Get Down to Business: Tips for Working from Home Effectively
Due to the current crisis, employers are advising people to work from home. New to the work from home lifestyle? It certainly doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Working remotely provides flexibility and perks that help you stay balanced and productive.
Sometimes, you need to test what works best for you, such as figuring out your most productive times, how to prevent loneliness and what counts as a real break. Working remotely doesn't have to be a struggle. Here are expert tips for working from home, so you can be your most productive self. You won't even miss the office after you master working from home.
Should You Change Your Regular Hours?
If your usual office hours were from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., stick to that time frame while you're working from home. Try to keep things as normal as possible to prevent another snag in your routine.
See What You Can Borrow from the Office
Many companies allow their employees to take their laptops and chargers home. However, if you frequently use your mouse and keyboard, throw them in the bag too, so working from home will feel like being in the office. It doesn’t hurt to ask for other equipment to make the transition more comfortable, like monitors, chairs or printers.
Get Your Tech Together
Figure out what your team relies on for communication before going home, and make sure it works. Many remote workers use software like Slack (for messaging), Microsoft Teams (for email) and Zoom (for video conferencing). FYI, it's very important to know how to use the mute button and the video camera.
Form a Strict “Get Down to Business” Routine
What will get you to buckle down and begin work? Many folks recommend forming a good routine that will get you in front of the computer. It could involve setting your alarm, making a nice, big cup of coffee and getting in a quick workout.
To Dress Up or Not to Dress Up?
When you work from home, you can wear whatever you want. However, when it comes to productivity, there's been a long debate about whether you should wear pajamas or dress up. If you asked founder and creative director Misha Nonoo, she'd say her go-to work from home outfit is matching sweatsuits.
Lay Down the Law with the People in Your Home
Set expectations with other people in your home. If you have children, parents, siblings or roommates, let them know that you need to work remotely, and they need to respect your space and time. Remind them you're not in the office, but that doesn't mean you can do chores, run errands or anything else you normally do when you're at home.
If You Have Kids, Prepare for Battle
Just kidding, but you do want to be ready for distractions. It's hard to get work done with kids at home, especially if you have babies or toddlers. The good news is it's possible to master working from home with a good game plan.
Schedule Real Breaks
Understand your employer's break policies and put them to use. It's easy to forget to take rest periods while sitting in front of your computer screen or working on your phone. Therefore, it's a good idea to actually schedule your breaks throughout the day, just like you would at work.
Make Your Space Creative but Functional
In early March, Twitter users shared their creative and hilarious workspace setups, proving almost anything can be used as a desk. One person used stacks of toilet paper on top of their dining table to create a standing desk. Another person worked from the top of their recycling bin.
A Whole New (Work) World
It would be great if everyone had two separate computers or laptops, one for work and one for personal purposes. However, that's not always the case. Plus, if you do have both devices, your desk will become overcrowded and uncomfortable.
When You Have a Hard Time Choosing a Solid Workspace....
It's a good idea to avoid working on your bed or couch because these places are associated with leisure time. A great dedicated workspace is one where you can close and lock the door. This is excellent for productivity, but it isn't realistic for everyone.
Find Ways to Get Fresh Air
Governments and health experts suggest social distancing during the time companies are asking employees to work from home. That sounds like you're going to be indoors a lot, right? Well, it's not a good idea to be holed up in your workspace the entire day.
Don't Just Sit Around
When you're working at home, it's easy to stick to a chair all day. However, sitting all the time isn't healthy at home or at the office. If working on your feet is your preference, invest in a standing desk (or create your own custom standing desk). Also, switch up the scenery, but make sure you can still focus.
How to Figure Out Your Most Productive Time of Day
Tackle your harder tasks during your most productive hours. According to various reports, employees are the most motivated and productive in the morning. After lunch hour, people are less excited and focused. However, your peak time to accomplish more work might be different than someone else's.
Board the VPN Train
Virtual private networks, a.k.a. VPNs, give you extra online protection when you're connected to a Wi-Fi network that you don't own. This includes Wi-Fi at libraries, cafes and airports. VPNs are also great for when you're at home.
Have a (Work) Game Plan
When you're in the moment, it takes time to figure out your tasks throughout the workday. Unfortunately, that may cause you to forget what you need to do next and take time away from actually getting things done. Plan out your day with a list of all your assignments before you dive in. It'll save you time and effort.
Socialize. Socialize. Socialize.
It's common to feel lonely and isolated while working remotely. For extroverts, the situation may be even rougher. Don't worry, you can still communicate with your co-workers without physically being together. For instance, regularly check in with your team through email, chat or video calls.
Add a Business Line to Your Cell Phone
Keep your work world and personal world separate. That means using your home phone or mobile phone for personal purposes only. For colleagues or clients from work, create a different phone number. The good news is you don't need another landline, mobile device or SIM card.
The Right Music Can Help
Music has the power to affect your mood and mind, so why not take advantage of its effects to boost your productivity? Not every type of music will make you work effectively. You have to add music that matches your work rhythm.
Working from home may seem like a great time to make progress on house chores. However, trying to accomplish work and housework simultaneously creates issues. You'll be more distracted and less productive. Doing chores during breaks might backfire too. You'll be tempted to finish them instead of getting back to work on time.
Take Real Sick Days
When you're sick, you avoid going to the office to spread germs and infect others. You won't risk getting anyone else sick, and you can still get some work done if you work from home. However, if you're not feeling well, denying yourself a real sick day isn't a good idea.
Working remotely means there's room for miscommunication. This is where overcommunication comes in. It doesn't mean you need to write an essay about everything you do, but it does mean giving essential information to prevent confusion — sometimes more than once.
Prepare for a Social Media Diet
It's easier to mess around on social media while working from home. Social media is created to be accessible and consuming, but it can also harm your productivity at work. Experts suggest logging out of every account on your browser and mobile phone.
Try Not to Sound Like a Jerk
It's easy to communicate while working from home, thanks to apps like Slack and Zoom. However, it can also lead to awkward exchanges. Without facial expressions, tone of voice and other signs, your messages are open to interpretation. Staying positive is key.
Take Advantage of Perks
Working from home comes with a lot of perks. You have a more flexible schedule, so schedule breaks and lunch whenever you want. In an office, people sometimes struggle to find silence. Now, you get to control your environment's noise level.
Cut Out Unnecessary Words
Avoid writing 10 sentences when three will do the job. Do you need to practice? Grab a previous email or message that you wrote and tighten it down to almost half the words. You'll see that you can still get the same message across.
There’s a Better Time for Calls
Schedule calls in the afternoon. In the morning, you might be too tired to talk and still powering up to speak to others. Take on solitary assignments in the morning and leave phone calls, meetings and team work for later.
Don't Be Too Hard on Yourself
Remote employees need to be very disciplined to succeed. Working from an unconventional space requires major focus skills. However, everyone zones out from time to time. Don't feel like you're alone. If you put too much pressure on yourself, you may stress out and burn out faster.
How to End Your Workday
Starting your day with a routine is a good idea. Creating a habit at the end of the workday is a nice touch too. This could involve logging out of your company's messaging app, signing out of email applications and shutting down your laptop.
Personalize Your Day
At the end of the day, do whatever is the most effective for you. Sometimes, you won't know what really works until you test it out yourself. Figure out if you're more productive in pajamas or another outfit. See if the dining room table or another space in your house is the best place to keep busy.