Remote work is becoming so valuable to prospective employees that the second-most searched word on HubSpot's career page is "remote."
Clearly, people love the idea of working from home or a location outside the office. And this makes sense. Have you ever wanted to work for a far-away company you couldn't move to? Or have you ever wanted to cut a tough commute out of your schedule to spend more time with family? These are just a few great reasons why people might want to work remote.
If you're an employer concerned about how offering remote work as an option to employees could impact productivity,, a number of studies have concluded that remote work can be incredibly effective at increasing productivity.
A 2016 survey found that 91% of participants said they get more work done when working from home. Many of this study's participants also said they felt happier at their job when they worked remote as opposed to in-office.
Later, in 2019, a two-year Stanford University study found that remote employees can boost a company's productivity.
As the remote workforce has grown, HubSpot has embraced the work style. In fact, our Marketing team recently held a remote quarterly meeting. Instead of booking a large conference room, all HubSpot marketing employees -- even those who worked in-office -- simply logged on to the video call from remote locations. At the end of the virtual meeting, we heard from a small group of remote HubSpot marketers about their experiences with working out of the office.
Although this all seems pretty promising way to work, you might still be thinking, "Remote work sounds great, but is it possible for managers or leaders?"
At HubSpot, the answer is yes. In fact, our blogging team alone has six fully remote members, including two people managers from across the United States.
Sounds great, right?
If and when you transition to your first semi or fully remote job, you might be excited about your role's helpful out-of-office location. But, you might also have concerns like, "How will I get visibility in my company?" or "Will I miss important meetings or be out of the loop?"
To help answer some of your burning work-from-home questions, I spoke with a handful of remote HubSpot employees from different departments to get their eight most valuable tips.
8 Tips for Working Remote
- Determine if remote work is right for you.
- Schedule meetings and work hours in chunks.
- Over-communicate with everyone.
- Plan virtual coffee chats with colleagues.
- Create an efficient home-working space.
- Work outside of your house.
- Prepare for video calls.
- Don't forget to take breaks.
1. Determine if remote work is right for you.
For some people, working remote on a full-time basis feels ideal and most productive. However, some people prefer having meetings in person in the office during the week with only one or two full remote days. And, lastly, others might feel like they get the best work done in an office.
Everyone is different, so if you think you'd like to work remote, testing out all three of the work styles noted above can be a helpful way to make a decision about where you'd like your role to be on a daily basis.
At HubSpot's internal quarterly marketing meeting, which I mentioned above, those who spoke on the remote panel suggested that employees should test a few work-from-home schedules if they think this working style is right for them. These panelists also suggested that it can be helpful to start with one remote day a week and then expand to two or three days as you get used to the new environment.
2. Schedule meetings and work hours in chunks.
When you're remote, it's easy to get distracted by family, friends, errands, or other aspects of your day-to-day life. Working in your own house might cause distractions as you think of chores or tasks you need to do related to your home. Meanwhile, prepping for multiple scattered work calls might distract you from completing bigger projects that require heads-down attention.
To avoid distractions from life or your other duties, establish a solid schedule when you start your remote position.
According to Rebecca White, a California-based junior staff writer for the HubSpot Blog, planning and sticking to a firm schedule can be incredibly important if you're transitioning into a remote position for the first time.
“Set up a schedule and routine for yourself as quickly as you can. This means setting boundaries for what you do during the day," says White.
White explains that setting schedule boundaries can involve designating offline times when you aren't working. Since you might be working during or outside of your office's standard hours, you could also set time blocks for yourself to be online when your team is in office.
During work hours, White warns that a schedule with vague boundaries can cause you to end up working at odd hours.
"It’s easy to fall into the trap of getting things done during the day, but still feeling like you’ve wasted your time and now need to work later in the evening," White explains. "Setting boundaries for yourself and having a routine schedule will help avoid those pitfalls.”
Scott Tousley, a California-based senior team lead on thef user acquisition team, echoed this sentiment, saying he also schedules his entire workday, as well as breaks, in large blocks.
Tousley says that his first work chunk occurs from 7 a.m. to noon. Then, he takes a break from noon to 2 p.m. followed by his last work block from 2 to 7 p.m.
Many of the other remote employees we talked to also encouraged scheduling multiple meetings within the same day or in dedicated blocks of time.
For example, you could consider dedicating the first few days of the week to meetings and smaller tasks. Then, use the meetingless days to focus on the bigger projects.
“If you can, group all your meetings so they happen over the course of two or three days. Leave a couple of days wide open to get that heads-down, max-effort work done," says Allie Decker, a content writerbased in Chicago.
Scheduling meetings all together will not only prevent you from having to stop working on a big project for a 30-minute call, but it will also allow you to streamline the time you spend preparing for meetings.
Decker adds, "You can also use these [meetingless] days to get out of the house, change up your workspace, and not have to worry about taking video or phone calls in loud public spots.”
Scheduling a workday when you can't be in the office can be tricky. While you might be able to schedule your own meetings on specific days, your in-office or remote coworkers in another time zone might need to meet at a time that doesn't always work for you. While you should make exceptions for important meetings, you’ll still want to try your best to stick to a regular week-to-week schedule and communicate your working hours with your team.
If your office has a calendar system where any of your colleagues can see your schedule and book time with you, check with your manager to see if it's okay to schedule a block of time that says something like, "Do Not Book," "Writing time," or "Email me to book meetings during this time." With notes explaining why you’re unavailable for meetings on your calendar, colleagues will be able to see that this time is dedicated to bigger projects and tasks.
3. Over-communicate with everyone.
When you're remote, your colleagues in another time zone might unknowingly invite you to video calls at a late hour that doesn't work for you. Or, even if you are in the same time zone, you might find that there are consistent miscommunications happening because you sent an email rather than having a face-to-face conversation about what you wanted to achieve from a team project.
To avoid confusion points between you and your in-office team, err on the side of over-communicating. Be sure to regularly check in with colleagues on phone calls, during video chats, or through your office's direct messaging system.
"Over-communicate everything," says Christina Perricone, a manager on the blogging teambased in Atlanta.
"Since people can’t stop by your desk to clear up misunderstandings, it’s important to explain everything with thorough detail and share more information than you think is necessary," Perricone adds.
While you should still be polite and professional, be transparent and firm about your schedule, your current list of tasks, your bandwidth, and your expectations of other team members so that your colleagues and managers know what you're up to and what you need from them.
4. Plan virtual coffee chats with colleagues.
When you work outside of the office, it can be hard to get that valuable visibility that could move your career forward. Because your team will be bonding during informal office chats, outings, lunches, coffees, or events that you won't be able to attend, it's important to come up with creative ways to get to know your colleagues and improve key relationships with team managers.
“As a remote employee, it’s easy to be out of sight and out of mind," says Henry Franco, an Illinois-based social media manager. "Setting up regular one-on-one meetings with every member of your team on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis is a great way to stay connected.”
Perricone ads, "Capitalize on any opportunity to connect with colleagues -- use team meetings, one-on-one meetings, or impromptu video calls to work through problems."
"You want to use every opportunity to make up for the lack of in-office interactions that typically build rapport," Perricone explains.
On the Blog team, one great one-on-one strategy we use to catch up with coworkers is called "virtual coffee." During these virtual coffee chats, you schedule a time to simply get to know your remote or in-office colleagues over coffee or lunch, without a set agenda.
You don't necessarily have to use the virtual coffee time to talk about work. Instead, you could use that time to learn more about your coworkers or managers. Building these relationships can help you create more meaningful relationships with colleagues who are farther away. These chats will also help you learn more about how your team works together in the office.
5. Create an efficient working space.
Working in your bed or kitchen could make you want to sleep, cook, or clean when you're on the clock. Meanwhile, a noisy space in your home might open you up to distractions. If you want to get serious about working from home, you'll ideally want to have an effective office or quiet workspace that has a designated work surface, great lighting, internet, and limited distraction points.
"Try to designate a space in your home exclusively for work," says Perricone. "Taking calls from your bed or writing memos in front of your TV likely won't be very effective. You need a space that allows you to focus and be productive. That way, you can keep your work and home life as separate as possible."
As Perricone mentions, when you're working from your own home, the line between work life and your personal life can get blurry. To avoid bringing your work stress into your personal life, do your work in one isolated location of your house so that you can mentally and physically walk away from your job when you're off the clock.
"Avoid working from your bedroom or living room because there are more distractions there and it’s hard to draw a firm line between work and relaxation," Franco explains. "If you use an office, it’s much easier to close the door at the end of the workday and transition into another mindset.”
6. Work outside of your house.
Sometimes, your house can still be the most distracting place to work, even if you've created a solid workspace.
On top of the distracting environment, associating your home with work all the time might not be so great for your mental health. For example, a recent Buffer survey found that 22% of remote employees have trouble tuning out at the end of the workday.
Difficulty tuning out of work might mean you miss out on happenings in your personal life or feel stressed about your job or a deadline even when the workday is over.
As Franco mentions in the fifth tip, a home office offers you an opportunity to leave your work behind at the end of the day. But, if you don't have a home office, it might be hard to escape looking at your computer or answering emails at night when you should be focused on your personal life.
If you've tested out a number of home workspaces and find that your house or apartment isn't a great place for getting tasks done, consider going to another location -- like a coffee shop, library, or shared working space.
"I work from home primarily, but sometimes I need a change of scenery to boost productivity or simply chat with other humans," says Decker.
Decker notes that finding the best workspaces can be a process, so you'll need to do a bit of trial and error testing.
"Don’t beat yourself up if the first few locations aren’t a perfect fit. Over time, you’ll find your favorites," Decker says, adding, "Bonus points if you work regularly at a coffee shop and you’re recognized by the baristas!”
7. Prepare for video calls.
As a remote employee, regular video chats will most likely be part of your role. So, make sure your working space is properly lit and offers a professional, non-distracting background.
While it might be tempting to keep your camera off and avoid showing your surroundings to your team, Perricone says that attending a video call with the camera turned on is important for interpersonal communication and office visibility.
"Turn on the video during your calls," Perricone advises. "Ninety-three percent of communication is non-verbal. Being remote puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to reading facial expressions and body language during meetings. Video calls mitigate the disconnect that can arise from not being in-person."
8. Don't forget to take breaks.
At a normal nine-to-five job in an office, you'll usually take one or two breaks throughout the day as well as lunch. But, when you're at home and focused on a big project, time can slip away from you and you might forget to take a much-needed breather. That's why you might want to schedule breaks on your calendar.
"Since you miss out on the social cues to head out for lunch or end the workday that are inherent in in-office settings, you have to create them," says Perricone. "Set calendar appointments for lunch or a walk or a midday workout. Otherwise, you might find yourself sitting in front of your computer for 10+ hours a day."
When you do take breaks, it can be helpful to do something relaxing but still productive, like going out to lunch or taking a nice walk outside.
Tyler Littwin, HubSpot's Art Director, echoed Perricone's thoughts on scheduling break times and encourages remote workers to get some fresh air during the workday.
"Without coworkers there to grab lunch or coffee breaks with, it’s easy to stay in one place for far too long. In my humble opinion, walks are an essential part of keeping your sanity and improving your productivity. Even 15 to 20 minutes is enough of a recharge,” says Littwin.
Establishing a Healthy Remote Routine
As my remote colleagues noted continuously, the key to successful remote work is establishing a routine that allows you to effectively complete different tasks while allowing you to still keep work and home life separate -- even when you literally have to bring work home with you.
As you begin working from home, or test out a partially remote lifestyle, be sure to nail down your work and life-related schedules and set vital boundaries for yourself and your team. These strategies will keep your workdays productive and could help your remote career thrive successfully.
Want to learn more about what it takes to be a great remote employee? We recently published a post about research reveals five more researched-based tips for a successful remote career.
Originally published Oct 15, 2019 7:00:00 AM, updated April 09 2020