What is a Remote Worker? Complete Guide to Remote Workers
According to a Pew Research October 2020 report, 71% of employed adults worked from home due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, a research done by Gallup shows that 44% of remote workers in the U.S. would still prefer to work remotely even after restrictions are lifted and 17% would still rather work from home due to the virus. These statistics suggest that remote work models will persist in the future.
But, what exactly is a remote worker, and how can you benefit from being one? Here, we go through everything you need to know to become an effective remote worker, including what skills you need to hone, the efficient work schedule to implement, and the proper remote work setup to have.
What is a remote worker?
A remote worker is an employee who works from a remote location outside of the company’s office. If you have been working from home or telecommuting, you are considered a remote worker.
Remote workers may render service on a temporary or permanent arrangement. They could work part-time, full-time, or on a per project basis. Regardless of their specific work conditions, they are expected to meet performance expectations and adhere to the policies of the company they are working for.
Benefits of working remotely for employees
Remote work benefits both employers and employees. For employees, the benefits are numerous, and the value they get can positively impact the entire business as well.
1. Better work-life balance
Having a flexible schedule enables you to maintain a healthy balance between work and family life. You can choose what time to start and end your workday, as long as you accomplish your tasks. This gives you more time to spend with your family and pursue personal passions. Since you can work anywhere, you’d also be able to easily take trips with your family any time without having to file a leave from work.
2. Improved health and wellness
Remote workers tend to live happier and healthier lives. Aside from the freedom they have with their schedule, they are exposed to less physical and mental stress. When you work remotely, you won’t have to deal with long commutes and long hours in the office. Your potential for exposure to sick or virus-infected people would also be limited. You’d have more time to exercise, relax, and enjoy the things you love to do. This leads to improved health and well-being.
3. Higher productivity and better performance
With less office politics and fewer interruptions from other co-workers, you can perform your tasks faster and increase your productivity. You’d be able to focus on what really matters to achieve your goals more efficiently.
Skills required for a remote worker
Aside from the specialized skills required for your designated position, you also need essential skills for remote work.
1. Strong written communication skills
When working remotely, collaboration is mostly asynchronous in nature. This means that most communication is done through writing. Messages are exchanged through email, texting, Skype, or other messaging apps. So, you need to have strong written communication skills to convey messages using the right tone and level of formality.
2. Ability to focus
There may be fewer interruptions from co-workers, but there might be more distractions at home. Pets, kids, household members, and neighbors might create noise. Then, there’s also the lure of your comfy bed, television, and fridge. To meet deadlines, you must have the ability to focus on work even amidst such distractions.
3. Time management skills
With no one looking over your shoulder or managing your work schedule for you, it can be easy to get side-tracked by other things. With remote work, time management is an essential skill. You must be able to manage your time well and complete everything assigned to you according to the committed schedule. You will have very little supervision so it’s important to be mindful of how you spend your work hours.
4. Adaptability and resiliency
As a remote worker, you’d be bound to face unexpected situations where you have no other recourse but to find solutions by yourself. You must be prepared to adapt to sudden changes in workflows. You’d need a backup plan for issues that may arise, including connectivity problems, server errors, hardware breakdowns, and other glitches.
Remote work setup
To be effective as a remote worker, you should have the perfect remote work setup. Your specific setup will vary depending on the nature of your work, but there are some things you can’t do without.
1. Lighting and environment
Have a designated workspace with good lighting and clutter-free environment. Make sure that there is sufficient lighting to help you stay focused longer. Avoid fluorescent lighting, which can cause drowsiness, and opt for natural light, which adds comfort. Place indoor plants around the room and a small one on your desk to keep indoor air fresh and clean.
2. Ergonomic furniture and equipment
Get the right work-from-home equipment so you can work comfortably. Get an ergonomic keyboard and mouse to prevent wrist strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other similar problems. Invest in a good ergonomic chair that provides lumbar support. Change your desk into one that can be easily transformed into a standing desk, so you won’t have to spend hours sitting down.
3. Digital tools
Make sure you have all the tools and software you need for remote collaboration. This includes videoconferencing and messaging software, collaboration platforms, and cloud services. Instead of having disparate tools, consider getting a digital workplace that integrates all the tools you need.
Creating your remote work schedule
It’s hard to stay on a proper schedule when working remotely. It can be difficult to transition to work mode when you’re at home. However, poor scheduling can result to longer work hours than when you worked in the office. So, it is important to create a proper remote work schedule.
1. Set specific hours for work
Be definite about the hours you will be spending on work. While flexibility is great, try to be consistent. If you prefer working from 1 to 9pm instead of the usual 9 to 5pm, that’s fine, but be consistent with it. This regularity in schedule can help train your brain to switch to work mode. It would also help everyone remember your schedule. Your co-workers would know when to reach you and family members know when to avoid disturbing you.
2. Make time for breaks
Taking short breaks prevents burnout and boosts creativity. So, make sure to include breaks in your work schedule. Have coffee or a healthy snack just as you would in the office. You could also take this time to chat with a co-worker or a friend. Whatever you do, avoid doing house chores while on your work break. You’d want to be able to relax and refresh your mind for another round of work.
3. Block time for family and personal needs
Another thing you should include in your daily schedule is time for family and personal activities. Allot time and block it off. Avoid engaging in any work-related activity during this time. Use the time to exercise, take the kids to the park, have a date with your partner, or take a class that’s aligned with your interests or hobbies.
4. Leave some openings in time each day
A jampacked calendar doesn’t always equate to productivity. Don’t plot an activity every second of your day. Leave some unscheduled space on your calendar. This gives you a buffer to adjust your plans when necessary, like when there are last-minute meeting requests, delayed activities, and other unforeseen events.
The future workspace
Being able to work anywhere you are at any time you want to is the future state of work. As technology advances, remote work becomes even more effective and efficient for businesses and employees alike. To maximize the benefits it brings, learn to adapt to it by having proper remote work strategies, home office setup and schedule.