15 Tips from Remote Work Experts

04/17/20201 min read
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Amy Meadows
Correspondent for Staffing.com
A writer of organizational history books, Amy Meadows has published 5,000+ articles in publications. She also is an award-winning children's book author.
15 Tips from Remote Work Experts

An unprecedented number of people work from home now amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, the transition happened lightning-fast, with companies and employees scrambling to set up remote systems while trying to maintain productivity. Navigating this new normal can be frustrating and draining, particularly for those who have never worked remotely before.

Toptal, an elite network of the world’s top talent in business, design, and technology, is a fully distributed company with no office at all. We collected these tips from Toptal team members to help new remote workers find their footing and drive innovation in these extraordinary times.

Keep a Routine

Jakub Kaczanowski, Software Developer
Home Office: Adelaide, South Australia
Years Remote: 3

“Have a ‘going to work’ and ‘going home’ routine. Focus on work and avoid home distractions and menial chores. You wouldn’t vacuum or pull out the cordless drill to fix that dodgy cupboard at work. Don’t do it when you work from home either. It can wait until ‘after work’ unless it’s something you’d drop everything for and drive home if you were in an office.”

David Fallows, Graphic Designer
Home Office: Zeddam, Netherlands
Years Remote: 3

“It’s very important to set yourself a ‘commute’ at either end of your working periods. Spend 15 minutes walking outside or sit in your living room reading a book.”

David Abramovich, Online Community Lead
Home Office: Mexico City
Years Remote: 4

“Having a balance of routine and new experiences on a daily basis is key. You need to make your own structure to keep yourself sane. Add in variety each day to not get bored.”

Matei Copot, Software Engineer
Home Office: Bratislava, Slovakia
Years Remote: 5

“Don’t get in the habit of putting off work. Just because you’re home, it doesn’t mean you should be relaxing. Set an alarm for the same time you’d normally start work and arrange your schedule to make sure you’re always working at that time.”

Almir Dzinovic, Senior DevOps Engineer
Home Office: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Years Remote: 5

“One of the important things for me is to get into the work mood. Get up, brush your teeth, get a shower, get dressed, have breakfast—all the things you’d do as if you were actually going to work.”

Stay Productive

Tiago Chilanti, Fullstack Software Developer
Home: Porto Alegre, Brazil
Years Remote: 5

“Know yourself. Understand when you are more productive (morning, afternoon, evening) and try to get most of your work done during this period. I try to get three sessions--two hours each--of really high productivity per day. This makes me almost double as productive than when I worked eight-plus hours in an office.”
Tiago Chilanti, developer at Toptal, sitting at his remote workspace, bright daylight showing through the window behind him
Tiago Chilanti, developer at Toptal, sitting at his remote workspace, bright daylight showing through the window behind him

Gavin Matthews, Senior Product Manager for SaaS B2C
Home Office: Boulder, CO
Years Remote: 5

“Split your tasks up by big (45 minutes) and small (15 minutes) challenges. Pair one 45-minute task with one 15-minute task each hour. Breaks are encouraged during the 15-minute segments. It keeps you productive and sane when you might just keep working on the same task without realizing it, dropping your efficiency.”

Sahin Aliyev, Senior Unity Developer in Game Development
Home Office: Baku, Azerbaijan
Years Remote: 2

“Even if not required or requested by the client, make use of a task management routine that works for you. It can be a piece of software on your device (Todoist, Things), a web app (Trello, Jira), or as simple as writing tasks into your notebook and marking resolved items.”

Use the Right Tech

Victor Teran, UX Designer and Brand Strategist
Home Office: Andorra la Vella, Andorra
Years Remote: 3

“Use different environments for different communications. For external communication, use email. It is more transactional communication—for example, when a provider needs something from you or for customer service or press releases. For internal communication, use Slack or a video service call. It is a more collaborative communication—for example, a brainstorm session to share ideas, input, and output.”

Veselin Dimitrov, Senior AI Software Engineer
Home Office: Sofia, Bulgaria
Years Remote: 3

“Mute the distractions. You definitely need to have good earphones so you can mute all of the noise around you. Full ear headphones are best because in-ear ones are uncomfortable for eight hours per day. I love two Sony models: Sony WH-CH700N and Sony WH-H900N. People think that distractions come from the office and the colleagues, but it could be worse at home. Personalized music for your mood can also make distractions go away.”
A computer chair behind a desk in a home illustrates how keeping a routine and having good habits are important when working remotely

Matheus Teruel Pratta, Full-stack Developer
Home Office: Nova Odessa, Brazil
Years Remote: 3

“Having a backup computer or laptop is always useful, just in case anything goes bad. Laptops are especially useful. You can go anywhere with them, and in some cases even route your mobile internet to it and work without internet or electric power at all.”
A corner desk with computer monitor, headphones, and webcam illustrates how using the right tech can be essential to working remotely

Allen Takatsuka, Engineering Project Manager
Home Office: Trabuco Canyon, CA
Years Remote: 6

“If you are leading a meeting, compensate explicitly for not being able to rely on body language and signals. Pause more frequently than usual to solicit feedback and questions. Hear others out more thoroughly than you might when in the same room. If bandwidth allows, try to use video, which gets everyone more engaged than sitting at a desk blindly with a Bluetooth earpiece.”

Find Your Work-life Balance

Karim Sakhibgareev, Full-stack Developer
Home Office: Porto, Portugal
Years Remote: 4

“Define a dedicated space for work. It should be a separate room or a corner in the room, but it should be a place exclusively for work.”
A remote workplace desk with lamps on because it's dark outside, illustrating the importance of work-life balance

Alexander Kaminski, Software Engineer
Home Office: Warsaw, Poland
Years Remote: 8

“Don’t be afraid of changing your workplace. Put a laptop on the ironing board or windowsill, sit a bit with your dog on the floor, sit next to your kid while they watch cartoons. There is a lot of variety, and you can make use of it. Don’t be afraid to experiment since everyone is different, and one size doesn’t fit all.”
A remote workplace setup showing a monitor, laptop, and iPad on the desk, illustrating the working remotely tip to change up your workspace

Tomislav Modric, Full-stack Web Developer
Home Office: Zagreb, Croatia
Years Remote: 6

“Don’t overwork yourself. If you’ve done your eight (or however many) hours of work, you’re done for the day. Tomorrow is a new day—leave some work for then.”

As remote work becomes the new normal, Staffing.com has created a dedicated space to offer insights and tips. In our Rise of Remote section, you’ll find the Toptal Remote Playbook, articles, podcasts, and live streaming videos with experts in the world of remote work. Visit and subscribe to stay connected.

Further Reading on Staffing.com:

Amy Meadows
Correspondent for Staffing.com
A writer of organizational history books, Amy Meadows has published 5,000+ articles in publications. She also is an award-winning children's book author.