The world is seeing a workforce moving closer to remote work and freelancing. With the advent of the Internet and the impact of technology that allows virtual conferencing and remote logging, the impact of the freelancers/remote workers on the economy is rising and rising.
According to this article from Business Insider, freelancer earnings have grown 50% in the last 5 years. More and more start-ups, and even established companies are going to great lengths to accommodate employee flexibility and encourage employee freedom. This greatly helps employers to easily harness all kinds and levels of skills, to scale easily, and have more more productive working hours due to time-zone overlaps. Remote work is one of top reasons why some some startups continue to scale and grow year after year.
Though the benefits of remote working are many, there can be some major roadblocks in maintaining this work rhythm. One of the top reasons why the remote model fails is that employees fail to track their own productivity. Getting to your cubicle and officially starting work actually gets work started- but when you are working out of home or a cafe or the beach- it becomes exceedingly difficult to segregate work hours from 'other' hours.
When workers face a problem tracking the number of hours they work on a particular project, task, etc- it is only a matter a time before the effects creep up into the team's estimation, goals, promises, deliveries and morale.
There are numerous projects that fail because:
1. The hours estimated for a task did not match the actual effort.
2. The expertise required for a certain task was entirely different from what is hired.
3. The person has spent several frustrating hours on fixing some annoying feature sidelining the actual work-; which can obviously be fixed by establishing better communication and tracking routines with other members of the teams.
4. The team members start feeling disillusioned because remote work tends to be overlooked -- undermining the effort.
5. Remote workers make little islands of themselves.
6. Functioning at different time zones can make it crazy difficult for people to get on the same page.
7. It becomes increasingly difficult for remote Managers to know/analyse what's actually paying off -- making it almost impossible to keep the 'team' together.
Here are some must-do things to succeed in the art of working on your own. The best bet is to take the help of some technology to help you stay on track.
Set Goals: Ask any productivity expert and the number one tip your always receive is that you need to put down your tasks on a to-do list. Set priorities for each of them-and assiduously work on ticking them off your list.
Watch your distractions: We have all experienced this -- especially at the beginning of a freelancing/remote work career. We are all set to work on that article, or that piece of code; when a notification of that long-awaited email pops up on your email. And, it sets off a different trails of tasks. Your to-do list pretty much looks the same at the end. Installing a simple software like Time Doctor helps veer you back into the task on hand. The software recognises that you are on a social media site and gently nudges you to get back to your work.
Set windows of "Deep-work": Set up a task and get to work on it only after you have removed all distractions. Switch off the phone, disconnect the internet, sit against the wall and start working on it for a small window of time. Experts say that this helps us to get in the state of flow in just a few minutes.
Watch where your team's efforts is going: Whether you are managing a project that requires simultaneous tracking of several modules, or just need to know what's due in the next few hours, or are struggling to analyze where your team member has spent time struggling- softwares like Trello or Time Doctor can help set up seamless communication with clients and team members,receive regular updates in the form of screenshots and toggle time between projects.
About the author:
Devishobha Chandramouli is the founder of Kidskintha- a site dedicated to creating happy children where you will get the latest research scoop on child development. After being through the corporate grind, she is now settled down to a happy freelance career.
Get your own copy of the '53 Timeless Hacks To Raising A Happy Kid' here.