9 things the most successful remote workers always do

Every remote worker faces unique challenges, whether it’s a distraction that’s particularly hard to avoid or a task that’s difficult to complete away from the office. However, by developing a few good habits and following some key suggestions, remote workers can overcome those obstacles and find success as members of virtual teams.

9 Things the Most Successful Remote Workers Do

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

When you’re not in the same office as your boss and teammates, you need to take your communication skills to the next level. Use email, phone calls, video calls, online chat software, and whatever other tools you have at your disposal. Ask when and how different people want to hear from you, and follow those preferences. Be prepared to over-communicate to make sure you and your team members are collaborating effectively and your manager knows what you’re doing. It’s impossible to emphasize this enough, but if you want to succeed at working from home, you absolutely must focus time and energy on communication.

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2. Clarify expectations.

This starts by having frequent and frank conversations with your boss and coworkers, making sure you know what they expect you to accomplish and when. Continue to manage expectations as you proceed with projects and tasks, providing updates and asking for clarification. When you’ve met your deadline, ask for feedback to make sure you did what you needed to do. This will ensure that you and your teammates are on the same page and help you build trust.

3. Set a schedule and stick to it.

Decide what your regular work hours will be and inform your boss, colleagues, and family of your schedule. Then do all you can to follow it. Your coworkers need to know when you’ll be available for work tasks and meetings, and your family members need to know when you will not be available to them. Creating this routine is good for everyone.

4. Create a dedicated home office space.

“When you set up a space that is specifically for your work and nothing else, it is a lot easier to get your work done because you don’t have a lot of distractions,” says an article from Glassdoor. “Find a room in your home that is not used for other purposes, and turn that into your office. Of course, you always have the freedom to switch it up once in a while, and create a new and different workspace to keep you from becoming bored.”

5. Use task lists and other time management tools.

With no manager hovering over your shoulder, asking for updates, you may find it easy to get distracted or to spend too long on a particular task or project. Create and use daily task lists, noting what you hope to accomplish and how long it should take. Seek out other time management tools, as necessary, to keep you on track and ensure that you meet your deadlines.

6. Take breaks.

Without the rhythm of an office around you, it’s easy to get in a groove and forget to take a lunch break or stretch your legs with a quick walk. That may seem like a good way to enhance your productivity, but in reality, it’s a perfect recipe for burnout. If necessary, set an alarm to remind you to take occasional breaks. You’ll find this helps you focus and keeps you refreshed so you can be the most effective and efficient worker possible.

7. Exercise regularly.

This follows along with taking breaks. If you’re working from home, you may get in the habit of starting the day’s tasks as soon as you roll out of bed in the morning, foregoing a trip to the gym. “Whether you go for a short walk each day in your lunch break or have (a) yoga session…before you start the daily grind, keeping a regular exercise schedule will help you to combat the sedentary lifestyle (and mindset) that remote work often brings,” says an article from Process Street.

8. Create a strong support system.

Working remotely can lead to loneliness and isolation, so take steps to build a solid network of friends and family members. “Being part of a community, even a virtual one, helps chip away at isolation and reduces anxiety,” says an article from Forbes. “Another way to boost camaraderie is to occasionally work out of a coffee shop, local co-working space, or another hotspot where remote employees like to hang out. You’ll meet like-minded people and feel like you’re part of the crowd, even though you’ll all be working on assignments for different companies.”

9. Plan occasional in-person meetings with team members.

While communication technology will help you build strong virtual bonds, it can’t replace face-to-face conversations. “Whether once a month, quarter, or half-year, it’s useful to have a regular cadence of visitation with your team,” says an article from Bonusly. “In this way, everyone knows what to expect, and certain activities can be planned during your visit. If remote workers are in the minority, meeting in the office is usually the best setting. If you have a fully remote team, an offsite retreat is a great solution.”

Remember that, on some days, your plans will fall through, and you might not be able to exercise or stick to your schedule. That’s completely OK. Be flexible, adapt to circumstances, and keep trying to develop good habits like these. Doing so should help you become a successful, productive remote worker while also building a balanced life.

This article originally appeared on FlexJobs.

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