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9 January 2024 - 6 minutes

Mastering Remote Work in Tech: Tips for Productivity and Collaboration

Here’s what you need to know about making the most of your remote life. 

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It’s no dream: you’ve landed a job in tech that allows you to work remotely. One of your reasons for getting into tech, of course, was the flexibility that the field offers, so you’re incredibly pumped and moving forward, you’re looking forward to waking up just before the day starts, taking your dog on walks during lunch, and spending all day in your pajamas. 

Remote work does bring a lot of really incredible benefits–after all, it’s heavily sought after by many and more and more companies are beginning to offer remote work, at least part-time, to employees to improve their experience. During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of employees were forced to move online and while many learned how convenient it was to work from the comfort of their home, they also faced an entirely new group of challenges. 

With newfound freedom and loose boundaries between personal and work lives, many began to struggle with productivity. And for those who were used to working close to their colleagues in a collaborative manner, they were suddenly facing a new struggle: finding ways to work together over a Zoom call or Teams chat. 

Mastering productivity from your living room and ensuring your team can still flawlessly work together is quite the challenge and in this article, we’ll discuss why this can pose such a dilemma and, of course, our tips and tricks to reaching unforeseen levels of productivity and collaboration while working remotely. 

The Challenges of Remote Work 

When people talk about working remotely, they usually just mention the benefits: waking up late, freedom during the day, less meetings, no dress code, and commute-free evenings. And let’s be real–these benefits are great and many people who work remotely cherish these aspects of working from home. But despite these attractive benefits, there are quite a few challenges of remote work that can’t be forgotten. 

Let’s check them out:

  • It can be harder to stay focused: without your colleagues or supervisors nearby, it can be hard to train your focus on the task at hand. And instead of being in an office where everyone around you is working, you might be at home with pets, children, your partner, or other family members who aren’t working, who can provide quite the distraction for you.

  • It can be harder to work as a team online: depending on your exact role and how often you collaborate with your team, brainstorming or group work sessions can pose quite the challenge, making you shift the way you work as a team. 

  • Your productivity can decline: as we mentioned above, when you’re in the office, your priorities are clear: do your job. At home, you might be tempted by other responsibilities as the boundaries between your home life and work life are blurred and attempt to work while cleaning the house, taking care of children or pets, cooking, or doing laundry, leading to a decline in productivity. 

  • It can lead to overworking: when you worked in person, you left the office and your work day was probably clearly over; if your living room becomes your office, drawing clear boundaries between when it’s time to stop working and your personal life can pose quite the challenge. 

These are just a few of the challenges that you can face while remote working. And for companies, remote employees pose a whole separate group of risks: 

  • It can lead to security concerns: most remote employees simply use their personal computer or the company’s computer on their home network to work and this can lead to quite a few security risks: are employees protecting sensitive company information properly? Are their networks safe enough to ward off potential cyber attacks? In addition, does working from home mean company calls are heard by others who don’t work for the company?

  • It can lead to challenges evaluating employee productivity: when in office, it can be easy to see if someone’s surfing the internet, taking a nap, or leaving for long stretches of time. When employees are at home, however, this becomes nearly impossible and employers must be able to trust their workers. 

  • It can raise new technical challenges: with employees all working on different systems or computers with their own specific IP addresses and software, it can be difficult for IT to help when technical difficulties arise; in addition, if employees are in different locations, varying time zones or internet speeds can create inequality in how they perform. 

Now that we understand the wide range of challenges that remote working brings, let’s get right into why you’re here: tips for productivity and collaboration while remote working. 

Tips for Productivity While Working Remotely 

The laundry is piling up, you found a new recipe that looks tasty, and your partner just started a new episode of your favorite show: how can you remain productive while working remotely? Without actually being in the office, it’s a challenge for all remote workers to maintain the same focus that they would have if their supervisor was just a few desks away.

And don’t worry: we’re not going to say that getting up to walk the dog is a bad thing. In fact, remote working does bring some incredible benefits that help reduce the monotony of office work and we’re here to help you learn helpful tips to make the best of both worlds:

  • Take breaks: there’s nothing wrong with taking breaks, even if you’re working remotely. In the same way that you’d grab coffee with your co-workers or take your lunch break in a nearby park, treat your breaks while working remotely the same and try to do something new to take your mind off work. From prepping a tasty lunch or putting away some laundry, you can give yourself a break from work while being productive at home.

  • Set boundaries: your work hours are still what they were when you were in-office and you shouldn’t let being at home change that. Make sure you’re firm on when you’re available and do your best to avoid work-related tasks when you’re off the clock. If you’re having trouble sticking to them, trying to designate a specific work area in your house and if you’re not sitting at your desk, you shouldn’t be working. 

  • Create a productive workspace: your focus will drift if you’re working in an uncomfortable chair or are frequently distracted by family or roommates coming in and out of the house. Make sure you invest in a workspace that gives you the tools you need to work productively, such as a quiet environment, privacy for calls, and a comfortable chair and desk set-up. 

  • Set house rules if you share your space: it can be tempting for family members or roommates to want to chat or hang out if you’re home all day; you must remind them that although you’re at home, you’re still at work and on the clock and setting clear house rules about the work day can help contribute to your productivity. 

Tips for Collaboration While Working Remotely 

Once you’ve mastered remaining productive while working remotely, it’s time to think about improving your collaboration with team members while at home. And although it may seem impossible to work as closely as you did when you were in person, there are tools you can use to make your collaboration flow as smoothly as possible while working remotely: 

  • Choose video calls when possible: even though it may feel more convenient to use chat or messaging to chat and discuss problems, some conversations are better face-to-face and using video calls can help you avoid communication mistakes and save time. 

  • Use collaboration tools: we’re lucky to have a wide range of collaboration tools available to us as remote workers and incorporating them into meetings, letting people work simultaneously on the same project as if they were in person, helps both save time and also improves group collaboration. 

  • Be open to feedback: since you’re not seeing your team on a regular basis and communicating regularly over chat, it can be tough to truly understand how they’re doing or how they’re feeling about their role. Therefore, be open to feedback and provide ample opportunities for workers to share their opinion and suggest new tools that would improve their remote working experience. 

  • Stick to a schedule: remote work may mean that your team members are located in different places and time zones, or it may mean that you have a flexible work arrangement. Setting a firm and regular schedule helps employees save this time for meetings every week and ensures everyone is present for these gatherings. 

  • Set agendas for meetings: without a clear agenda and with everyone connecting remotely, the reason for the meeting could be lost and it could be a waste of everyone’s time. Make sure that all meetings have an agenda and clear purpose ahead of time and if there’s simply nothing to address at that point, don’t be afraid to cancel it to give your teammates more time to get their work done. 

Remote work is definitely a positive, but it should be treated in a way that encourages change, always looking for the next best way to make sure all employees are performing their best and are content. At Ironhack, we know that remote work is the future for lots of tech roles and our remote bootcamps are designed to help students both receive the tech education they deserve without having to attend in-person classes and get used to this remote way of life before beginning their first tech job. 

Does remote life sound like the right fit for you? Then get started on your tech journey today. 

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