include Stay Focused, Help Me Focus and Freedom.
Take calls on a walk (when possible)
Since remote work requires digital tools for every aspect of one’s job, screen burnout can occur rather easily where your eyes and brain become exhausted from staring at a screen all day. When possible, try taking some of your calls on a walk so you can get outside and give your eyes a break. If you can’t take your calls on a walk, still try to get outside at least once in the middle of the day even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
Where to find remote jobs
If your current employer isn’t allowing working remotely as a future option or if you are looking to switch jobs for any other reason, check out the lists below to find great job-hunting resources. Often the hardest part is finding jobs to apply for.
General remote job boards
If you are only interested in jobs that are entirely remote, check out these four job boards.
- FlexJobs – FlexJobs is likely the best overall remote job board. It allows you to curate your job search by over 50 career categories and also offer great resources to help land you a job.
- Remote – Remote.co is a great job searching tool if you are looking for a remote job as a developer, customer service rep, recruiter, designer or sales professional.
- JustRemote – Justremote.co is a good option if you are looking for an international job. While Justremoes does list jobs in the U.S., its biggest selling point is that it lists jobs worldwide so you will likely find jobs from various countries on this site that you wouldn’t find on other job boards.
- WorkingNomads – Workingnomads.co offers jobs in 15 different career categories, its largest category of available jobs being for software developers and engineers (by a landslide). WorkingNomads has a great user experience and you can sign up to receive job alerts in any of its 15 categories.
Freelance job boards
- Freelancer – Type-in any keyword into the Freelancer search engine and find thousands of available freelance jobs. You can even put in filters for hourly pay or the time frame of a job.
- Upwork – Upwork offers freelance opportunities in eight different career categories; however, they offer the most listings in the design and creative space.
- Fiverr– Fiverr is set-up slightly differently from other job boards because freelancers and businesses are matched by a customer success manager on the site. To join the freelancer pool, click “become a seller” on the Fiverr website and fill out your profile.
Tech-related job boards
- Dribble – Dribble is the perfect job board website if you are a graphic designer looking for work. Through this website, you can filter jobs based on whether you are looking for full-time or contract work and you can even filter based on graphic design specialties.
- Dice – Dice is a tech job board that mainly focuses on developers and engineers. Dice is particularly useful because it will help you discover different tech career path options based on what you are doing now and give you insights into salary ranges for those different career paths.
- AuthenticJobs – If you are in the design, creative or developer space, AuthenticJobs is the website for you. One of the benefits of this website is that you can filter by full-time, part-time, freelance and even internship if you are just starting out.
General interest job sites
- Indeed – You can never go wrong with Indeed since there are endless job listings added each day to the site and you can search for any job category you like. If you haven’t narrowed down much yet in your job search, Indeed is a good place to start because they have all types of job opportunities and both remote and in-person options available.
- CareerBuilder – When you build an account with CareerBuilder, you will get jobs recommended to you based on what you describe about your career goals. CareerBuilder also provides helpful salary information and career advice if you are feeling unsure about where to even begin or what to expect.
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn the perfect job board site if you are good at networking. LinkedIn allows you to search for jobs that have people in your network working there and even help you connect with alumni from your high school and college.
Internet connection and remote work
With millions of Americans working remotely, a strong home internet connection has never been more important and will become increasingly essential as technology advances. Without time to prepare for remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans had to make-do with whatever internet provider was available to them.
For those living in more rural areas or living on a lower income, having to rely on home internet proved to be a real challenge. In fact, WhistleOut released a study at the beginning of the pandemic that revealed one-third of remote workers reported a dip in productivity due to a weak internet connection. Even those living in densely populated areas often struggled to maintain a good internet connection as a result of so many people being online at the same time and internet companies having to throttle speeds in many areas. As a result, many Americans weren’t even given the speeds they paid for.
If you’re concerned you aren’t getting fast enough internet speeds, take our speed test and learn more about what speeds you should be able to expect from your provider.
What internet speed do I need to work remotely?
If you are the only person in your household working remotely, you can likely get away with a plan between 40 and 100 Mbps. However, if you have multiple people working from home, you will need a faster plan.
A good rule of thumb to follow for choosing an internet plan is to divide the number of devices you will have connected to the Wi-Fi at a time by the speed plan you are considering. You will want the result of that number to be between 40 and 100 Mbps. This means if you have four devices connected to the Wi-Fi network, you will need a speed plan between 150 and 400 Mbps.
If you live in a more rural area, internet plans with these speeds may not be an option for you or they could be incredibly expensive. Although fiber optic internet is the ideal service type for working from home and cable internet is the next-best-option, if you are living in a less-dense area with limited internet options, try to go with DSL or fixed wireless over satellite internet if you can.
Additionally, if you are looking to travel while working remotely, you will need to determine what type of internet plan (satellite vs. wireless vs. public Wi-Fi) is best for you while on the road.
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