Hotjar is a workplace name that's known across the world. Many professionals know them for their product but not many know that they are a fully distributed team. Hotjar has truly been a remote-first team since they began and they've been offering advice and tips on their inner workings for a long time.
With their employees working remotely across the world, they're well aware of what it takes to be an efficient remote worker. In 2017 they compiled a list of tips on how to be productive when working from home and we've picked out the top 9 bits of advice to help anyone that's looking to become a remote worker or is just getting started in their new flexible work life.
1. Create a morning routine
In a traditional office job you spend your morning getting into the headspace of work through the routine of getting dressed and commuting. When you first start working from home, you stop having that morning routine so there's no defined break between waking up and starting work. To help ease the transition from office to home, create a morning routine that gives you time to get your brain ready for work.
2. Structure your work life and home life
Having total freedom to work as you want can be dangerous if you don't yet have self-discipline to not get distracted. You often have a 'things to do at home' list that you get done in the evening or weekends after work but when you're at home for your work day, running those 'quick' errands can be disruptive to a productive day. To not get distracted by these things, it's useful to structure your work and home life. You know the daily tasks that you might do (e.g. drop kids to school, go for your morning run or even having lunch) which you can factor into a time block. After that you assign another time block to work and factor in other tasks you have to do during the rest of the day. This gives you more structure in your day and you have assigned times to run errands or personal tasks so you don't need to think about them until that time comes!
3. Create a productive space
One of the difficulties of working from home is that you're at home! It's easy to feel too comfortable and that homely atmosphere can be a blocker in getting 'into the zone' for work. It's a common issue that many people face when first starting to work remotely. You need to create a space for work that's outside the area of relaxation (where you typically watch tv or go to nap) that's dedicated for working.
4. Find a co-working space or cafe if you can't WFH
While many people get remote jobs to work from home, others want remote jobs that allow them to work out of the office and out of their home. Many distributed companies offer a co-working allowance (as Hotjar does) that gives a certain budget to pay for a co-working space each month. If you're not a fan of the co-working atmosphere, many co-working spaces have a cafe-style reception that you can use for working as long as you want like OneCoWork . Cafes are a great alternative to co-working spaces but it can be trickier to find a suitable location so do a bit of research before heading out to one! Our tip for finding a great coffice is to look at the pictures of a cafe on Google Maps and if the interior looks spacious and comfortable (not made just for tourists), you've got yourself a contender!
5. Organise your work week
This talks specifically about the work tasks you have to do for the week and is valid for working in from an office and at home. This is an easier one to do since you'll know how best you like to keep track of your tasks - whether that's a written list, on post-it notes, online in a tool like Asana or Trello. Having this organised list for the week makes team catch ups a lot more efficient and gives you more direction and clarity on what you'll be busy with.
6. Keep track of your colleagues' time zones
For fully distributed teams like Hotjar, it's absolutely important to know what time zones your colleagues are working from to align your overlapping time for meetings and synchronous work. As some people like to be on the move, keeping this up manually isn't efficient so that's why tools like Fio exist! Enter in the locations of your colleagues and never be confused on how far ahead of behind they are compared to you.
7. Optimise your synchronous and asynchronous time
Having the awareness of your colleagues' time zones allows you to plan you work day more efficiently with specific tasks that require synchronous communication with colleagues. This gives you more structure in your day and allow you to be more mindful in the way you communicate. For example, if you're working at the same time as 3 other people but 6 members of your company are not working at this time, you know not to expect immediate replies for those 6 people. Maybe you send an email instead of a slack message with more info or you create a task in Asana/Trello for them to look to when they get to work.
8. Be disciplined
Organisation, communication and discipline are the three core skills needed to be a good remote worker. While organisation and communication are also important for office work, discipline has a greater importance for remote workers. It's discipline to be self-sufficient, to stay focused and to maintain trust with colleagues and managers.
9. Create an evening routine
For the same reason a morning routine is important, you should have an evening routine. You need to ease out of the work day and make the distinction that after this routine, you won't be checking messages, emails, metrics or code. It's a big piece of advice that many remote workers give to people new to working from home as you can get in the habit of working longer just by losing track of time.