Key Strategies for Remote Working

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Updated March 23, 2023

You’re reading an excerpt of The Holloway Guide to Remote Work, a book by Katie Wilde, Juan Pablo Buriticá, and over 50 other contributors. It is the most comprehensive resource on building, managing, and adapting to working with distributed teams. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, 800 links and references, a library of tools for remote-friendly work, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

If you want to set yourself up for success in remote working, there are several approaches or frameworks you can use that will get you off to an excellent start. We cover each of these approaches briefly below, and we’ve linked to relevant sections to help you put them into practice.

Establishing a Routine

The traditional office environment provides an important structure for employees—when you’re expected to be at work, where you work from, built-in connections with peers and managers, and more. One of the biggest surprises for new remote workers is how this structure almost completely disappears once they’re not in the office anymore. The way that you communicate, receive, and share information becomes one step removed, and it’s just that little bit more difficult to get attention from others.

This isn’t just about scheduling your routine either—it’s important to dissociate a routine from the notion of time. Having a remote work routine doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work a typical 9–5 schedule, just from home instead of in an office (though for some people, this is just what they want!). But it does require that you understand how and when you’re most productive, whether or not you will need to be available to colleagues (for a standup or planning meeting, for example), and how you can work effectively no matter where you are.

We cover having a good routine in Setting and Keeping A Daily Routine.

Being Accountable

If it doesn’t persist, it doesn’t exist.Luke Thomas, founder, Friday*

Some employers might think that remote workers are less accountable. You don’t have supervisors peering over your shoulder, and the lack of a physical presence can drive the perception that you’re not really “at work.”

Trust is a fundamental necessity in high-functioning remote teams, and accountability fosters trust. It’s essential that your team and manager trust that you’ll get your work done, and that you’re all focused on the same outcomes.

Find more on accountability in Being Accountable and Responsive.

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Prioritizing Your Health

Being a remote worker requires that you invest extra time and effort in your own success. For many remote workers, there’s simply less feedback and recognition from peers and supervisors. This can be amplified if you run into problems, especially if you’re isolated or feeling disconnected.

Unless you speak up, it’s not guaranteed that others will notice—they’re simply too focused on their own work. That means it is important that you be proactive and make changes yourself to improve your working life, or ask for help if you need it.

See Personal Health for more on managing both your physical and mental health while working remotely.

Owning Your Environment

Successful remote work isn’t just about your attitude, approach, and skills—there’s plenty you can do in your day-to-day environment that will help you stay on track. Whether it’s the location of your home office or the hardware and software you choose to use, building a strong foundation and structure will help you flourish.

Get the nuts and bolts in Setting Up Your Remote Office.

Skills for Successful Remote Work22 minutes, 50 links

As remote workers we have to completely self-organize and make sure we motivate ourselves to keep going. Getting a salary alone is not enough of a motivator to do so, especially if your team does not value and work on interpersonal connection. You need to understand how stress affects you, how to deal with loneliness, how to keep yourself motivated, without the helpful structure and external accountability of going to an office.Stephan Dohrn, remote working expert and coach*

Every remote-work role has unique, job-specific requirements and skill sets, but there are more general skills that are helpful in any remote employment role.

Communication for Remote Workers

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