How to Transition From in-Person to Remote Work

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

It’s undeniable that remote work offers numerous benefits, such as ditching a commute and working from the comfort of your own home.

However, it also introduces some challenges, like maintaining clear communication with your team, staying motivated, and establishing boundaries between work and personal life.

As you’re transitioning from in-person to remote work and getting ready to start a new remote job for the first time, take time to strategize for remote work success. With the following steps, you can overcome the challenges of remote work and maximize your work-from-home productivity.

The better you understand how remote positions differ from on-site jobs, the better equipped you’ll be to transition to a remote job successfully.

Start With a Reality Check

Surprised remote worker
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Remote work has perks, but don’t misinterpret those perks. You’ll still be held accountable and expected to be productive as a remote worker.

Sure, if you have a flexible job, you can meet friends for an afternoon lunch or work outside on a sunny day, but now is also an excellent time to give yourself a reality check. You still need to get your work done.

It’s tempting to only focus on the benefits, but FlexJobs’ career experts warn that working remotely “will not be the paradise you might imagine.”

They go on to say, “Many idealize working from home because it seems like a perfect solution to all their workplace problems. However, most first-time remote workers go through a phase where reality sets in, and they realize, in some ways, it’s harder to work remotely.”

With that in mind, set up your workspace intentionally and get in the right mindset to ensure you thrive.

Set Up Your Workspace

Home office interior.
Pushish Images / Shutterstock.com

While virtual work sometimes means the ability to work from anywhere, many people find that it usually means working from a home office.

And while that can occasionally mean sitting on the couch, consider investing in yourself and setting up a home office you’ll love.

Whether that’s a room with a door or a converted closet, a dedicated and thoughtfully designed workspace helps you stay organized and productive. It also enables you to create an essential boundary between work life and home life.

Use the following tips to set up a home office space in which you’ll be productive.

1. Choose Your Physical Space

Home office space
Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock.com

As you make the transition to remote work, focus first on maximizing productivity. Choose a quiet work area away from distractions, like the TV or household noise.

A separate room with a door can help create a clear boundary between work and home life. Even if you don’t have an entire room, you can get creative and dedicate a small space as your home office.

The physical boundary will help prevent your work life from oozing over into your personal time.

2. Design for Productivity

top view, designer sitting at desk and working on his laptop, his table is perfectly tidy
Jack Frog / Shutterstock.com

Once you’ve mapped out your workspace, design your home office to promote efficiency and comfort. Consider factors such as ergonomics, lighting, and room temperature.

If you have an entire room, design a layout that allows you to easily access your tools and resources.

Even without a separate room, you can personalize your space with decorations or motivational items that boost your mood and help you stay focused.

Be mindful of where the natural lighting is and take advantage of the energy boost you’ll get from sunlight.

3. Invest in the Right Tools

Woman at a standing desk
IJMphotos / Shutterstock.com

You need a reliable computer, so double-check your company’s remote work policies. Are you expected to have one already, or does your company provide a computer?

Also, don’t automatically assume that your internet will be sufficient, especially if others at home are trying to stream or connect simultaneously.

Ask if any software specific to your company and your role needs to be loaded onto your computer before your first day working from home.

Furthermore, ergonomics can significantly impact your productivity. Double-check that your office chair and desk are comfortable and your screens are at eye level. You’ll likely need to invest in a laptop stand if you’re not using a desktop.

And don’t forget to consider any smaller accessories you might need. That can range from noise-canceling headphones to traditional office supplies, like pens, paper, and staples.

4. Mitigate Security Risks

Web developer comparing mobile and desktop website versions
baranq / Shutterstock.com

One significant aspect of adapting to remote work is realizing you’re responsible for protecting your work data and computer. Be mindful that your home Wi-Fi network and all the devices attached to it are up to date.

Remember that you’re not only responsible for your own devices but also for anyone else who logs on to your network.

Begin by making a list of the devices connected to your network, such as doorbells and smart thermostats. Now that you’re working from home, keeping your devices updated with security patches is crucial.

For added protection, consider implementing a virtual private network (VPN) and encrypting your files. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your company’s security policies and computer access guidelines.

And remember, if you choose to work outside your home, using a personal hot spot is considered the best practice. Avoid relying on public Wi-Fi, and be mindful of who can see your screen when you’re in public to safeguard your sensitive information.

Optimize Productivity and Time Management

Woman looking at her insurance policy on a laptop
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Remote work comes with a hefty dose of flexibility. That can be empowering, but it can also be paralyzing — especially if you’ve grown accustomed to the structure and routine of a traditional job.

As FlexJobs’ career experts point out, “You are the ultimate manager of yourself. You’re responsible for getting work done without the watchful eye of your manager just down the hall.

“It takes a lot more effort than you might think to make yourself focus, stay on track, and get things done.”

5. Establish a Routine

An alarm clock sits next to a plant and a cup of coffee
MK photograp55 / Shutterstock.com

Rather than looking at your time as a limitless resource, create a routine for your remote workday. Doing so will help you stay on track with the stuff you need to get done.

Of course, you have the wiggle room to change your routine when needed — that’s one of the main perks of remote work — but even a loose structure for an average workday will help you avoid procrastinating and getting sidetracked.

Start by creating a daily routine with a consistent morning schedule, such as getting dressed and eating breakfast as if you were going to the office. Set specific working hours and try to stick to them.

6. Create Boundaries

Home with wide doorway
Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.com

Establish boundaries between your work and personal life early on while you’re adjusting to working from home. Designating your workspace is the first step. Avoid working from your bed or other leisure areas to clearly distinguish work time from personal time.

Of course, you need to set boundaries with family, friends, and kids when you work remotely. But you also need to set boundaries with yourself. If you don’t, you may work a lot more than you did in the office, which could lead to burnout and exhaustion.

Initially, you may feel like you need to sit at your computer constantly, replying to every message and email the second they come in. You may also feel that you must produce more and work longer hours because your boss and coworkers can’t see you. But you don’t.

Instead, create a manageable way to check in on your task list so you and your leader are both comfortable with your workload.

Your remote work routine should also include setting expectations with your team. For example, if you use Slack to communicate with coworkers, set times for when you’re available and when you’re not so people know when to expect a response from you. Then stick to it!

Pause notifications when you aren’t working or when you’re in deep thought so you don’t break your concentration.

7. Clearly Define Your To-Do List

Woman working in a home office
Uber Images / Shutterstock.com

Do you know what to do first when you sit at your desk each morning? Have a clear understanding of your tasks and priorities by creating a to-do list and breaking down larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps.

There are several different ways to prioritize your work tasks as you’re transitioning to remote work. You just need to find the one that works best for you. Regularly update your list throughout the day as you complete tasks, and adjust your priorities as new ones get added.

Remember to be your own champion before taking on too much work. Don’t give in to the urge to agree to every assignment. Be realistic about what you can handle with your current workload.

Before taking on a new task, verify the next steps with your manager if taking on something new will make it challenging to complete your other assignments on time.

Also, don’t say “yes” only to find yourself routinely putting in extra hours. Try some of these tips to find a time management strategy that works for you, such as:

  • Setting specific deadlines for each task.
  • Assigning a level of importance to each task for better prioritization.
  • Updating your manager with additional resources or steps required to complete your tasks.

8. Schedule Time for Organization

Woman working on a laptop at home
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Organizing and planning are critical to avoid feeling overwhelmed. A daily cleanup and shutdown routine can help you stay organized.

Spend a few minutes each evening wrapping up your workday by checking your progress, updating your to-do list, and setting goals for the next day. It’s also helpful to schedule time at the end of each workday to tidy up your office space.

These simple yet effective habits will leave you feeling prepared, confident, and ready to tackle any challenges that come your way.

Prioritize Communication and Collaboration

Woman working remotely helping others
insta_photos / Shutterstock.com

Once you have set up your space and established a routine, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll work effectively from home.

Communication and collaboration are vital to success when transitioning from on-site to remote work.

9. Stay Connected With Your Team

Man working from home
Jelena Zelen / Shutterstock.com

Communication is crucial in any workplace, but especially when you’re transitioning to work from home. When you and your team aren’t working side by side, ensuring everybody’s in the loop on important updates and changes is more challenging.

It’s important to remember that proactive communication is essential. No matter how you communicate, ensure everyone is updated on your progress.

Shared documents and communication tools are great ways to let everyone know what you’re working on and accomplishing daily.

There are also no spontaneous chats around the break room, so forging relationships with your colleagues will require some conscious effort when you’re working remotely.

The FlexJobs career experts advise new remote workers to “set up reminders to say hello to their coworkers and strike up conversations. Instead of passing them in the hall and chatting, you’ll have to try to chat them up virtually.”

10. Get Familiar With Collaboration Tools

Man working in home office
G-Stock Studio / Shutterstock.com

Many companies use collaboration tools for efficient remote work. Familiarize yourself with your company’s preferred tools to participate effectively in your workplace.

Take advantage of instant messaging, file-sharing, and collaborative document editing to streamline workflows and stay on the same page. Get comfortable with both asynchronous and synchronous communication.

Even though you’re working remotely, maintain connections with your colleagues. Keep your team updated on your work progress, ask questions when necessary, and offer assistance when possible.

A daily work schedule makes it easier for teammates to know when you’re available for discussions.

11. Communicate With Transparency

Man in wheelchair working remotely
SofikoS / Shutterstock.com

Transparent communication is vital to maintaining trust and promoting collaboration, especially while working remotely. Clearly articulate your expectations, goals, and progress.

Also, without the visual and social cues in an in-person setting, it’s essential to assume positive intent in all written communications.

Without a tone to establish intent, sentiments can easily be misconstrued. Before you think someone is being rude or insensitive, ask for clarification.

When in doubt, overcommunicate, rather than assume your colleagues understand your thoughts or actions. The more you work to build rapport, the easier it will be to communicate efficiently.

Encourage open, honest discussions, and don’t hesitate to contact colleagues for support, guidance, or clarification.

Support Your Health and Well-Being

Happy woman outside
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We cannot stress enough how looking after your well-being is crucial to a successful transition to remote work. To help you maintain your wellness, we’ve compiled some of the best tips from our research over the years.

12. Balance Work and Life

Woman relaxing outside her home
Vlad Teodor / Shutterstock.com

Yes, we’re touching on this again, because balancing your work and home lives is one of the most significant factors in a healthy transition to remote work.

From creating routines to establishing boundaries, work-life balance is essential to your overall well-being and your success as a remote worker.

Read more:

13. Get Outside

Woman drinking a protein shake
Miljan Zivkovic / Shutterstock.com

Without work to pull you out of the house, it’s easy to create a routine that doesn’t include sunshine and fresh air, but both are vital to your well-being. Get creative and intentional in your drive to move outside.

From going for a walk to occasionally working in a coworking space or coffee shop, ensure you incorporate outside time into your routine.

Read more:

14. Incorporate Movement

Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1341148454 White bearded old man employee doing exercises in the office
Elnur / Shutterstock.com

It may seem like transitioning to remote work won’t affect your daily movement since you sit at a desk in your office anyway.

However, not moving to and from the parking lot, up the stairs, and down the hall adds up, and you can quickly struggle with a sedentary lifestyle you hadn’t anticipated.

Blending physical activity into your daily routine is essential for staying healthy while working from home.

Read more:

15. Be Intentional About Socialization

Senior woman exercising
sirtravelalot / Shutterstock.com

You can feel lonely when you start working from home, so it’s important to connect and interact with others to fill the social void that might develop when you work remotely.

Make time to meet up with friends and catch up over lunch, join a book club, try out an art class you’ve been putting off, or volunteer with a favorite charity or at your child’s school.

Read more:

Maintain Your Career Progression

Man working from remote office on laptop
GaudiLab / Shutterstock.com

When adjusting to working from home, it can be easy to lose sight of your career goals and miss out on opportunities for growth and advancement.

That’s why it’s crucial to intentionally maintain your career development while working remotely.

16. Understand the Expectations

Older woman working remotely
DisobeyArt / Shutterstock.com

As you’re transitioning to remote work, ensure you and your manager are on the same page about your work. Clarify your goals, targets, and the performance indicators used to evaluate your success.

Gather a list or create a plan in writing that you and your leader can access. Update and reference it regularly.

Don’t hesitate to seek clarification from your managers and colleagues if any areas are unclear.

17. Schedule Regular Check-Ins

Older woman works from home on her laptop
Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock.com

Establish routine check-ins with your manager and team to stay connected and provide updates on your progress.

During these check-ins, use the time to discuss your accomplishments, address any concerns, and ask for feedback.

You’ll often get the most benefit by setting a clear agenda when you’re discussing your progress with your leader. That way, you’ll use the time efficiently and ensure you’re staying on track.

Leave each interaction clearly, focusing on what you need to work on next.

18. Develop a Plan

Happy senior man working on his laptop and phone at a remote job.
Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock.com

A well-defined career development plan ensures steady growth toward new certifications and promotions. Begin by detailing your short-term and long-term career aspirations.

Expand your plan with skills or credentials you’ll need to reach each career stage. Then, create a realistic timeline to achieve these objectives.

After crafting your plan, collaborate with your manager to align your goals with the company’s growth targets. Remember, this isn’t a one-and-done conversation.

Consistently check in on your progress and seek feedback from your manager. You can adjust or access additional resources to stay on the right path.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Transitioning To Working From Home

Stressed woman working from home late into the evening and suffering from burnout at her computer desk
Lazy_Bear / Shutterstock.com

As you’re adjusting to working from home, you can get a head start by acknowledging and avoiding common remote work mistakes.

1. Not Being Prepared

Happy woman working remotely
Lyubov Levitskaya / Shutterstock.com

Transitioning to working from home can be overwhelming, primarily if you’re used to an office environment. It’s essential to have the right technology, tools, and resources in place as you’re adapting to remote work.

Prepare by setting up your workspace, including all necessary equipment and furniture.

Then, settle on a routine and consider any adjustments others in your home might need to make to their routine so you can have a quiet and productive workspace.

2. Not Connecting

Business woman working remotely and using her computer for an online meeting, video call.
Travelpixs / Shutterstock.com

Working from home can also mean working in isolation, which may lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection.

Use videoconferencing tools for regular team check-ins and virtual meetings to combat this. Regularly connecting will help maintain a sense of community and collaboration while working remotely.

Don’t forget to connect with colleagues on a personal level, either.

You might try little things like scheduling virtual coffee breaks or participating in team-building activities to foster a sense of camaraderie and boost morale.

3. Overcompensating To Appear Productive

Woman struggling to pay bills
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

It may be tempting to overwork and respond immediately to emails or messages, especially while you’re transitioning to remote work.

However, this can lead to burnout and impact your productivity in the long run. Remember, more work isn’t always better work.

Get in the habit of saying, “Let me check,” instead of simply accepting more work because you feel like you have to. Communicate clearly with your manager and colleagues about your availability and prioritize your tasks effectively.

4. Not Holding Boundaries

Stressed mother or stressed parent trying to work from home remotely while children cause a ruckus
1675427383 / Shutterstock.com

Working from home can blur the lines between work and personal life, making it difficult to disconnect and recharge.

It’s important to establish and stick to boundaries, whether designating a workspace or setting specific work hours.

As you’re adapting to remote work, avoid the trap of never clocking out just because you’re at home. Take breaks throughout the day, step away from your workspace, and make time for activities outside of work.

5. Not Communicating Successes

Senior worker working remotely on laptop in kitchen or home office
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

Without in-person interactions, tracking your progress and struggles can be challenging for your manager. Make an effort to regularly communicate your successes and challenges with your manager and team.

Open communication keeps everyone informed and allows for support and collaboration when needed. Don’t hesitate to ask for help or offer assistance to others.

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