When March 2020 came around, a lot more people started working from home than ever before, and they started doing it very quickly. Organizations and people didn’t have time to think about how to move teams, processes, and culture to an online-only world. There was no way to predict how long the COVID-19 pandemic would last, which meant that more people would work from home.
People who start working from home for the first time may have to change their habits and routines to make it work. This could be because of the coronavirus or because they were able to find a job that allowed them to work from home.
I’ve worked 100% from home for more than seven years, most of it before the COVID-19 pandemic even started. I even wrote a book on how to work from home. Many of my friends and coworkers have worked for years from their homes. Each of us faces unique challenges when we work from home because of our different personalities and the type of work we do. Still, we face many of the same problems as people who work from home.
Everyone who works from home has to figure out when to work, where to work, and how to separate work and personal life. What about office equipment, career development, training, and making friends with your coworkers?
It’s hard to work remotely, especially if you work from home most of the time. You have to figure out how to deal with these and other problems. Here are 20 tips for having a better and more productive remote-work life, based on what I’ve learned and what I’ve done myself.
1. Keep Regular Hours.
Set a timetable and try to follow it most of the time. Many people who work from home find that having clear rules about when to work and when to stop helps them keep a good work-life balance.
However, one of the best things about working from home is that you can be more flexible when the job allows it, so long as the job allows it. Sometimes you have to start your day later or stay longer to make sure you can meet someone else’s time zone. Take a nap or finish up early the next day to make up for it.
Apps like RescueTime can help you keep track of how much time you spend each day. They can also help you figure out when you’re most productive and when you don’t work as hard. To make things easier for yourself, think about when you’re most likely to get hard work done and try to protect those hours. For example, if you work best between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., don’t have meetings at that time.
2. Make a Morning Routine.
One thing is to say that you’ll work at your desk at a certain time. Another way to get into the chair is to make a routine that helps you get there.
A routine can be more powerful than a clock when it comes to getting you going each day. Your morning routine should show that you’re about to start work by what you do before you get up. Making coffee might be the first thing on your to-do list. It could be after a jog or getting ready to go out. Putting on pajamas while you work at home is a perk for some people, but it’s not a good idea for others. People who brush their teeth or come home from a walk with their dog can use this as their signal. That way, you can add on the new habit of starting your workday early to your list.
I say “morning routine,” but not everyone who works from home has a 9-5 job. At another time of the day, you might have a “getting started” routine that helps you get started. However, look for a habit you already have and try to start your work day after it.
3. Make Rules for the People in Your Space.
Set rules with people who live with you or work with you.
Children who are learning at home or who come home from school while their parents are still at work need clear rules about what they can and can’t do. As an adult who works from home, you may have to work out quiet times, meeting times, and any shared equipment that you both use, like desks and chairs.
Another thing to keep in mind is that just because you’re home and can let service people into the house or look after your pets doesn’t mean your family should think you always will. If that’s how you want to split up the domestic work, that’s fine. If you just do it because you’re home, you might feel like you’re being taken advantage of, and your productivity might go down.
4. Plan a break.
If you work for a company, find out how many breaks you get and take them. If you work for yourself, set aside enough time during the day to get away from your computer and phone. People who work full-time in the United States are likely to have a lunch hour and two 15-minute breaks. At least once an hour, you should get up and move around to get your blood moving. It also helps to move your eyes off the screen, even if it’s just for a few seconds.
5. Take breaks in their whole length.
Make sure you don’t skimp on your breaks, especially your lunch hour or meal break.
If you want to lock yourself out of your computer at a certain time, there are apps that can help you do that. These apps are called TimeOut for Mac and Smart Break for Windows. As an added bonus, RescueTime also lets you set 15-minute and hourly breaks. Apps aren’t important to you. Check the time with a standard clock. You could also set an alarm on your phone or set a timer on your phone. Take breaks no matter how you record them. People who take an hour-long break but only walk away for 40 minutes should walk away for another 20.
6. Go home.
As much as possible and safe during the pandemic, get outside and move your body as much as possible. You need to move your body and get your blood moving. As a bonus, the fresh air and natural light will be good for you too. Before, during, and after work, you should go outside for at least a short time.
People who work in traditional office settings, too, should follow these same rules. Every day during work hours, you should leave the building at least once.
Personal and local conditions might allow you to go to cafes and libraries to break up the monotony of being at home. That’s great, but the most important thing is to leave your house, get some fresh air, and move.
Public places aren’t the only way to get away from your alone workspace. Take a stroll. Then, weed the garden. Sit on the porch. You get the idea.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
It’s important to ask for the equipment you need as soon as you start working from home, or within a few days of figuring out that you need something new.
People need to know that you will ask for what you need to do your job well early on. These might be things like the right monitor, keyboard, mouse, chair, desk, printer, software, and so on, but they could also be things you need. Organizations that have a lot of people who work from home often have money for home office equipment. Ask what it is and how often it’s changed out. Another thing to ask is if there’s an agreement to loan money or who will pay for the return of old equipment. It’s possible for people who work from home to get help from a consultant to make sure their workspaces are set up in an ergonomic way.
To get what you need while working from home, ask for what you want, but be willing to make some reasonable trade-offs. You may not be able to buy a new office chair and desk from the store right now. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you can get a mouse, keyboard, laptop riser, and a cushion for your back for less than $200. There are also cheap and easy ways to make your home office better.
8. Keep a Separate Office Space.
People who work from home should also have two computers, one for work and one for personal use in an ideal world. It’s safer for the employer, and it lets you do all of your NSFW activities in your own place.
It’s not always possible to keep two computers at home, and not everyone has a spare room for an office. Instead, set aside a desk or table space and some tools for work. So, when your laptop is connected to the screen and keyboard, it’s work time. In your lap, that’s your own time. You might even want to set up a separate account for work (or school). Making even small differences between work time and personal time helps your brain know when you’re off the clock, which helps you have a better work-life balance.
9. Keep a Separate Phone Number.
You should set up a phone number that you only use for calls with your coworkers and clients. The phone doesn’t even have to be a landline or have a second SIM card to work. Google Voice or Skype could be a VoIP service.
Having a separate phone number, like some of the other tips, helps you keep a good work-life balance.
Intend to use a VPN?
In situations where you’re not in charge of the network, use a VPN. All of these places have Wi-Fi. They include co-working spaces (such as coffee shops), libraries, airports, and hotels. An off-site employee may need a VPN to get to certain servers or websites that only the company can see. Then, you will also need to use a VPN at home. The best thing to do is to get used to leaving your VPN on all the time. It’s better to have it on than not.
VPNs are one way to keep your data safe when you work from home. There are other ways to keep your data safe, too. There is one more thing you should know about VPNs: When you’re connected to a company’s network, your boss might be able to see what you’re doing. So don’t watch porn through a corporate VPN.
11. Have fun with your coworkers.
Loneliness, disconnect, and isolation are common problems for people who work from home, especially people who are more outgoing. Companies with a remote work culture usually have ways for people to get together. In a team messaging app, like Slack, they might have channels where people can talk about common interests or plan meetups for people in the same area.
Find out how much interaction you need to feel connected and included, then figure out how much interaction you need to get. Give some interactive experiences a try even if you are very introverted and don’t like to socialize. This way, if you ever want to have them, you’ll be ready to have them. If you work for a company that doesn’t have a lot of people who work from home, you might have to be more proactive about building relationships.
As good as team messaging apps are for socializing, they can also be a lot of work. Check out these tips on how not to get overwhelmed by Slack.
12. Attend meetings and make your voice be heard.
As a rule, you’ll have to take part in video conferences and conference calls when you work from home. But it’s also a good idea sometimes to go to optional meetings. When you’re in a meeting, make sure to speak up so everyone knows you’re on the call. A simple, easy-to-follow guide “Everyone, thanks. Hey! “at the end, you make yourself known.
In our story, we show how you can quickly learn how to use Zoom Meetings if your company uses it for video conferencing. These are the best Zoom Tips for a Locked-Down World.
13. Face time
If your employer doesn’t want to put you in a room with other people, ask to have a trip every year or every two years in your contract. For example, it could be used to plan, train, or build a team. When it comes to business, you could add it to a meeting, conference, or holiday party that is already taking place. Make your own plans and don’t wait for someone else to invite you to the office or a party. Take charge and do your best.
For people who have to work from home but want to cut down on face-to-face contact, set up a video call with your coworkers or boss once a week to check-in. If you need to keep check-in meetings short, don’t be afraid of it! Sometimes, all it takes is a five-minute conversation to stay in touch with your friends and family.
14. Use Sick Days.
When you’re sick, take a break. If you get sick days as part of your pay, use them. Not taking it is like giving away money! It’s not worth it!
If you work for yourself and don’t get paid sick time, it can be tempting to work through sicknesses and keep going to work. Make sure that for your long-term health and productivity, you should rest and get better so that you can get back to work at full strength.
15. Keep an eye out for training and learning chances.
When you don’t work in the same place as your coworkers, you might not be able to take training and skill-building courses that are taught in person. A lot of people get forgotten about by their employers. They might not even add them to their online training courses. Seeing this as a good thing could make you miss out on a chance to learn something important. Speak up and make sure you’re part of the group.
Training that comes from the top down isn’t the only thing you can get. You can get online or in-person courses, training, and coaching as well. Then, there are also a lot of websites that teach business soft skills, computer programming, software skills, and other things. Remote companies often have money to pay for people to learn and improve their skills. You can ask if your group could add it.
In non-pandemic times, people who work 100% from home might look for learning opportunities that are taught at the organization’s headquarters or near the place where they work. In this way, you can get both training and face time with your coworkers in the same day.
16. Don’t over communicate with your friends and family.
Working from home means that everyone needs to talk too much.
You should tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and where you’re going about it a lot. Don’t think they’ll remember. When you finish a project or a big task, say so! There’s no need to write an entire five-paragraph essay to explain everything you do. Over communicating doesn’t mean you have to say the same thing over and over. Joke about how you must have talked about your vacation six times already, then talk about it again.
17. Being positive
A lot of people find it hard to read the tone of written messages in all-remote situations. Less face time with people makes it more likely that you will send a short message that isn’t meant to be that way.
It’s important to be positive when you work from home, even though it may seem like you’re being too happy. Otherwise, you could sound like a jerk. It’s a shame, but it’s true. So use the exclamation point! Is there an emoji that you like the most? You’ll need them:D
18. When you have a lot of money, you should take advantage of it.
For a long time, I’ve made a loaf of bread almost every week, and usually during the workweek. Why? Because I was at home, I could. There are a lot of steps to making bread, and you need to be home every hour or so to punch down and shape the dough. You also need to let it bake. A lot of hands-on work isn’t required, but you need to be there to do it yourself. A lot of times when I worked full-time, I didn’t have enough time to bake.
Having the chance to work from home has its benefits. Make the most of them. You should get it.
19. Don’t be too hard on yourself or other people. This is important.
Successful people who work from home are known for being very disciplined. After all, it takes a lot of concentration to do any full-time job from a weird place.
There are times when people let their minds wander, but everyone does it at least once in a while. Work one minute, look for vacation house rentals the next and don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead, think about whether people in an office do the same thing. No? Then give yourself a break and get back to work. Always remember that you need both work and self-care. Otherwise, you could burn out.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a good time to show our co-workers, clients, and bosses that we are kind and forgiving. We should do the same thing all the time. During a global pandemic, there is a lot of stress and worry. In life and at home, you may not know what another person is going through or how they feel about their job. Keep this in mind. Give them a break.
20. At the end of the day, make sure you have a routine.
To start your day off right, make a habit of doing the same thing every day. Depending on the app, it could be an end to a business message or a walk with your dog in the evening. The easiest thing you can do is shut down your computer and listen to your favorite podcast while you do something else. Whatever you do, do it every time you finish work to show that it’s time to go home.
21. Make It Yours
Find out what works best for you. It can be easy to figure out the answer sometimes, but other times you might need some ideas from other remote workers who are in the same situation as you. There is a group of people who are there for you, whether you find them in your organization’s Slack channel or online through blogs or Twitter. Take into account that you might need to change your routine every now and then so that it doesn’t become too “routine.”
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