Are You Actually Productive When Working Remotely?

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I have worked remotely since I launched my career out of journalism school, working in editorial and marketing strategy roles with big brands across tech and media. Remote work is growing in popularity, and spans a wide range of demographics. From the independent solopreneur to the employees of global corporations.

Telecommuting grew 79% between 2005 and 2012, and makes up 2.6% of the American workforce, or 3.2 million workers. If you’re eager to join the tribe of un-tethered productivity leaders, here are seven tips to be successful at working independently:

For the independent Solopreneur

Create a space you love and minimize distractions:
Running a successful business requires you to focus on top priorities that will push business forward. Make sure that your remote workspace is designed to allow you to do just that. If you’re bootstrapped, you may be working out of whatever space is available in your home. Not a problem – but do set the ground rules for a no-distraction zone. While you’re at your craft, you are on the clock.

Get out of the remote studio and connect with your tribe.
A lean team of one can be isolating. Networking is an essential part of building connections, relationships, and ultimately growing your business. But, don’t fall into the networking trap of simply selling what you do. Seek out communities in your industry that host events, speaker series, and other workshops. A fresh perspective and new insight can make all the difference between inspiring work or fizzling out over time.

For the remote employee

Use virtual communication tools to your advantage.
Use the right tools for the right task. If you’re presenting a new idea or managing a project with multiple stakeholders, it might make sense to host a video conference while you walkthrough your pitch.

Do you need to brief a team member on a project due by end of the day? Pick up the phone and make a call instead of instant messaging back and forth. People are today seem to be afraid to pick up the phone and dial someone, but when you do, both sides give full levels of attention which avoid miscommunication.

For the remote manager

Your process, not technology, is the key to productivity
Your job as a manager is to keep your team motivated, in-sync, and productive. Technology can help you get there, but it is the process you put in place that means the most. Encourage key members to hold informal meetings (think of it as a hybrid coffee chat and Skype call). These interactions replicate the office watercooler and can facilitate course corrections when required.

You may also want to ensure project timelines are met, status updates are provided, and objectives are clear to all team members. Teams that work remotely need to take a few extra steps to be on the same page. Ultimately, the most successful managers get the job done with explicit, singular-focused processes in place that others can adopt into their own work styles and tactics.

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