There are many benefits to working remotely. No longer are we limited by our geographical presence when all that is required is a laptop and a good Internet connection. We can now attend overseas meetings without stepping foot onto an airplane. However, what you do to prepare yourself can have a monumental impact on your productivity. Equipping yourself with the proper tools for your specific needs can save you much more than the time of a tedious commute.
Location, Location, Location
You can have all the tools that you need but without an organized, quiet workspace, distractions can hinder your productivity. Find a bland space that has everything that you need and nothing more. You do not want to be fixated on that dining room wall that needs painting when facing an impending deadline. Ignore personal email that sets you off course and make sure you are not surrounding yourself with inquisitive children and a whining dog that has yet to be walked. Be aware of when you yourself need to be walked so you can come back refreshed and ready to return to work.
Upgrade Whenever Possible
Nothing is more frustrating to maintaining a steady workflow than when you are waiting an extravagant about of time to upload a document. Make sure your network can handle your speed. If this means upgrading to a faster network then so be it as the investment will pay for itself in your improved efficiency. If your files are too large to send through email, you can use Dropbox or some other file-sharing service to share files. Dropbox can be synched to all your devices which makes it possible to access your files from your phone after they are saved.
Take Advantage of the Internet
Know how to search and find what you need in less time. The Internet provides a wealth of information without ever having to leave your chair. Maximize your search process by using unique keyword combinations that are specific to your search so you can find what you are looking for in a shorter amount of time.
Use Communication Tools
Chances are that at some point you might need to poke your head out of the hovel you have burrowed yourself in and communicate with the outside world. And by communicate I mean face-to-face (or rather screen-to-screen) communication. This is probably when it might be best to wipe the crumbs off your pajamas and prepare yourself for online viewing. Share your screens with applications that are easy to set up like Google Hangouts or Skype. Use services such as GoToMeeting or Koowy to hold conferences with multiple people with the use of webcams and microphones. Dropbox is a convenient way to automatically update projects with your coworkers without having to send them back and forth through email.
Working remotely may mean that you need to work a little harder to make sure that you stay organized and effectively prioritize your workload. Your risk of becoming invisible is greater than when you go into an office everyday so the onus falls on you to make your presence known by keeping up a steady stream of communication with the people you work with. You may need to find creative ways to replace the small talk by the water cooler or those quick acknowledgments in the hallway. For those freelancers who work alone, continue to set your own bar for success, whether it be through updating your skills with relevant classes or forming a connection to others in the same field who are interested in collaboration.