Working Remotely: My Top 5 Tips For Being a Productive Employee


I’ve been working remotely for several years now, and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. Do I love working remotely? Heck yes! Are there pitfalls? Of course. As is the case with most things in life, there are both pros and cons to working from home. Some pros: I have control over my schedule and hours of work, and I have zero commute, which saves me a lot of time and money. The cons? Working remotely can be socially isolating, and you must be a self-starter who is able to consistently produce results.

Here are my top 5 tips for being a productive remote employee:

Be motivated

Make no mistake, working from home is NOT for everyone. If you’re the type of employee who needs a lot of direction, or who enjoys being constantly surrounded by others, working from home is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you’re someone who likes flexibility, and who is motivated to get the job done, then remote work is probably right up your alley.

My motivation comes from the fact that I love the work I do every day, and I love the organization that I do it for. It’s not hard to be productive when that’s the case. I’m not sure it’s possible to simply “become” motivated, I think it’s a mix of personality trait and of being lucky enough to find work you are truly passionate about.

Have a routine

Humans are creatures of habit; routines give us comfort and stability. This is why it’s a good idea to have a work-day routine that you follow consistently. It also helps make you more predictable and available to team-mates, who quickly get a sense for your rhythm and daily pace.

In my case, I make a point of waking up and starting my day at the office at the same time every morning. I have my coffee, and listen to the same news channel every day while I work. I also have a routine for the first few hours of my day; I get the small, daily tasks that need to be complete out of the way bright and early, so I can concentrate on more important tasks and projects throughout the rest of the day.

Be social

It’s quite easy to get into an anti-social routine when you’re working from home, so it’s important to take active steps to get out of the house and socialize with other human beings. Even if you’re an introvert, humans are social creatures who need to have daily interactions with other people to stay healthy and positive.

I sometimes go to the local Starbucks for an hour or two with my laptop and work from the comfy couches, and people watch as I get my work done. Alternatively, one of my girlfriends works from home one day a week, so sometimes we’ll get together, either at my place or hers, and we’ll do our work side-by-side. Even though we don’t work for the same organization, it’s just nice to have someone to share ideas and chit-chat with.

Being social doesn’t have to occur strictly during business hours. If you’re working from home and socializing less during your workweek, consider taking on more social extracurricular activities, like joining a sports team or a book club.

Get dressed

I won’t lie, it’s nice to have the option to wear your comfy sweats or your pajamas all day… but truth be told, I feel better about myself when I’m showered and nicely dressed. I also have a lot of nice, business-y clothes and can’t stand the thought of not letting most of my wardrobe see the light of day. That being said, I like to get dressed every morning before I sit down at my desk. I also feel better about myself when I want to run out for errands or hit the gym if I don’t look like I just rolled directly out of bed.

Have an office space

It doesn’t even need to be an entire room just a proper desk will do, although I must say, having an entire separate room which acts as my office is an awesome perk for me. When I step into the office I step into work-mode and I can focus on the tasks at hand.

I can’t speak for anybody else, but I feel MUCH more productive when I’m seated at my desk, in a proper desk chair, with my keyboard, mouse, and large monitor in front of me, versus when I’m slouched on my sofa with my laptop on my lap. It might just be me, but sitting at my proper desk makes a huge difference in my productivity.

Reap the benefits

There are advantages to working from home… some of these benefits may include the ability to work from just about anywhere in the world, or the option of running your errands during the day, while most people are stuck in the office and the stores are quiet. So if you work from home, take advantage of the perks! If you’re working hard and getting your job done, there’s no need to feel guilty about reaping the benefits of your work-from-home situation.

These are five of the top things I’ve learned since I’ve been working for a remote organization for a few years now. Have you ever worked remotely? Do you prefer remote work, or working in an office? Share your comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for more tips, tricks, and e-learning advice every day!

7 thoughts on “Working Remotely: My Top 5 Tips For Being a Productive Employee

  1. Allison says:

    Love this Nicole! I totally agree with all of these. Especially the point about getting dressed, which is a MUST for me! I feel like it puts me into work mode instead of surf-the-web mode.

    • Nicole L. says:

      Thanks for the comment, Allison! Also, I need to wear the clothes so I can actually justify the fact that I continue to buy much, much more…🙂

  2. Judi C. says:

    Great post. I agree with all points. I work remotely one day a week, and find that if I treat it as a normal work day (minus the commute) in all ways, I tend to get more work done, and can focus in much better.

  3. Marty Simon says:

    Hi Nicole.
    After 5 years of working remotely, you have really captured the essence of the challenges that go along with the benefits. As part of Being Social, I’ll only add that it has been very important for me to establish and maintain ‘virtual’ relationships with my co-workers (many of whom I’ve never met). Just swapping pictures or sending a birthday card goes a long way towards some sort of normalcy!

    As always, a great article.


    • Nicole L. says:

      That is such a great point about having good virtual relationships with coworkers and teammates. At Articulate we use Slack as a communication tool. It has been amazing at opening up channels of communication between multiple teams, and by all of us being in the same “virtual chat room” all day it makes it feel like we’re really working together…🙂 Thanks for the comment, Marty!

  4. Natalia says:

    I love this post, Nicole. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work from home as needed but I’ve never really liked it. I think some of your points would make a big difference and I’ll be trying them out next time.


  5. Alyssa Gomez says:

    Great post! My goal is to transition into a remote position (I’m currently at the mercy of a cubicle and florescent lighting). This list affirms all of the reasons why I want to go remote!

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