As the business world continues to evolve, remote working has risen to a record level in recent months. Team this with the growth of Cloud technology and project management software used within companies, and remote working from home seems to make a lot of business sense for big brands and SMEs alike. In 2015, 23 percent of employees reported doing some of their work remotely, up from 19 percent in 2003, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows. Remote working no doubt has its challenges for the employers managing virtual teams, but as a remote worker keeping focused and managing their workload from the comfort of their own home is not as easy as it sounds! Here we explore the hacks that every remote worker can call upon to improve project management, and boost productivity and professionalism in the process.
- Treat your home like the office
Whether you have a home office to work from or are changing the world from your dining room table, treating your home like your place of work during office hours is essential.
Set best practice standards for yourself from the minute you get up for work. Whilst one of the initial perks of working from home is that you won’t have to spend time debating what to wear or part with your hard earned cash in favour of a new office wardrobe, dressing the part for the day ahead should still be on the agenda, after all no one feels professional working in their slacks. You don’t have to go for full office attire, even if you don a nicer t-shirt and jeans you will benefit from increased perceived awareness and attention to detail.
- Stick to office hours
Structure your day professionally too, avoiding the temptation to go straight from your bed to your desk or to eat lunch while you work. Break up your day as if you were working at an office by arriving at and leaving your work space at set times and taking time away from your desk to eat lunch or have a coffee break.
Creating the right environment for work is also important. If possible have a dedicated space or room to work in and give it an office makeover, this is a great step towards improving management efficiency throughout every project. Whether it’s a comfy ergonomic chair, a nice computer or a colourful bunch of flowers that makes your home feel like the office, a good work setup is conducive to great work and even better project management.
- Plan your day
The first task of your working day or the last task before you shut up shop for the evening should be to plan ahead. With so much going on at home and so many comforts to distract you, it’s all too easy to lose focus. Devise a clear and concise task list for the day ahead to help you manage the project you are currently working on and tick as you go. The mere act of ticking items off your list will give you a feeling of success and productivity like no other!
- Make communication a priority
Whether you work on your own or as part of a wider team, working remotely is all about upholding a good level of communication. Communication is essential for successful project management, and without it, how are you to know what the rest of your team is doing or how can an understanding of the project be relied between you and your client?
Devise a communication policy to keep contact with the ‘outside world’ regular and effective. Whilst urgent calls should of course be accepted, avoid telling clients and colleagues that you have an open door policy. Constant phone calls at all hours of the day will only inhibit your work rate, instead commit to a chat a week, per day, or more frequency if needed, with your clients or team at a specific time. Your communication policy will not only give you all the opportunity you need to collaborate more successfully with your team and client base, but limit problems and increase project performance in the long run.
- Streamline with software
There are tons of project management & collaboration software solutions available that make your life as a remote worker or virtual team leader a hell of a lot easier, after all you don’t have the benefit of co-workers sitting right next to you. As well as saving you time, an integrated software package will provide a continuous flow of insights, whilst additional features, such as invoice creation and time tracking, will also make project management from start to finish a smooth flowing process. Where you use countless emails to find out the latest from your colleagues, project management software packages update you on progress at a glance and in real time, which means a more productive working day for you all.
Many software packages allow you to create milestones too, which provide an essential focus point for you and the rest of your team, even if the goal posts tend to move a few inches due to changing daily tasks and priorities. In any industry sector, investing in the right tools for the job is the aim of the game and choosing software that supports collaboration will help you and the rest of your team keep things on track.