How to Improve Your Daily Workflow When Working Remotely

November 7th, 2017

remote work

By Adam Henshall, 10x Guest Writer

Adam Henshall writes on organizational processes for Process Street and is a co-founder of the language learning application Idyoma.

Working remotely presents a host of both opportunities and challenges.

Those of us used to the buzz of a busy office or the gaze of a manager over our shoulders can suddenly feel a little out of place when working in a remote setup.

Whether you’re freelancing, starting your own company, or just part of a dispersed team, you need tactics to keep your productivity high and your workflow on track.

In this post, we’ll take a look at a few key areas to consider improving if you’re going to reach your peak as a remote worker:

  • How to keep focused
  • Why you should move communication away from email
  • The importance of transparent planning

How to keep focused

Working remotely presents you with a golden opportunity to do your best work.

You’re free to craft a working environment tailored from floor to ceiling to your specific needs. However, this also comes with the downside of taking away some of the classic systems which have helped you work in the past.

Gone is the morning commute. Gone is the workplace socializing. Gone is the stuffy professionalism of the office.

The key problem I found at the beginning was that when I was efficient I was hyper-efficient and when I was distracted it was hard for me to get back on task.

Here are three things to consider in improving your environment for focus:

  1. Live well – Sleep enough and eat healthy. I have a carb-filled chorizo stew in my belly, and though my cholesterol won’t thank me, my concentration does.
  2. Plan your time – I spend the first little segment of my day planning my tasks and prioritizing them to boost my efficiency.
  3. Shape your space – I have two workspaces. One is my office at home and one is in a co-working space in the city center. Which one I choose to work in depends on what work I need to get done.

Why you should move communication away from email

Email is the bane of my life.

Some may say that is a trivial concern, but they’ve clearly never done sales.

Working remotely doesn’t mean you can suddenly become a hermit and burrow yourself away to work without human contact.

You need to be able to communicate with your team and doing so effectively will improve your work and improve your collaborative potential too. I’m a big fan of Slack for team communication, though I’m aware some people have a preference for HipChat and other services.

This instant messaging style of communication brings an immediacy to your interactions while avoiding all the spam and added annoyance of email.

More importantly, if you make sure all team communication is done in open Slack channels rather than through direct messages, everyone is able to see your conversations and you’re able to see theirs. This results in a much faster degree of knowledge sharing as everyone remains within the communication loop at all times.

The importance of transparent planning

Which brings us nicely on to the next tip: transparent planning.

If you’re working as a team in an office you should be trying to keep everyone up to date with how your progress is going.

A software development team using an agile methodology like Scrum may employ a whiteboard with post-it notes to track the different user stories they’re working on. This allows anyone to simply glance at the board and immediately have a clear picture of the progression of the project.

This kind of approach helps teams diagnose problems before they arise and creates a clear sense of how small tasks fit into larger processes.

In doing so, teams are more easily able to navigate bottlenecks where one team member is reliant on another team member before work can be completed.

The point is: collaborative planning and project management is hugely effective and should be encouraged. I make sure I update my In Progress tasks as and when I have achieved something or made progress on that task.

Key tools to check out:

  • Trello – Kanban card style task management system which is one of the market leaders and comes with a host of integrations to help you work smarter and harder; shout out to Pomello, the Pomodoro timer integration for Trello.
  • Process Street – for set or recurring tasks, you can document your process in Process Street and then work through it. The checklist system documents your progress and the template overviews can show the progress of every checklist being run.
  • Airtable – a database SaaS product which has incorporated the ability to display items in a Kanban system. This gives you a really powerful way to manage and organize tasks while keeping an easily searchable record of everything.

How do you manage your workflow?

That’s how I manage my workflow.

How do you manage yours?

The first step to improving your workflow is understanding your workflow.

From there, you can diagnose its issues and begin to take the necessary steps to boost that productivity without the need for a company office.

If you like this article, you might enjoy reading The 5 Most Important Components of A Freelancing Contract