10 Tips for Working From Home
Many people would love to work from home, especially those who deal with the public on a day to day basis or who are introverted and would rather spend their time alone. However, those of us who have found ourselves working from home because of the pandemic know that it’s not all a bed of roses. Yes, there is freedom and you can wear your comfy PJ’s if you want, but there are also distractions, higher chances of burnout, and even dangers to your physical or mental health.
As someone who often works from home, here are 10 things I believe have helped me and may possibly help you make your remote work-life a success:
Create a Designated Workspace – if possible, set aside a room or area of your home that is just for working. If you don’t already have one from your employer, set a work schedule. When your workday is over, leave your workspace and try not to go back in it until the next day. Do the best you can to separate your living area from your work area. This will decrease your chances of burnout.
Set Work/Life Boundaries – this can be a tough one. In a traditional work setting, it can be hard to establish work/life boundaries. Work, family, and friends can all pull at you, vying for your attention. With remote work, that stress can be even worse. If you have to, communicate with your family and friends that just because you work from home doesn’t mean you are always available. When you are “off” work, do your best to unplug. Turn off your work-related notifications or even put those devices away so you can get a break.
Find Your Work Groove – this is how I say: figure out what works for you and makes you the most productive. Does this mean you set specific break times? Do you listen to music while you work? What kind of music helps you concentrate better? Do you wear real pants or pajama pants (this is important 😊)? If you don’t know what helps you be the most productive, try changing some things and figure it out.
Focus/Don’t Waste Time – look, I get it. You work from home and your boss isn’t standing over your shoulder checking your progress. It’s easy to find yourself on Facebook or scrolling through Instagram – maybe even doing laundry or the dishes instead of the work you are being trusted to do. Do your best to stay on task. This could mean you implement a task list like Microsoft Planner or To-Do, or maybe you set aside specific blocks of time to focus on one task and get it done.
Practice Video Chat Etiquette – If you’re in a video meeting, make sure you are presentable and your background is professional. Many video conferencing apps give you the ability to change your background. Change it if everyone might be looking at your messy kitchen table or if you’re outside and there are a lot of distractions. Also, dress for the audience. If you are in a video chat with executives, wear something appropriate. I’m not saying you can’t wear pajama bottoms… but if you are dressed professionally you will feel more professional. You also want to do your best to pay attention. Don’t get up and walk in and out of the screen or make a lot of distracting movements. And the MOST important part… mute yourself when you aren’t talking!
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – be purposeful about your communication so things don’t get misunderstood. Document as much as possible and collaborate when you can. Use the whiteboard function in Teams or other tools that help you and your team collaborate in real-time. Let people know how you feel about a project. Without them being able to see you and/or chat at the coffee pot, it is hard for them to know how you feel about something.
Know Who Does What – defining and communicating responsibilities is a must in remote work. Be clear about who is supposed to perform each task so no work is duplicated. Wasting time because of unclear responsibilities is easy to do when you can’t just walk by someone’s desk and ask what they are working on. Use software like Microsoft Planner to see everyone’s tasks and collaborate effectively.
Connect With Your Team – Use video as much as possible so people can see your face and associate you with an actual human being. Try to chat individually outside of video conferences to get to know your teammates. Maybe plan a type of virtual tea or coffee time where you can just chat and get to know each other better. If other remote workers live close, get together once in a while to talk shop.
Be Seen – along with using video as much as possible, be proactive about reminding your boss and coworkers what you are working on. This may seem annoying, but it is essential for keeping everyone on task and making sure they know you exist 😊. If you have a collaborative tool like Teams, use that so you don’t have to send reminders. Another good practice is to respond quickly to emails or messages so people know you are there.
Take Care of Yourself – working from home can be draining. Make sure you take care of your mental and physical well-being. This might mean making time to walk outside or other physical activity so you aren’t just sitting at your desk all day. Spend time with other human beings when you can. Try not to binge eat just because the kitchen is close. And most important – Stay hydrated!
These are just some things that I have found useful while working remotely. You might find that some of these things work for you, or they don’t. It’s not a one size fits all kind of deal. If you have found other ways of successfully working from home, drop them in the comments below!