Co-work vs remote work

Although there are definitely perks to working from home, there are also downsides including distractions and not having a professional location to meet clients.

Co-working continues to be on the rise, with more and more co-working spaces popping up all over the world. There are a range of different places at different prices with flexible plans. These spaces offer great benefits for both the remote worker and their company as in most working scenarios, it can increase productivity and also improve the quality of your work, not to mention you’ll probably be able to get a decent cup of coffee!

Think about it you’ll be in a more work-like environment, and co-working spaces allow for interactions with other people, something which remote workers can miss out on when they work from home. Those interactions could range from just having a conversation to full-on collaboration with other co-workers sharing the space. You don’t need to be in the same industry to be able to get ideas, network and be inspired in the company of other like-minded individuals. Different companies have different ways of working but lots of ideas are transferable between industries.

The community atmosphere in a co-working space can promote collaboration, networking but also friendships. Never underestimate the power of working in a positively-charged space with like-minded peers.

What do you think? Is the allure of a co-working space greater than working from home?

 

First steps to remote working

It can be daunting going “office-free”, but it can also be liberating. You take control of your work life and make it work for you.

  1. Working from home doesn’t necessarily mean working from home, if you feel that you would be more productive at your local library, in a co-working space, in the garden, sitting in your local coffee shop or wherever, you’re free to do that, providing that you are not beyond reach if your work involves regular contact with a manager or colleagues.
  2. Make sure that you’ve got everything you need to do your job – computer/laptop, WiFi, notepads, a headset with a decent microphone if you’ll be doing a lot of conference calls etc., any software or VPN access that you might need.
  3. Be ready for distractions – at least when you first start working from home it can be hard to focus on your work. Whether the distraction is your kids, pets, neighbours mowing the lawn or the availability of a television…try not to let these take over your working day and treat it as if it were a normal day in the office.
  4. Get dressed for work – embrace the opportunity to wear more comfortable/casual clothes but make an effort to actually get dressed and if you’re going to be taking part in conference video calls, make an effort to look presentable.
  5. Set your hours and stick to them – it can be easy to overwork when you don’t have to take your regular commute home at the end of the working day but it’s important to put these boundaries in place from the outset, you can always look at changing them later.
  6. Invest in a proper home-working area – if you don’t have a home office, consider buying a desk and setting it up to work from, we guarantee you’ll find it harder to concentrate in the long run if you work from your bed or kitchen table.
  7. Try different tools and software and see what works for you – there are countless apps and tools out there, we’ve written about some of our favourites here, but see what works for you (and your employer).
  8. Stay connected with your team – however you do it, via daily or weekly catch ups or software like Nowbridge, it can get lonely working from home without the ongoing buzz that happens in an office, so stay connected.

 

The importance of a work-life balance

The importance of the work-life balance in today’s world is on the rise, and a lot of people are realising that they aren’t limited to the job or industry they first started working in.

With the advances in technology, workers are now available around the clock. A huge number of people work considerably longer hours than they are paid for, and this can impact health, happiness and even relationships. Something has to give. A lot of people choose to work remotely, which gives them more control over their time but there are other ways to help with his.

Work-life balance means something different to everyone but here are our tips for helping you find your balance.

Learn how to unplug and embrace it

Technology is a wonderful thing but it has created expectations of constant availability and as such, we find it hard to switch off. Try to avoid checking your phone for the first and last hour of the day, this should help you sleep better and give you more control. If we constantly respond and react to work emails, we never stop working.

Make time for yourself

One of the first things that slips when we get busy is our self-care. Schedule in your exercise or meditation just as you’d schedule a meeting. It’s no secret that exercise is effective for clearing your mind and relieving your stress, so make time for yourself and make the most of those endorphins!

Try to avoid time-wasting activities

What is important in your life? Once you’ve worked this out, you’ll find it easier to prioritize your tasks and weed out things that are wasting your time and not contributing to your overall happiness. Focus on the things that reward you the most, both in your home and work life.

Set some boundaries

Make it clear to your colleagues that you’ll reply to their emails and get back to them within a certain time frame, if you need to set an ‘out-of-office’ reply every evening then so be it. Nowbridge helps you set these boundaries by showing when you are and aren’t at your desk so you can make it clear to your colleagues when you’re available or not. Find out more about it here.

Learn to let things go

Had a bad day? Don’t let it turn into a bad week. In the grand scheme of things, most mistakes aren’t the end of the world so don’t put extra pressure on yourself. Leave work at work, or at least try to! If you work from home, or regularly take work home with you, try to confine it to an area of your house like a home office or study and avoid letting it take over your home time.

Do what works for you

Whether you live to work or work to live, it’s important to do what makes you happy. On average, we spend around 90,360 hours of our life working so it has to be worth it for you.

Handy tools for remote workers

There has been a huge rise in the past couple of years of new software and apps to increase productivity, streamline connectivity and all in all, make it easier for both in-house and remote workers to improve the efficiency of their working days.

For productivity and project management there are the usual suspects, Trello, Asana, Jira and Axosoft, which crop up a lot in reviews and articles about remote working. Also Slack, which is technically more of a messaging app for teams, but you can do a fair bit more than that, including file sharing and prioritizing conversations into topics and themes.

Another clever tool for remote teams split across different time zones is EveryTimeZone, which shows you how the time zones of your coworkers overlap with yours so you can coordinate efforts more easily.

Google Cloud Print eliminates the need to print huge documents at home and allows you to send the documents to a printer at the office or, any printer in the world really! Speaking of clouds, Dropbox and WeTransfer are great for sharing large documents with your colleagues – you don’t need an account for the latter and can transfer up to 2GB a time as often as you need.

Need to drown out some background noise but find the radio or television too distracting? Try Noisli, a white noise app. You can pick and choose the high quality ambient sounds and see what works for you!

A new contender that we’re quite excited about is Moleskine’s Smart Writing Set, which lets you hand write your notes and see them transferred to an app on your phone, so they are instantly digitized. Eliminating the need to write up your notes or scan in diagrams or drawings to send to colleagues, this will save you time and reduce the risk of losing the work. We can’t wait to give this one a try!

Nowbridge is our offering; a remote working software that allows you to stay part of the team by sharing live still images every few seconds with your colleagues so you can see who is available and who isn’t. You can send instant chat messages, leave voice messages and even call someone on Skype from within the desktop app. There are a number of different photo filters available and the images are only shared with people who you allow to see you. It gives you a clear boundary between when you’re at work and when you’ve finished for the day and helps you stay part of the team, wherever you are in the world.

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Are there any other great apps or software we should be aware of? Let us know!

 

Improve your communication and productivity

Although a lot of companies strive to improve communication and productivity, a lot of the time, this can fall by the wayside when urgent projects and deadlines take priority. Add in staffing/recruitment issues and budget cuts and it’s understandable that focusing on the needs of your current staff can slip. But communication and productivity aren’t just important for the managers, directors, executives, CEOs, they are crucial for the rest of the staff too.

What you might not realise is that communication doesn’t necessarily improve by being in the same office as someone. In fact, often the communication quality improves dramatically when one or both parties work remotely. For one thing, you make time to speak to each other. Often in offices, there’s the temptation to give someone a quick call or pop over to their desks. Convenient yes, but it’s likely that the other person is working on something else and isn’t entirely focused on your particular query. Therefore, you might be able to speak to them quickly but how likely is it that you’ve got 100% of their attention and understanding?

The increase in productivity that comes from working remotely or having remote workers is the subject of many an article, blog post and tweet. But the facts are hard to deny. With the loss of office noise, interruptions, necessary or seemingly-unnecessary meetings, remote workers can focus more on their work and also work during their most productive hours – that is, if the company allow flexible working. We mentioned in an earlier blog that by hiring remote workers, you increase your talent pool. If, for example you are on a different timezone to your employees, this can also mean that while you sleep, they might also be working on the project and can advance it significantly before you even start your next working day.

There are obviously other ways to improve communication and productivity in companies than by having a remote working policy but with all the benefits to both employee and employer that come from remote working, it shouldn’t be ignored.

Don’t forget to try Nowbridge, it’s free, easy and can make remote workers feel like they’re still a part of the team. Try it today!

Be more productive when you work from home

  • Make yourself a home office or at least separate off an area for yourself and tell yourself that is where you work from home. If you don’t have any separation, you’ll always feel like you’re trapped in limbo between working and not working. Another way to counter this is by using Nowbridge but we’ll talk more about that later…

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  • Decide what your hours will be and stick to them (as far as possible). If your company are flexible with the hours you do, work out when you work best in the day. A lot of people find that they work best outside of the 9-5 constraints, i.e. if you’re more productive after lunch, do your hours then. Of course, depending on your job, some companies might prefer you to stick to the normal 9-5 hours. It really depends on the company, the industry and your role.
  • Make sure you take a lunch break and get away from your computer during that time. Try to avoid eating lunch at your desk, this blurs the boundaries between work and non-work.
  • Take breaks. Remember that if you were in the office, you’d likely be going to get cups of tea or coffee or walking to fetch work from the printer. It’s important to take breaks from the screen and by doing little jobs like hanging your laundry out to dry or emptying the dishwasher, you don’t have to do these things later and can enjoy your home time more.

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  • Work like you’re at the office. As in, try not to schedule appointments for the middle of the day or take a long lunch with a friend – don’t slack off!
  • Schedule time to check in with the office. This can help with any collaborative projects and remind you that you’re part of a team. A lot of companies have taken to using online chat software – again, Nowbridge does this and also has Skype integrated. 

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  • Get some background noise. We don’t know about you but we find it hard to work in silence. If you like it then – job done! If not, why not try Spotify or the radio?
  • Get dressed every day. As tempting as it might be to stay in your pijamas, getting dressed helps you get into the right mindset for the day and again, gives you a small amount of separation between your home time and your working day. NB: This is also a good idea if your company like spontaneous conference/Skype calls.

A little bit about Nowbridge

As we mentioned earlier, Nowbridge can help bridge the gap (see what we did there?) between working from home and the office. Live still images updating every few seconds all day long create the illusion of being together. You control who you connect with and when. You can only be seen by the people you can see. Did we mention it’s free and easy to use?

So you can turn your laptop on, open Nowbridge and see who else is working. When it comes to lunchtime, you can either leave it running while you are away from your desk or press pause – flagging the fact that you’ve stopped working. Use it throughout the day to send chat messages to colleagues or even quickly call them on Skype when you can see they’re at their desks. At the end of your working day, press pause or close Nowbridge down and it’s clear to everyone in your team that you have finished for the day.

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Try it today! 

 

The difficulties of working remotely

We all know the benefits of working remotely…but the recent BBC interview with professor Robert Kelly about South Korea (where he was briefly interrupted by his young children rushing into the room – you’ve all seen it!), has brought to light some of the things that inevitably happen when you’re working from home and started some great discussions on social media about remote working.

It can be hard to stay professional when you’re working remotely. Whether it’s because you usually dress more casually when you’re at home, or the seemingly constant interruptions and distractions from pets, family, the doorbell, the neighbours mowing the lawn etc. – but all of that is just an element of working from home.

Back to the aforementioned video, people all around the world were actually rather enamored by the children. There are already parodies on YouTube, some people have pledged to enter every room with the young girl’s “confident swagger” from now on, and others think that he was a bit abrupt with the excited children and could have briefly paused the interview to take them outside.

However, there are theories for why he couldn’t do that…and this is our favourite:

“MY THEORY: BBC interview guy couldn’t move to properly deal with the kids because he was wearing a shirt/tie/jacket but just some pants.” – Marie Le Conte (@youngvulgarian) March 10 2017

I’m sure lots of people can attest to being in similar situations while working remotely but you know what? Life happens. It’s the way you deal with situations like this that are the real test.

 

Has anything like this ever happened while you’ve worked remotely? Let us know in the comments!