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How to be a successful remote employee

A man works on a laptop at home.

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended daily routines. And many people have been working from home to help limit the outbreak's spread.

If you're still adjusting to telecommuting, these tips can help keep you productive, positive and part of the team:

1. Set up a dedicated workspace. You might have to improvise with a folding table or a small desk in your bedroom. But it's worth it. A home office can help you stay organized. And it's a physical reminder—for you and anybody else at home—that you're on the clock.

2. Get out of your pajamas. Staying in them might seem like a perk of telecommuting. But one way to stay disciplined is to dress as though you were going out. Keeping it casual is fine, but showering and dressing in a clean shirt and jeans can help put you in the mindset for work.

3. Keep regular work hours. Even if your employer doesn't insist on this, sticking to your normal schedule can help you stay on track. So show up at your home office as though you were at work—and call it quits at the usual time too. Working at home can make it hard to switch off professionally. But we all need a healthy work-life balance.

4. Take breaks. Frequent, short breaks are a productivity booster. They help clear your mind. And if you stand up and stretch or take a quick walk around the block, they have physical benefits too.

5. Dial down distractions. Commit to not doing things you wouldn't normally do at work (such as watching TV or doing household chores) except during breaks and after hours.

6. Be available. Share your work schedule with your boss and co-workers, especially if it's a departure from the norm. Stay in touch with—and promptly respond to—emails, instant messaging, phone calls, etc.

7. Mind your virtual etiquette. During video chats and conference calls, find a quiet place—free of loud background noises—to join in. When not speaking, remember to mute your microphone. And don't email or multitask. Give the meeting your full attention.

Reviewed 4/30/2020


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