This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
"I'm heading to the office" is an expression that's becoming about as outdated as "I'll fax it to you" or "Call my pager." The traditional office is quickly becoming obsolete as advancements in technology continue to redefine how we work and where we work. But as we move beyond the confines of the conventional desk space, a number of real-world distractions come into play that remote employees have to conquer to help stay focused. To boost your productivity, it's important to incorporate these simple tried and true measures – no matter where you choose to set up your office.
Stick to your routine
You wouldn't go into a traditional office space without brushing your teeth or running a comb through your hair so maintain that same level of professionalism when working at home. Sometimes a simple action can put you in the right frame of mind, and whether you're working from home, an airport or a coffee shop, take a few minutes to mentally prepare for the day. Kick it off with a routine and commit to it; shower, have breakfast, go to the gym or grab a coffee before getting down to business. Most importantly, though, get dressed. It's great to be comfortable, but dressing professionally can help you feel motivated and focused.
Set aside a specific workspace
Working from your bed is about as conducive to productivity as a crowded, noisy subway car. If you often work from home, dedicate a space specifically for work. Ensure that space is quiet, has ample lighting, comfortable seating and do your best to separate the workspace from your personal space. If you are working on the go, make use of the desk in your hotel room but don't reach for the television remote. If your office for the day is an airport or coffee shop, you might not be able to set aside a dedicated workspace but you can be prepared – bring a spare battery for your smartphone, tablet or laptop and a pair of headphones to help drown out any background noise when working or conducting calls. You may have to get a little creative sometimes, but minimizing distractions will help you focus.
Communicate and collaborate
Working outside of a traditional office doesn't mean that you've suddenly become a lone wolf; you're still part of a team and need to stay connected. Poor work habits can affect both the quality of work and your relationship with your team, especially for those newly entering the remote work force. Make use of the tools that your company may already provide such as virtualization products or cloud-storage tools. These tools will give you access to company files even when you are out of the office. Most importantly, when you work remotely, make sure the lines of communication are always open. Whether you need to participate in a conference call from a hotel room or view your team's project status in real-time, there are a number of collaboration tools available to enable this.
Know when to log off
Having work so close at hand can make drawing the line between personal life and work life difficult. Establish set hours in which you plan to work – and stick to them – to help you fully disconnect when your work day comes to an end. That doesn't mean e-mails won't stop coming in, but make a decision between what is urgent and what can wait until tomorrow. Dedicating time for family and personal life is important to a happy and healthy mindset at work.