Having the flexibility to work from home on a regular basis, or as and when needed – such as in the midst of a Coronavirus pandemic, certainly has its advantages.

But for some professionals, it’s a completely new concept that has never been tried and tested – how can you best collaborate with colleagues and clients? How do you stay visible and keep up productivity?

If your company is planning on implementing home working contingencies, here are a few remote working tips to help you get the most out of your new working environment.

Access to Hardware, Software, and Data

Hardware and Internet Requirements

Before you start working at home, you need the right hardware in place. Do you have a company laptop, a company desktop or a home computer (i.e. personal computer) that is appropriate for home use? Connect with your IT department and make sure that you have the right hardware to get started.

Next, think about your internet service. Working remotely requires reliable internet. A wired connection is preferential, but a decent wireless connection can also work. Although common in the USA, keep in mind that not all plans provide unlimited data, so that could be a challenge with the large datasets your team may often work with.

With a home internet service, consider bandwidth – both up and down speeds (Autodesk recommends symmetrical 25 Mbps), and find out if you have data caps and what the overage rates are.

Stay Visible And Over Communicate

Next up on our list of working from home tips – visibility and communication.

One of my favorite tools that I frequently use when working remotely is Slack – an instant communication tool that helps keep teams connected. It’s the first thing that I open and check when I power up my laptop each morning.

Slack: A Communication Tool for Teams
Often used by both on-site and off-site employees, tools like Slack can help to quickly communicate company-wide messages via dedicated announcement channels and provide a place for teams to connect and keep projects moving with messaging streams that eliminate the need for endless email threads.

The instant messaging functionality means that you can get fast answers to your questions, either via private one-to-one or group messages.

And with a variety of status options, it’s easy to stay visible and share your availability with colleagues – whether you’re at your desk, on a meeting, or even out sick or on vacation.

When working remotely, it’s important to stay visible and over-communicate. Those SofDev conversations that happen when you see a colleague in the office or coming out of a meeting aren’t as common when you work from home, so it’s a good idea to pro-actively use tools such as instant messaging to keep collaboration channels open and to feel better connected with your teams.

Slack offers a lot of great advice for getting the most out of Slack as a remote worker – check out their tips: Your Guide to Working Remotely in Slack.

Use Tools to keep Collaborating with Colleagues and Clients

With team members and clients based afar, there will be times when you need to connect and collaborate virtually, and to do this, you’ll need to have the right tools in place.

Online Video Meetings

Video meetings offer an affordable way for companies of all sizes to meet online and are particularly popular when travel is not possible.

With the aid of screen sharing, you can share whatever is on your screen – so it’s still possible to walk colleagues and clients through your design concepts and deliver a presentation.

It’s also possible to record meetings and share that recording with non-attendees. Meeting notes can even be transcribed automatically by some meeting tools, helping everyone keep track of key decisions and action items.

If you plan on using a webcam, then be mindful of how your background would appear – you may be working from home, but you still want to look professional. Alternatively, you could look into Microsoft Teams whose meeting tool automatically blurs your background for you.

Project Management Solutions

Another collaboration tool worth exploring is project management software. Particularly useful when working as part of a distributed team on small or complex projects – project management tools provide excellent visibility into open and completed tasks and help teams hit their deadlines and reach their goals.

Cloud-Based Documents

Cloud-based collaboration tools such as Google Docs, are ideal for when you want others to view, edit and comment on your documents simultaneously.

Simple to create your document and share it with your teammates. You can get a shareable link, or email your document directly from the Google Doc itself. Make sure that you enable editing rights to allow others to make edits. Click: Share > Advanced > Change > On – Anyone with the link > Access: Anyone ‘Can edit’:

Google Docs: How to Enable Editing Rights

Still Dress for Work

Although we’re in the comfort of our own homes and it may be tempting to dress in sweats or stay in our PJs, studies have shown that what we wear influences how we act.

Getting dressed for work immediately sets you’re in ‘work-mode’, inspires abstract thinking and gives you a feeling of competency which can help boost your working day.

Not to mention that if you’re invited to an unplanned last-minute video meeting, you’ll look and feel more professional if you’re dressed for work, rather than home.

Health is Wealth

Most of us have probably heard that sitting at a desk for extended periods is not great for you.

A desk that offers both seated and standing options are ideal for both home and office use. But if you don’t have one, you’ll need to build in regular breaks and raise your screen to prevent discomfort.

If you are using a laptop and have a spare keyboard or can bring your keyboard home from the office, raise your laptop and connect your keyboard so that your eyes are in line with the top of the screen. This is far better for your neck.

Another great thing to do when working from home is to deliberately use a small glass of water so that you have to regularly get up to re-fill it. Your back and legs appreciate the short walk to the kitchen, and your eyes are also thankful for a break from your screen.

One final piece of advice is to eat lunch away from your desk and even slip in a quick walk if you can. This gives your brain the chance to be distracted, which can lead to greater creativity, it helps you rack up your steps for the day, and it also keeps your work area crumb-free, with fewer germs!

Here are a few additional tips that apply to both office and remote workers from Lifehack: How You Can Stay Healthy Even Though You Sit At A Desk All Day

Create the right Working Environment

Lastly, if you’re working from home, try to find the best place to work that will be comfortable, practical, yet quiet enough for you to be able to concentrate.

If you miss the buzz of the office and are finding it strange working in a quieter environment, don’t be tempted to turn on the TV – it will more than likely distract you.

Instead, choose instrumental music or songs that are familiar to you – YouTube offers an enormous number of classical tracks that can provide calming background music that may even stimulate your creativity and productivity.