2022 was a year of grappling with hybrid, remote working and flexibility in organisations. There was the ongoing debate over what kind of flexible work to offer, the regular polls on what days you work at home vs the office, and whether four-day weeks were to become the new norm.
So what does 2023 have in store and what can we learn from the past year of working at home or in a hybrid manner? How can we further improve on our setup and ensure we are integrating work into our lives in the most healthy and productive way?
This roundup is a selection of key work from home and remote work tips we have talked about from different issues of The Homeworker magazine. It also looks at some of the ideas we have discussed around work trends in the future.
One thing we know is that remote working and hybrid working are sticking around, and working from home is becoming more synonymous with work from anywhere.
These are some handy pointers if you’re wanting to establish new habits and routines and a better set up, ready to get off to a positive start in the New Year. In no order of importance, here are some work from home and remote work tips to see you through 2023.
Self management when working from home
Something freelancers and small business owners know well is that when you are working with more autonomy, you also have more responsibility for yourself. That is more responsibility for your time management, your health, and your environment.
Making sure you create simple, sustainable routines that help you stay healthy, productive, and focused is really important.
In an interview with remote work expert, Rowena Hennigan, she highlights how “the important piece is the action, the self-adjustment, and the accountability.” We need to hold ourselves accountable to keep ourselves from burning out.
With so many demands and distractions in modern life, conserving and sustaining our energy is crucial to being able to stay productive. “…Our energy can be very quickly drained. That results in our inability to get stuff done, even the simplest things; when we’re demotivated, when we’re uninspired, low on energy, just exhausted,” says award winning life coach and author of Energize Simon Alexander-Ong, in an interview on designing your day for The Homeworker (volume 4.)
From simply keeping water at your desk to regularly decluttering your workspace, blocking your time and scheduling social meet-ups, self-management is a skill that grows with increased self-awareness.
Being proactive about your mental health
One of the best ways we can manage ourselves and take responsibility is with our mental health. In volume 4 of The Homeworker print magazine and our Proactive digital issue, clinical psychologist Dr Stephanie Fitzgerald encourages us to create a mental health plan. This helps us to spot triggers and warning signs of any mental health wobbles that can help lead to early intervention and prevention.
She says that while we can’t have complete control over our mood, we do have more control than we think. Write down your plan, make a list. What can you do, who can you talk to, where can you go?
Having a plan in place that means we adjust or tweak small things in our day when we feel stress, anxiety or depression may be creeping up, allows us to stay on top of our mental wellbeing. This is crucial in a world where mental health services are under unprecedented demand and where we need to stay mentally well in order to thrive and perform.
The importance of purpose
When it comes to working well, collectively as a team, or individually, we all need to feel connected to a purpose. It is what drives motivation, unites a team, and, according to executive coach, Brad Reed, improves our cognitive abilities.
In an article on the power of purpose in volume 3 of the print magazine, Reed explains how those with a strong purpose in life have better recall and decision-making abilities as well as become more resilient to stress factors.
Whether as an individual working alone or as part of a team working in a hybrid manner, having a purpose is what gives work meaning and that in itself is more motivating.
Lived vision and values
As with having a defined purpose, when we work in alignment with our values, it becomes easier to overcome obstacles and sustain momentum through challenging times.
This applies whether we are self-employed or a remote employee.
Research by Gartner found employees are increasingly seeking organisations that demonstrate lived values and have their values as a backbone to their work and culture. Since the pandemic, 65% were questioning what place work has in their lives. This has been just one of the factors in recent workplace changes such as The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting.
In volume 4 of the print magazine, NLP master practitioner, Tasha Thor-Straten explains the significance of living by your values and how important it is to do work that reinforces those values and brings us true fulfilment.
Outcome over hours
If there is one phrase that is only likely to be spoken about more as the conversation around work lives and styles intensifies, it is ‘outcome-based working’. Along with more flexible working options and remote working, what future of work experts such as Richard Skellett envision is a more autonomous, dispersed workforce that is paid on delivering outcomes rather than the hours sat at a desk.
In an interview on the future of work, Skellett talks about a world of ‘outsourced assets’ working in alignment with their values and who have the specialist skills to deliver the specific needs of an organisation.
Taking this outcome-based approach can ultimately address issues around workloads and give clarity on the tasks involved, which are all essential to successfully work from anywhere and improve the wellbeing of workers.
Making better use of our space at home
For people working hybrid or fully from home, finding that dedicated space to work from can be one of the biggest obstacles to a productive day. Last year saw more of us looking to maximise the versatility of our space at home according to interior designer, Steve Hird of Edward Thomas Interiors.
In The Design Issue of The Homeworker he shared some work from home and remote work tips for creating a suitable workspace. These included repurposing the ‘dead space’ in our homes that may have once housed a chair or shelving unit but could become a functional work area.
Another trend in how we utilise our space at home, is creating different zones for different tasks. As our homes increasingly serve multi purposes, Hird says we want to ensure our rooms are adaptable as well as giving us as much functionality for our money as possible.
Offices are not just for work
Video games and pool tables in breakout spaces, hi-tech Zoom rooms, laundry services, gyms, organic coffee, and biophilic design are just a few of the things mentioned by experts when we spoke to them about what today’s office needs to look like.
Major tech firms Google, Meta, and Salesforce have recently announced they are downsizing their office space in Europe. With the rise of working from home, many organisations are realising that offices are rarely at full capacity. While there is still an argument to maintain some office footprint, those spaces are no longer just about work.
Looking at what the office needs to provide, workplace consultant Nick Cannons told The Homeworker “The homeworker is the new competitor.”
The modern office is a social space, a collaborative space, and needs to offer more than the comforts of home. As well as having adequate equipment to cope with a hybrid workforce, it needs to be a place that is worth commuting for. Workplace wellbeing psychologist Lee Chambers said that the office needs to become more adaptable with the ability for hyper personalisation to cater for individual needs.
Organisations also need to focus on inclusivity and diversity as well as incorporate more thought into the wellbeing of their workers.
We need to work on trust and leadership
One of the biggest barriers of successful remote working is trust.
Where there is trust, there is a sense of safety. It creates the conditions for more open communication and sharing of ideas, which in turn leads to increased innovation.
Allowing an employee to work more effectively without micromanagement means an individual has more autonomy and freedom, a crucial component of intrinsic motivation, as Daniel Pink talks about in his book Drive.
Leadership styles need to adapt for remote working to become more widely adopted. “We need nurturing, we need trust, we need connection with someone to understand,” says performance coach and bestselling author Melissa Curran, who spoke with us for The Relationships issue of The Homeworker magazine. She shared how leaders need to unite remote workers behind a common goal and take the time to get to know their individual team members so they can support and challenge them appropriately.
She believes along with trust, leaders need to become more empathetic and develop closer meaningful relationships with their employees, something that has been shown to lead to better retention. A report by McKinsey showed a good relationship with management was one of the strongest factors in employee satisfaction.
Work from home and remote communication
There is a reason communication is one of The Homeworker’s key pillars for successful remote working. When we communicate in the right way, we get our message across clearly, there is less frustration on all sides, there is less time wasted, and we improve our productivity. When communication doesn’t work well, there is a breakdown of trust and the ripple effect can be detrimental across all aspects of a business.
For individual homeworkers, communication needs to take into account the way we communicate with our family members and ourselves. The internal messages we have on repeat can transform our mindset so we need to ensure they are positive and that we regularly check in with ourselves. What we say (to ourselves) and the language we use has a very powerful effect on how we feel, how we behave and the experiences we then have.
For remote workers, asynchronous communication is a fundamental tenet of truly flexible working. It helps to avoid al lot of time wasting, unnecessary meetings, and aids an individual’s freedom and productivity.
We need to look at what we are communicating, who to, in what way, and when. Do these all make sense in order to achieve the results we want?
Expert insights and actionable ideas to help you work, live, and perform in a happy, healthy, and fulfilling way.
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About the author
Louise is an award-winning journalist and speaker who focuses on working from home, remote work and wellbeing. She is the founder of The Homeworker, which is dedicated to helping you thrive when you work from home. The Homeworker publishes articles that are designed to keep you healthy, happy, fulfilled, and more productive in work and life.