The following is a guest post from Kayleigh Alexandra at MicroStartups.org

By now, many of us have become accustomed to the concept of working from home. We’ve transformed our set up, we’ve found the most comfortable chair in the house, and we’re logging in remotely every morning.

While many people are looking forward to getting back in the office, some companies are looking at remote working as a long-term solution. As the coronavirus pandemic continues across the globe, working from home will become the norm, and even after the pandemic, many companies are slated to let employees continue working remote forever.

If that’s the case, how do you retain the high standards you keep in the office? And how can companies keep things running smoothly with people scattered around a city or country? Here are five ways people and businesses can streamline their remote work processes.

Set daily goals during the remote work process

Workdays often go a lot smoother, and faster, when they’re planned out in advance.

You never know what is going to pop up and derail your flow. Having a set schedule and specified daily goals is a brilliant way to bring some normalcy to your work-from-home situation and make sure your environment doesn’t hamper your ability to thrive.

At the beginning of each day, write out your tasks and the amount of time you expect to spend on them. Not only will this reduce gaps in your day, but it allows you to track what you’ve already done and how much time you’ve spent on it. This data can be used to improve your personal workflow and that of your team.

Project management and time tracking tools like Hive are particularly important investments for businesses to make at this difficult time. They allow you to plan out your days digitally and track team to-dos, limiting confusion on deliverables and improving efficiency.

Overall, working from home is distracting, and while we all need breaks throughout the day, it’s important to keep yourself focused on key tasks to continue with remote work progress.

Use and experiment with free resources

The early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic saw a slew of companies making their tools free or accessible for a limited time. Whether it was creative programs or communication tools, businesses suddenly had more shiny toys to play around with than ever before.

In this uncertain time, when you’re trying to transition real-life workflow methods online with almost no planning, it’s important to make use of all the free resources available. They can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend on tasks, and is a great way to identify potential improvements to your in-office workflow.

These resources can also help fill in the gaps where remote working has made life difficult.

Creative planning sessions, for example, are harder to do through video chats. Rather than spending hours trying to ideate like you would in the conference room, don’t be afraid to let free resources and guides dictate your creative strategies. Cutting out inconvenient processes can massively streamline your company workflow and helps expedite work.

Take advantage of all the free trials you can get a hold of. There’s no point committing to one video conferencing app when three or four alternatives are free to use. Some will be more beneficial to a smaller team while others won’t have the interface to support larger ones. Don’t feel the need to settle on the first one you find. There are hundreds of free tools out there for all types of work, so take advantage of that.

Constant communication between colleagues

Teams work better together when they can communicate.

You probably love your office and the environment it creates. Maybe it’s open floor plan, allowing for spontaneous ideation sessions between teams. Maybe you have a daily meeting where staff get together and hash out approaches to the problems that lie ahead. These are all essential parts of your organization, and it’s essential you replicate that to the best of your ability during this the remote work process.

It’s important that separate teams, if not the businesses as a whole, can get together once every day and understand what everyone is working on. This helps prioritize tasks and initiatives. A great way to foster communication is through the Hive and Zoom integration, where you can start a Zoom meeting from a Hive chat.

You should use intranet and internal communication tools to create a constant dialogue between colleagues. No one has the time to wait for emails for each individual task — modern businesses embracing remote working need to create systems where they can both delegate tasks seamlessly and keep an eye on how people are progressing with them.

Communication is also just great for morale. Remote working can be a very lonely existence, especially considering the current circumstances. Coworkers should be encouraged to chat throughout the day and check-in, whether you’re in a formal meeting or a more casual chat — it’s imperative to ensure continued success throughout the remote work process.

Put health first, always

Remote working cannot be an excuse for a lapse in concern about employee wellbeing. After all, a happy and healthy workforce is a productive one.

Streamlining your workforce remotely means making sure they have the right resources and environment to do their job properly. Find a way to get them all of their equipment they would usually have in the office.

Employees have a responsibility to themselves to make sure working from home doesn’t lead to detrimental habits either. Make sure you’re working in a well-lit area and taking regular breaks to drink water, get away from the screen, and stretch.

Be transparent throughout the remote work process

The key to a successful workflow is knowing what’s going well.

Just like communication and tracking your tasks helps you to improve, being transparent with your team and creating common goals helps keep everyone on the same page.

How can you expect to streamline the remote work process if part of the team is in the dark about what is and what isn’t going well?

From management to the newest employee, transparency is crucial to making remote working a success for everyone. Without people around you to see these processes in action, there’s no way of knowing whether or not they’re working.

Remote working is the hot topic in the business world these days. No one is sure how long the majority of offices will find themselves in this situation, or how this experience will transform future approaches to it. However, these tips are vital to consider if you want to keep your workflow streamlined and successful for the foreseeable future.