Last Friday, about 24 000 Finns worked remotely as part of the National Remote Work Day organized by Microsoft and Finnish Environment Institute. Anders Innovations was among the 714 companies and organizations that participated in the event.

Several of our employees have experience of working remotely, so, inspired by the occasion, we decided to draw together some of our ideas and experiences regarding remote work.

We hope these ideas will be useful for any employees considering remote work!

It’s easier to focus on just one thing

Remote work allows you to get much work done, because of calmer environment and better concentration. This contrary to any office environment were small interruptions are inevitable part of the work day.

Better concentration allows the employee to reach flow experience, and, therefore be highly productive.

Working is also more efficient because there is no need to commute to work – working can be started right away in the morning. This lack of need to commute also makes it easier to plan when to get your children from daycare, etc.

On the other hand, for many people the act of travelling to work represents a transitional stage from work-life to leisure-life. Without this stage the distinction between the two might become more blurry.

Remote communication works

Different work environment makes you see things from a slightly different perspective. At the office the system developer might, for instance, focus purely on the technical side of the system. At home he will usually also become somewhat of “a user” himself, which might help him to spot usability issues.

Telephone conversations and conference calls are easier to manage in a quiet and calm setting. In addition, calmer environment makes it easier to focus on engaging with customers and their needs and problems.

Communication with co-workers can be easily done remotely. For this purpose you can use instant messaging programs, and, of course, the phone. You do not even need to know whether the person you are talking with is at the office and also working remotely.

In your own home you have the freedom to work the way you want. You can blast music from stereos (but please be mindful of your neighbors) and dress just the way you want (or wear nothing at all!).

So, when working remotely you can work wherever you want and the way you want: at the desk, on the couch, on the floor, standing up. Variation is good – especially for your back!

Remember to keep breaks

There are also problems associated with working remotely.

First of all, the downside of achieving the flow is that you might forget to keep your breaks. Days go very quickly and soon you find yourself doing overtime.

Thus, it might be a good idea to set reminders to yourself to keep at least a breakfast break and regular coffee breaks.

Remote work is a good solution when working on a one major, clearly defined project.  If the employee is required to switch quickly between several projects, it may, at least initially, be slightly cumbersome do to when using remote access to servers and documents.

Remote working tools usually work nicely if they have been properly set up. If problems arise, they tend to do so in the beginning of your “remote working career”.

Remote work days might also have a tendency to drag on, at least if you always think about “doing just one more thing”. If you do not have a separate work space at home, it also might be difficult to get out of the work mode and switch to your spare-time mode.

Change of environment is good

Also, keep in mind that remote work does not have to be done at home. Change of environment is usually good for the clarity of thought and creativity. You can, for instance, take your laptop and go to a café for a few hours to find a solution to a particular problem.

The greatest benefit in remote work is that it gives the employee the freedom to carry out the work in a place and time that is most appropriate for the employee.

Consequently, if the employee has to work at home, the optimal solution would be to have a separate work area in the house. This way the employee can leave “work” at the end of the day.

To summarize

Just having the possibility of working remotely usually adds to the overall job satisfaction.

The possibility to work remotely whenever one feels like it brings a nice change to everyday routines. Continuous remote work is, however, the best solution only for a very few people. Working alone for long periods of time can increase anxiety and the employee is left without social contacts.

Remote days might drag on long, at least if the employee has no pressing need to walk away from the computer – such as to pick up the kids from daycare.

Similarly, the highly concentrated employee might forget to eat properly and keep the needed breaks. If commuting to work has worked as a transition from work mode to spare-time mode, the employee might be more susceptible to keep thinking about work issues on spare time.

Remote work is best suited for a situation where the employee can work on a single, clearly defined project for a long period of time without the need to jump between projects. Concentration and work efficiency tend to reach high levels, as long as the needed tools are properly installed.

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