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Beyond 9-5: Redefining Productivity for Remote Workers

Looking beyond the now and into what remote work could be is exciting. Let’s re-imagine the idea of “work” together. Thanks to technological advancements, professionals are no longer bound to a traditional 9-5 office routine. Remote work offers flexibility and freedom, allowing individuals to create a work-life balance that suits their needs. However, with this newfound freedom comes the challenge of redefining productivity.

In this article, we will explore seven ways that remote workers could transcend the confines of the traditional workday and redefine productivity. As you explore these ideas, consider what you could adopt or adjust that would work for your remote team and organization.

1. Embracing Flexible Schedules

One of the key benefits of remote work is the ability to create a flexible schedule. Rather than adhering to rigid 9-5 hours, remote workers can leverage their autonomy to work during their most productive hours. Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, adjusting your schedule to align with your natural energy levels can significantly enhance your productivity. By embracing flexible schedules, remote workers can optimize their work output and achieve a better work-life balance.

What could this look like?  John, a remote worker, identifies that he is most productive in the early morning hours. Instead of forcing himself to work from 9 am to 5 pm, he adjusts his schedule to start work at 6 am and finishes by 2 pm. This allows him to leverage his peak productivity hours and enjoy the rest of the day for personal activities.

remote worker being productive

2. Setting Expectations

Setting clear expectations is crucial for remote workers to thrive in their roles. Communicating and aligning expectations with managers, clients, and team members ensures clarity and avoids misunderstandings. Establishing guidelines for communication, response times, and project deliverables helps maintain productivity and accountability.

What would this look like?

Mark, a remote software engineer, works in a globally distributed team. To ensure clear communication and manage availability expectations, the team utilizes an IM chat tool with status indicators. They establish guidelines for indicating availability and being away to minimize interruptions and facilitate focused work time.

When Mark is available and actively working, he sets his status as “Available” in the IM chat tool. This signals to his colleagues that he is online and ready for collaboration or immediate responses. Conversely, when Mark needs uninterrupted focus time, he changes his status to “Away” or “Busy.” This informs his team members that he is not immediately available for chats or meetings.

By setting these expectations and utilizing the status indicators effectively, Mark and his team maintain a productive work environment. They respect each other’s need for focused work time while ensuring efficient communication when it is necessary, ultimately enhancing overall productivity and teamwork.

remote worker being productive IN AN inspiring workspace

3. Setting Clear Goals and Priorities

When working remotely, it’s crucial to set clear goals and priorities. Without the oversight of a manager or the structure of a physical office, remote workers must take ownership of their work. Setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals helps remote workers stay focused and motivated. Breaking down larger tasks into smaller milestones can provide a sense of accomplishment and keep productivity levels high.

What could this look like? Sarah, a remote project manager, breaks down a large project into smaller milestones and sets specific deadlines for each task. By doing so, she gains a clear sense of direction, knows what needs to be accomplished each day, and can track her progress effectively. She can also share her efforts with her leader through automated reporting tools to ensure everyone is comfortable with the progress.

remote worker being productive

4. Embracing Technology and Collaboration Tools

Remote work relies heavily on technology and collaboration tools. To redefine productivity in a remote work setting, it’s essential to embrace these tools and leverage their capabilities. Communication platforms, project management tools, and video conferencing tools enable seamless collaboration with remote colleagues. Utilizing time-tracking and productivity apps can help remote workers manage their time effectively and stay on track.

What could this look like? Michael, a remote software developer, uses collaboration tools to streamline communication and manage project tasks efficiently. He leverages video conferencing tools for virtual meetings with his team, ensuring effective collaboration despite being physically distant.

remote worker being productive

5. Practicing Effective Time Management

Remote workers must master the art of time management to maximize productivity. With various distractions and potential for blurred boundaries, implementing effective time management techniques is crucial to stay focused and achieve goals.

By emphasizing effective time management, remote workers can optimize their productivity, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and prevent overwhelm. Implementing techniques like time blocking or prioritizing tasks based on urgency and importance can greatly enhance productivity and overall job satisfaction in a remote work environment.

What could this look like? Jennifer, a remote marketing manager, implements strategies to manage her time efficiently. She sets a timer for 25 minutes of focused work, followed by a 5-minute break. After completing four work sessions, she takes a longer break of 15-30 minutes. This technique helps her maintain concentration, manage distractions, and break down her tasks into manageable chunks, resulting in increased productivity and reduced burnout.

remote worker motivated by her clean and organized workspace

6. Creating a Designated Workspace that Inspires

While remote work allows you to work from anywhere, creating a designated workspace can significantly impact productivity. A dedicated workspace helps establish boundaries between your personal and professional life. It signals to your brain that it’s time to work and aids in minimizing distractions.

As a leader, it is important to lead by example and encourage your remote team to design their workspaces or background choices in a way that inspires and motivates them. This is an opportunity for creativity and to learn what motivates your team members. Personalize it with items that spark joy and recognize these elements when meeting. Remote work allows us to visit one another in our homes “virtually” so it changes the playing field of work. No longer are workers and leaders one-dimensional. We find out a lot about one another just in their chosen remote workspaces or backgrounds they choose.

What could this look like? Emily, a freelance writer, sets up her workspace in a well-lit corner of her home office. She decorates it with motivational quotes, plants, and artwork that inspires her creativity. This personalized and inviting workspace helps her get into a focused mindset and boosts her productivity.

remote worker being productive

7. Practicing Self-Care and Work-Life Integration

Remote work blurs the boundaries between work and personal life. While this can lead to increased flexibility, it also requires remote workers to practice self-care and work-life integration consciously. Establishing boundaries and setting aside time for breaks, exercise, and personal activities is crucial for overall well-being and sustained productivity. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a hindrance to productivity but an essential component of it.

What could this look like? Lisa, a remote graphic designer, prioritizes self-care by incorporating breaks and physical activity into her daily routine. She takes short walks during lunch breaks, practices mindfulness exercises, and ensures she logs off at a reasonable time to enjoy quality time with her family. This work-life integration boosts her overall well-being and enhances her productivity when she is working.


Remote work offers an opportunity for leaders and organizations to redefine productivity to achieve a harmonious work-life balance. By embracing flexible schedules, setting expectations, establishing clear goals, creating designated and inspiring workspace, leveraging technology, practicing time management, and being mindful of self-care, remote workers can thrive and excel beyond the limitations of the traditional 9-5 routine.

As you consider what remote work could look like moving forward, dream outside the cube and consider how the remote work experience can be redefined to enhance productivity for you and your team.

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