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20 Tips for Working from Home

2021-05-25 - Posted by: Admin

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20 Tips for Working from Home

More people than ever are working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you're new to working remotely or just looking to level up, these tips from a remote work pro can help you stay productive and maintain balance.
Starting around March 2020, more people than ever before began working from home, and quite suddenly. Organizations and individuals didn't have time to prepare for remote work or think about the best ways to transition teams, processes, and culture to an online-only environment. No one knew (or yet knows) how long the COVID-19 pandemic and thus mandatory remote work would last.
 

 

1. Maintain Regular Hours

Set a schedule and stick to it...most of the time. Having clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps many remote workers maintain work-life balance. 

That said, one of the best benefits of remote work is flexibility, when the job allows for it. Sometimes you need to extend your day or start early to accommodate someone else's time zone. When you do, be sure to wrap up earlier than usual or sleep in a bit the next morning to make up for it.

 

2. Create a Morning Routine

Deciding you'll sit down at your desk and start work at a certain time is one thing. Creating a routine that guides you into the chair is another.

 

A routine can be more powerful than a clock at helping you get started each day. What in your morning routine indicates you're about to start work? It might be making a cup of coffee before you tackle your to-do list. It might be returning home after a jog or getting dressed. (Wearing pajamas is a work-from-home park for some, but a bad strategy for others.) Look for an existing habit that you have, like brushing your teeth or coming in from a dog walk, to act as your signal. That way, you can tack on the new habit of kicking off your workday.

 

3. Set Ground Rules with the People in Your Space

Set ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space when you work.

 

For example, if you have children who are learning at home or who come home from school while you're still working, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. If you share a space with another adult who's working from home, you may have to negotiate quiet times, meeting times, and any shared equipment, like desks and chairs.

 

4. Schedule Breaks

If you work for an organization, know the policy on break times and take them. If you're self-employed, give yourself adequate time during the day to walk away from the computer screen and phone. A lunch hour and two 15-minute breaks seem to be the standard for full-time US employees. For computer-based work and other sedentary work, it's important to stand up and move to get your blood circulating every so often, at least once an hour. It also helps to move your eyes off screen regularly, even if it's a micro-break of 10-20 seconds.

 

5. Take Breaks in Their Entirety

Don't short-change yourself during breaks, especially your lunch hour or meal break. There are apps, such as TimeOut for Mac and Smart Break for Windows that let you set a schedule for when you'll lock yourself out of your computer. RescueTime also has a pause feature that lets you time 15-minute and one-hour breaks. Don't need any more apps in your life? Set an alarm or timer on your phone, or mind the time with a standard clock. No matter how you track your breaks, make sure to take them in their entirety. For example, if you plan for an hour break and return to your desk after only 40 minutes, walk away for another 20.

 

6. Leave Home

To the extent that it's allowed and safe during the pandemic, get out of the house and move your body. Your body needs movement and blood circulation. Plus, the fresh air and natural light will do you good. Ideally, step outside for at least a short while before, during, and after your working hours.

 

7. Don't Hesitate to Ask for What You Need

If you're employed by a company or organization that supports your work-from-home setup, request the equipment you need as soon as you start working from home, or within a few days of realizing you need something new.

 

8. Keep a Dedicated Office Space

In an ideal world, remote employees would have not only a dedicated office, but also two computers, one for work and one for personal use. It's more secure for the employer, and it lets you do all your NSFW activities in private.

 

9. Maintain a Separate Phone Number

Set up a phone number that you only use for calls with colleagues and clients. It doesn't have to be a landline or a second mobile phone, or even require a SIM card. It can be a VoIP service, such as Google Voice or Skype.

Similar to some of the other tips, having a separate phone number helps you manage your work-life balance.

 

10. Use a VPN

Use a VPN whenever you're connected to a network that you don't control. That includes Wi-Fi at co-working spaces, cafes, libraries, airports, hotels, and so forth. Organizations often have their own VPNs that off-site employees need to access certain servers or websites that store information meant only for internal use. In those cases, you'll also need to use a VPN at home. It's a good idea to get into the habit of leaving your VPN connected as often as possible because it's always safer to have it on than not.

 

11. Socialize With Colleagues

Loneliness, disconnect, and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially for extroverts. Companies with a remote work culture usually offer ways to socialize. For example, they might have channels in a team messaging app, like Slack, for talking about common interests or organizing meet ups for people in the same region.

 

12. "Show Up" to Meetings and Be Heard

Certainly, you'll take part in video conferences and conference calls while working remotely, but it's a good idea to attend optional meetings sometimes, too. Be sure to speak up during meetings so everyone knows you're on the call. A simple, "Thanks, everyone. Bye!" at the close goes a long way toward making your presence known.

 

13. Get Face Time

If your employer is lax about getting you in a room with other employees, ask to have an annual or semi-annual trip in your contract. It could be for annual planning, training, or team building. Or, tack it onto some other business event, such as a yearly fiscal meeting, nearby conference, or office holiday party. Don't wait around for someone to invite you to the office or an event. Be proactive.

 

14. Take Sick Days

When you're not well, take time off. If sick days are part of your compensation package, take the time off that you need. Not taking it is like throwing away money!

 

If you're freelance or self-employed without paid sick time, it can be tempting to power through illnesses and keep working. Remember that for your long-term wellness and productivity, it's best to rest and get better so that you can get back to work at full capacity.

 

15. Look for Training and Learning Opportunities

When you're not in an office with your fellow employees, you might miss out on training and skills development courses that are taught in person. Your company might even forget to add you to its online training courses. It can be tempting to regard this as a dodged bullet, but you might be missing out on an opportunity to learn something useful. Speak up and make sure you're included.

 

16. Over communicate

Working remotely requires that everyone over communicate. Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability often. Don't assume they'll remember. When you finish a project or important task, say so. Over communicating doesn't necessarily mean you have to write a five-paragraph essay to explain your every move, but it does mean repeating yourself. Joke about how you must have mentioned your upcoming vacation six times already, then mention it again.

 

17. Be Positive

Reading tone in written messages is really difficult in all-remote settings. The less face time you have with people, the more an intentionally concise message can come off as terse and short-tempered.

 

In remote work settings, everyone must be positive, to the point where it may feel like you're being overly positive, gushy even. Otherwise, you risk sounding like a jerk. It's unfortunate, but true. So embrace the exclamation point! Find your favorite emoji. You're going to need them: D

 

18. Take Advantage of Your Perks

For two years, I baked a loaf of bread nearly every week. Why? Because I was home and I could. I love baking bread, but you need to be home to tend to it once an hour or so to punch down the dough, shape the loaf, and let it bake. It doesn't take a lot of hands-on time, but you need to be there. When I worked in an office full-time, I struggled to find half a day when I was home to bake.

 

19. Don't Be Too Hard on Yourself or Others

Successful remote employees have a reputation for being extremely disciplined. After all, it takes serious focus to do any full-time job from an unconventional space.

 

That said, everyone lets their attention drift sometimes. If you find yourself working one minute and researching vacation house rentals the next, don't reprimand yourself too harshly. Instead, ask yourself whether people in an office setting do the same thing. If the answer is yes, cut yourself some slack, then get back to work. Above all, remember, you need to balance productivity with self-care; otherwise, you risk burning out.

 

20. End Your Day with a Routine

Just as you should start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the close of the workday. It might be a sign-off on a business messaging app, an evening dog walk, or an at-home yoga class. Something as simple as shutting down your computer and turning on a favorite podcast will do. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of working hours.

 

 

 




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