The 2020 Complete Guide to Remote Work [W/ Tips & Tricks]

April 9
15 min read

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies are making the switch to remote work. 

Going remote, however, isn’t as easy as you might think. 

It’s a difficult transition for everyone, whether you’re an employee looking to improve productivity, manager looking for tools to better run their team, or a job-seeker looking for a remote position.

To help make the transition easier for everyone, we compiled this guide!

Read on to learn more about:

  • How to be more productive when working from home
  • How to find a remote job and stand out from the rest of the candidates
  • How to manage a remote team using some of the best tools on the market

There’s a lot to cover here, so let’s get started with the essentials of working from home:

Working From Home 101 - Everything You Need to Know

Until recently, remote work, for most people, seemed like all sunshines and rainbows.

True, it DOES have a lot of benefits, including higher employee productivity, lower turnover, and lower organizational costs.

At the same time, from an employee perspective, the benefits include:

  • Better work-life balance.
  • Increased productivity and focus.
  • Less stress.
  • Avoiding the commute and unnecessary office politics.
  • Saving money.

However, as you probably recently noticed, remote work doesn’t mean you’ll just be hanging out in your pajamas all day, chilling at home on your laptop and looking at cat videos in between work.

It’s actually a lot harder than that.

Some people thrive while working from home. And others, not so much.

To actually work effectively from home, you’ll need to be:

  • An excellent communicator. It’s one thing to talk with your team in real life, and something completely different to keep in touch with them occasionally through chat.
  • Be comfortable with working alone.
  • Be able to maintain a healthy work-life balance and have good time-management skills.
  • And have the strong work ethic to actually get things done instead of lounging around all day.

Which is why we created this guide: to help you adjust to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic (or to find a new remote job, if your industry is going through layoffs).

So, let’s get started!

10+ Essential Remote Work Tips

For those used to going into the office every day, remote work can take some adjustment.

Here are some tips to keep in mind and make the most of the situation:

1) Establish your workspace

A personal, dedicated workspace is key to working from home.

As fun as it might seem to lay in bed all day with your laptop - you won’t get a lot of work done that way.

By setting aside a personal workspace, you can better get into ‘work mode’ whenever you sit down. 

Just make sure your desk is organized, clean, and no one else uses it.

Pro Tip

  • Avoid the couch too and get yourself a real desk. Working from a couch or bed will make you sleepy, tired, and not so productive.

2) Eliminate distractions

Distractions come in many shapes and sizes.

Your loud barking dog. Flatmates. Or just the constant need to check your social media feed every 10 minutes.

This is going to largely depend on your personal environment.

So, it’s important to minimize distractions and plan ahead.

Some solutions might include:

  • Investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
  • Telling your friends, family, or flatmates that you won’t be available until 5 pm.
  • Getting a browser extension that blocks your most visited time-wasting sites.
  • Setting aside a dedicated lunch/snack break.

The idea is to try and emulate your office environment, so that you actually feel more like at work.

To fully minimize distractions though, you could just:

3) Sign out and turn off all non-work related notifications 

Social media, personal emails, and any other distractions, all those can go.

It’s easier than ever to get distracted when working from home.

So, make sure you sign out or just turn off your personal devices completely.

And similarly, sign out of and turn off notifications for work-related emails and messages once your work is done too.

4) Set a schedule

Here’s another popular misconception about remote work:

You wake up whenever you feel like it, grab a snack, watch the latest episode of your favorite show first, AND THEN, you start working.

Wrong on all accounts.

If you want to be productive, and still finish work by 5pm, you’ll need a clear work schedule.

This way, you’re effectively turning work into a habit, which will then help your mind and body adapt to the new working environment.

And hey, at least you won’t have to get up early to make the commute.

5) Track time

Want to make sure you’re sticking to your schedule? Start tracking time!

There are plenty of free apps that allow you to do this, and then, you’ll be able to see the breakdown of each day by the hour.

This is a great way to get an overview of your personal productivity when working remotely.

And as a bonus, you’ll also know if you’re wasting any extra time on social media, and if so - on what sites, when, and how.

Now, you’ll know which sites to block and how to get more things done.

6) Dress for work

But wait, isn’t the whole point of remote work that you can do it from your couch while wearing pyjamas?

Sure, that’s the common stereotype with remote work

But if you want to be more productive, taking the time to put on ‘work clothes’ can be a huge psychological boost.

Look at it as part of your self-care routine, and then, once your work is done, feel free to change back into the sweatpants.

Also, if video calls are a part of your job, no one will want to know what your pyjamas look like.

7) Plan ahead

Do you know what you’re going to be working on tomorrow? Next week? Next month?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of short-term thinking when working remotely.

Especially during a crisis.

While you can only plan ahead for so long, doing some long-term planning will only stand to benefit you.

You can use:

  • A personal notebook.
  • Google calendar.
  • Daily or weekly to-do lists.
  • Other communication tools to set up and schedule meetings in advance.

8) Choose what works for you

Here’s the thing with productivity hacks when working from home:

Everyone works differently.

Some people prefer to work in intervals of 25 minutes (AKA Pomodoro technique), while others prefer to zone in with work until they’re done.

There is no one-size-fits-all time management technique that will skyrocket your productivity.

Instead, you should try a few tactics, and see what works best for YOU personally.

9) Set and stick to your goals

Remote work, by nature, tends to be goal-oriented.

A lot of time, there will be no one looking over your shoulder to see if you’re actually working.

Because of this, some people struggle with motivation and finding the willpower to get work done.

To avoid this from happening, make sure you set clear tasks and goals daily. This way, you’ll be sure to maintain optimal levels of motivation when working remotely.

10) Set clear communications

If you don’t regularly work from home, you can expect some bumps in the road when going remote for the first time.

To ensure the transition is smooth, it’s key you have clear communications with your manager and colleagues.

For this, choosing the right project management and communication tools is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page.

We’re going to cover the tools section more in-depth below.

But for now, here’s how you can actually get your foot in the door when it comes to remote work:

How to Get a Remote Job

Because of COVID-19, a lot of industries have a very high risk of layoffs. These include:

  • Travel & transportation
  • Leisure & hospitality
  • Help services
  • Sports industry
  • Oil drilling and extractions

So, if your job is in one of these industries, you might want to consider switching to a more remote-friendly job.

Now, how do you do that?

Pretty much the same principles from regular job-search apply here:

You’ll still need a strong resume, a great cover letter, and a smooth interview game to charm the person on the other end of the screen.

There are, however, some changes you’d want to make for your application to stand out for remote companies.

With your resume, you want to focus on:

  • Communication - Remote companies tend to hire people with exceptional communication skills. So, you might want to emphasize on that in your resume.
  • Tools - Most remote companies use a ton of tools to manage their employees: Basecamp, Asana, Slack, Zoom, and so on. If you’re familiar with some of them, mention that in your resume.

Pro Tip

  • Not sure how to create an exceptional resume? We’ve got your back - we created one of the most comprehensive guides to writing a resume out there. Check it out to learn more!

Now, here’s what to include in a cover letter for a remote job:

  • Your experience with working remotely (if any).
  • Skills and 2-3 top achievements that would be relevant for a remote job.
  • If the company is famous for being remote-only (and not just because of the pandemic), you can also explain a bit why you want to work for a remote company.

Want to learn more about cover letters? Check out our guide.

Finally, the job interview will be noticeably different. Here’s how to prepare for an online interview:

  • When interviewing for a remote job, expect questions about how you’re going to handle the logistics of working outside the office. As in, how good are you at time-management? Any examples you can provide?
  • Along with that, you can also expect the usual common interview questions like why you applied for that position specifically, an achievement you’re most proud of, and so on.

Pro Tip

13 Most Common Remote Jobs and What They Pay

If you role isn’t something that can be done remotely, you’re probably considering switching careers.

Here are some of the most common professions for remote work (with their average pay according to EBN).

  1. Account Manager - $52,263
  2. Accountant - $50,357
  3. Bookkeeper - $41,113
  4. Business Development Manager - $71,017
  5. Client Services Director - $87,575
  6. Customer Service Representative - $36,839 
  7. Developer - $69,687
  8. Medical Coder - $40,590
  9. Online Tutor - $34,974
  10. Speech Language Pathologist - $59,669
  11. Teacher - $45,798
  12. Virtual Assistant - $34,587
  13. Writer - $48,629

And more. For a more comprehensive list, check out this article.

Now, let’s talk about some of the top job-search websites for remote work...

Top 20 Remote Work Job Boards

Before we move on here, yes - today, because of the quarantine, most jobs you find online are going to be remote (at the time).

If you’re looking for such a job, just head over to your favorite job search website, and you’re good to go.

In this section, however, we’re going to focus on websites that help you find permanently remote jobs (ones that are going to be remote even after the quarantine ends).

So, some of these websites include:

Freelancer.com

Freelancer.com is one of the world’s largest outsourcing marketplace websites. 

It’s full of remote freelance gigs, and to get started, all you need to do is create a profile and start bidding on jobs.

From there, you can search by keywords, filter by budget, duration, job type, skills required, and more.

WorkingNomads

WorkingNomads delivers a curated list of remote jobs straight into your inbox.

You have the option to choose daily or weekly emails and get the remote job searches come to you instead.

Or, you could also search for jobs the usual way through keywords and categories as well.

WeWorkRemotely

When the site requests a payment of $299 to post a job, you know that you’re bound to see some high-quality and serious remote work opportunities.

WeWorkRemotely is the world’s largest remote work community website and one of the best places to find high-quality online work.

If you’ve got the experience, this is where you should be looking for online work.

HubStaff Talent

HubStaffTalent is another free online job board for all things remote work.

It’s super easy-to-use, and the site is a great resource for quality jobs all over the world.

No bidding, high-quality work, and great exposure - what’s not to like?

Remote.co

Remote.co conveniently breaks down remote work by the category, and shows the timestamp of each job post.

This remote job search site has been building a reputation for reliable source for both job seekers and employers.

It also has great resources for remote job seekers, including a Q&A board, and a community with regular content to help you land your dream remote job.

JobSpresso

Each remote job posting on JobSpresso is hand-picked and reviewed by the site’s staff.

And companies who want to post their jobs on it can pay to have their listing featured in the job search.

While the listings might not be very accurate because of this, you can still expect to only find high-quality listings on the site.

Upwork

Upwork is probably the single most well-known freelance and remote job website.

Almost every type of remote work that exists, you’re bound to find it on Upwork.

Be warned though, Upwork takes a 20% cut from your earnings, until you build a regular relationship with a client. 

So, while you might not earn as much in the beginning, the platform can be a great place to develop your chops and build a portfolio.

Fiverr

Like Upwork, Fiverr can be a decent site if you want to build a portfolio FAST.

Most jobs start at $5, so, the site focuses mainly on gigs, micro-jobs, and other small tasks.

If getting paid a lot is your top priority, you can skip this site.

Remote.ok

Remote.ok has some pretty interesting features, such as:

  • Live rankings of the top companies offering remote jobs.
  • Statistics about the kind of remote jobs that are trending today.
  • And of course, a lot of different categories and job listings for all things remote work.

Workew

Workew is another job search site for all things remote work.

There are a ton of job categories on the site that you can’t find anywhere else (e.g. crypto jobs), and you can use the platform to find new job postings on a daily basis.

Niche Job Boards

There are also a ton of job boards for specific fields:

  • Dribbble - The heart of the design community and the best place to discover remote graphic-design related gigs.
  • Behance - Similar to Dribbble. But focuses more on creative jobs of all types: career opportunities, freelance gigs, internships, and more.
  • AngelList - All things related to remote startup jobs. 
  • Hired - A marketplace for remote tech workers to find IT companies.
  • Dice - Another tech site where you’ll find some of the biggest corporations looking for remote workers.
  • ProBlogger - Interested in remote work as a writer? ProBlogger is a home for all sorts of remote writers (blogs, copy, social media, etc.).
  • HireMyMom - Niche job board for stay-at-home moms and those taking a break from their careers.
  • SalesGravy - Job search site for all things sales.
  • StackOverflow - Go-to site for web development Q&A as well as tech job boards.
  • MediaBistro - Remote work opportunities in all media categories from marketing to publishing and television.

10 Essential Tools for Remote Work

Now, for a brief second, imagine you’re still working from an office, and you have a quick question on the project you’re working on.

You walk over to your coworker, give them a pat on the shoulder, ask the question, and get back to work.

For obvious reasons - you can’t do this with remote work.

Instead, you’d want to use some of the best online tools for managing remote work.

Here are a few of our favorites, sorted by the category:

Remote Project Management Tools

Want to never miss a deadline and make sure everyone on the team is on the same page?

Consider the following project management tools:

Basecamp

Basecamp is a project management tool for remote teams to have a centralized system as their workplace.

It’s like an online HQ that allows virtual teams to work together, enjoy company-wide communication, and track private tasks, depending on the project.

If you’ve been trying to figure out how to transition your company to remote work, Basecamp is the ideal remote base for your online workflow.

Notion

Notion is another all-in-one workspace for teams and individuals to collaborate and stay organized together.

If until now you’ve been using a million and one different tools for the different parts of your work, you can just use Notion to complete all your work from one place.

This includes the essentials like note-taking and sharing documents, to the more advanced stuff like creating spreadsheets and databases within the tool.

Trello

Looking for something more straightforward?

Trello might be the way to go.

The site is very visual when it comes to managing your tasks. You can set up your own workflows, assign tasks, set deadlines, monitor progress, and more - by creating and adding visual cards. 

Asana

Finally, Asana is another popular project management tool that excels at communication and managing projects.

It might not be as advanced as the other tools. But it’s still an extremely simple approach to workflow management. 

When it comes to building charts, monitoring progress and workload, and streamlining processes - Asana is as simple as it gets.

ProofHub

With ProofHub you can get more work done faster, together. Whether it is about keeping your teams on the same page, or committing to deadlines and celebrating success, you and your team and clients can do it all under one roof, using one work management system.

Communication tools

Slack

Slack is the number one go-to communication tool for remote teams and startups across the globe.

It includes all the basic features like different channels and chat rooms, video calls and screen sharing

And you can also turn it into an advanced powerhouse chatroom by integrating it with your other apps.

You can also add bots to automate minor tasks and if needed, unlock the enterprise key management to gain better control over your data.

Zoom

If you’re serious about video and conference calls - Zoom is the way to go.

You can use the basic, free option for unlimited 40 minute 1 to 1 meetings and host group conferences with up to 100 participants.

Or, you can also pay extra if you ever need to host 500+ participants.

For remote freelancers as well as enterprises, Zoom offers a LOT of remote video call options.

Other Essential Tools for Remote Work

Toggl

Want to make sure the things you’re working on actually get done under the deadline?

You can start tracking your work with Toggl to learn how long it takes you to complete one task, for example.

Apply that to your whole team, and you’ll know exactly how many man-hours it’ll take for the project to wrap up.

Lumen5

Lumen5 creates impactful, engaging videos from your existing content, it increases your social engagement and saves time in the process.

WaveApps

If you’re going to be freelancing from home, you’ll probably end up creating a ton of invoices.

If you don’t want to get overwhelmed by your finances, you can use Wave to create professional invoices for free, and track your whole expenses as you scale.

TransferWise

Speaking of finances, if you’ll ever need to send or receive money from abroad, you can use TransferWise and save money on bank wire transfers.

With no hidden conversion fees, TransferWise is a must if you’re working with different currencies.

1Password

Finally, if you ever get overwhelmed by the number of tools you end up using, you could look into using a password management tool to better keep track of everything.

1Password is a simple tool that provides a place for your various passwords, licenses, and other sensitive information.

And don’t worry, the platform has never been hacked, and your passwords are fully encrypted. Even the developers on the site can’t access it!

Key Takeaways

And that’s a wrap!

Ready to jumpstart your remote career now?

Here’s a quick recap of everything we’ve covered:

  • Having trouble staying productive while working from home? Treat it like the office: avoid distractions, create yourself a workspace, dress up for work, etc.
  • Considering switching to a remote job? Optimize your resume and cover letter for a remote position. Learn more about video interviews, and what kind of questions a remote-only employer might ask.
  • Finally, if you’re managing a remote team, or are just looking for means of getting more work done from home, use some of the essential remote owrk tools we mentioned above.

At Novorésumé, we’re committed to making sure you get the job you deserve, every step of the way. Be sure to follow our career blog if you’d like to read more and stay up-to-date with our industry-leading career advice.

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