The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Remote Employees
As a fully remote company since the start of 2017, we here at Retention.com know our way around remote work. We thought it might be interesting to share how our remote employees set themselves up for success.
The information we got back from our tream was illuminating. There are some things that, without knowing it, we all do to ensure that our work (and social) lives are healthy and successful. We also take some pretty varied approaches to handling certain challenges and staying motivated.
Without further ado, here’s what we found.
1. Physical Activity.
The overwhelming, common theme that everyone in the company makes time for regularly is exercise or some kind of physical movement, from swimming to dance to HIIT workouts. Most of us make the time to do it because we know it keeps us healthy and helps us focus during the day.
What We Said:
“Throughout the day I get up and stretch and make sure I spend at least 1/4 of my time standing up so my body doesn’t hate me at the end of the day.”
“If I get lazy with working out (which happens a lot) I start to feel worse and worse after 2 to 3 weeks of not being active enough.”
“I make time for exercise more now than ever because I don’t have to leave the house as much anymore. That means less activity overall for me, like riding my bike to work or taking circus classes every week. So I try to work out 3 to 5 times per week no matter what.”
“I try to start the day doing physical activity. At least 3 times a week I go to run or to the gym at 7am. After that, I feel really good and focused for work.”
Be it classical, metal, or meditative, most of us listen to music during our day. It helps us focus, keeps us happy, and we don’t have to worry about whether or not it bugs anyone else.
What We Said:
“Sometimes I end up working in strange and noisy places. Listening to classical music through my Bose noise cancelling headphones when I’m not in a quiet environment usually is enough to allow me to have the necessary focus to get anything done.”
“Mid-day I will definitely get up and put on music and dance around my apartment a little, shake everything out from sitting at the desk and staring at a computer.”
Most of us have some kind of routine that helps us get into Go Mode for the day. While it seems like escaping the office should mean escaping routine to a certain extent, we all find that maintaining some type of regular habits keep us happier and more productive.
What We Said:
“No matter where I go, I try to keep my morning routine constant. This not only helps me focus during the day, but I believe it’s also substituted psychologically for the peace and consistency that “home” provided for me in years past. For me, this involves running 3 to 4 miles, showering, having a coffee, journaling for 15 to 20 minutes, listening to music, then looking at the list of things that I made for myself to accomplish the night before to see if there is anything that should or shouldn’t be there. Then I attack the list until around noon, break for lunch, take a 20-minute power nap after I eat, and finish the list in the afternoon.”
“I have to wake up every day like I’m actually going to an office. I leave plenty of time to stretch and meditate and fiddle about before sitting down to my desk.”
“It’s really helpful to have an established morning routine before starting the work day. I wake up, shower, clean my desk and room, drink a cup of coffee and if I have time, play a game of League of Legends. This helps me ensure I’m focused and alert before I clock in.”
4. Dedicated Space.
While our initial visions of working remotely definitely looked like sitting on the couch in our PJs all day, the reality is far from Couch Potato City. Whether we’re posted up at a traditional desk or motorcycle-themed coffee shop, a dedicated space for working is something we have all created for ourselves in one way or another.
What We Said:
“I have my personal office 50 meters from my home. Having a dedicated space for work is key; a place in which you can be comfortable and away from interruptions or external noise that are usually in the house.”
“It’s nice to not have to sit at the same desk every day because I’ve chosen to basically travel full time. That being said, I do always seek out a place where I can sit or stand comfortably where there is a power supply for my laptop and a good WiFi connection. Sometimes that ends up being the patio of a beach bar, sometimes it’s just my own kitchen.”
We have yet to find a better mechanism for keeping track of our to-dos and making sure s**t gets done throughout the day. Some of us opt for good, old-fashioned pen and paper while others keep detailed, online documents noting each day’s activity.
What We Said:
“While there are sales-related advantages to having notes of my day-to-day (like understanding what we last spoke about or when I should follow up) the main thing for me is that it helps me stay focused. It’s like I’m micro managing myself and I’m all about keeping myself in check.”
“Checklists have always been critical to my productivity, both before and after we went remote. Every Sunday night I write down what I’m going to get done for the week, and each day at the end of the day I write down what I need to get done the next day.”
6. Motivation Station.
Let’s be honest: sometimes staying motivated can be challenging when you don’t have your team sitting near you all day. So what happens when you just don’t feel like getting anything done at all or start to lose steam? Well, to be completely honest, most of our teammates admitted to not feeling this way that often, if at all. But, when the mood strikes, we all have different ways of
hitting the reset button.
What We Said:
“A recent trick that I’ve discovered that really works for me is watching anything about Elon Musk on YouTube. I find it all so inspiring. To me it’s the equivalent of a writer who has writer’s block reading great work or an artist looking at great art.”
“I try to read some technology posts and news that interests me. Luckily, almost everything I read is related to my work, so I use that to gain momentum.”
“My first step when I’m dealing with a lack of motivation is to reflect on the jobs I’ve had in the past and remind myself how blessed I am to have this kind of opportunity and how epic it is to work with people who are on that same level and you simultaneously get to travel the world with! Second step would be to stand up and stretch, I find if I sit for too long I can get a little lazy and ultimately if I haven’t yet, CAFFEINATE!”
“It seems counterintuitive, but I actually indulge myself a little bit more on those days. If it’s slow and I have time, I’ll play an old movie on Netflix or something while I work. It’s usually something I’ve already seen or can more or less ignore (terrible RomComs are perfect). Or I might not get dressed until noon. I think there’s this notion that if you have a day where you don’t feel like working, there’s something wrong with you. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but if I’m not taking a day off then I will just find little ways to
make myself feel more cozy or relaxed.”
7. Take Advantage.
Part of being a successful remote employee is about taking full advantage of some of the lifestyle benefits you are afforded. Trading in commuting times for gym visits, always being available to receive your Amazon deliveries, or getting to stay home during a blizzard are but a few of the things our team really digs about remote work.
What We Said:
“[I love] lunch break gym sessions! Or lunch break naps! Also, being able to prepare your own food at home. Saves money. And the rolling outta bed thing is pretty sweet too. I LOVE SLEEP.”
“I personally always found it a lot easier for me to do my sales calls without having other co-workers around to distract me or give me the impression that I’m being observed. My close rate went up significantly and my overall level of focus during the day is a lot more consistent.”
“One of the absolute best things about working remotely is getting to spend more time with your pets!”
“I love that we get to go on company retreats and that I can be in New York, New Orleans, or New Guinea while I work. As long as I have internet, I can do my job from anywhere. I treasure the freedom and I can’t imagine ever going back to a traditional office space.”
“No traffic, no noise, no distractions.”
“Flexibility and productivity are amazing. I have nothing tying me down, I love to travel and immerse myself in foreign cultures. The notion that I can do this and have an ongoing project that is developing me professionally is hard for me to believe, even today, after a year-and-a-half. From a productivity standpoint, I can get more done in a morning of remote work than a 10-hour day of running an office. No one ever interrupts me for anything. I absolutely love it.”
What’s the takeaway?
Overall, we have a team of people who are intrinsically motivated to do good work. As a result, we have been lucky enough to create remote lives that allow us to continue to do good work, and work hard, but also take advantage of the benefits that a remote working life affords us. For this, we are grateful.
Are you a remote employee or part of a remote organization? We’d love to hear what you do to make your remote lives as successful as possible – please share in the comments!