Tips for Working From Home
If you're new to working from home, the following tips can help keep your productive and engaged.
Create a Workspace for yourself
Working from home requires a dedicated work space. Ensure your work space is clutter-free with the essentials you need to get your work done. If you don't have adequate equipment, inquire with your employer to see if they will provide some.
Maintain Regular Hours
Set a schedule, and stick to it. Having clear guidelines for when you are working and when your not helps many remote workers maintain work-life balance.
Create a Routine
A new routine for working from home can help ensure you stay focused and helps your mind adjust and body adapt more easily to working from home. For example, a common routine is wake up, shower, and get ready the same way you would if you were physically going to your workplace - grab a coffee and enter your workspace. At noon or at lunch, step away from your workspace, returning after lunch for the remainder of your day.
Setting expectations and ground rules with other people in your home or who share your space for when you work. If you have children, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. Also be sure your in a place where pets won't be a distraction.
Working from home comes with some benefits - namely that you don't need to physically be at your workplace - but that extra flexibility and freedom is tempered with more responsibility. You must ensure that you are available at all times during your working shift, and that your boss or management can reach you immediately. If not, you risk a presumption that you are taking your work from home for granted and not actively engaged in work.
Know your company's 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.
Take Breaks in Their Entirety
Don't short-change yourself during breaks, especially your lunch hour. You can use an app, such as TimeOut for Mac and Smart Break for Windows, to lock yourself out of your computer for 60 minutes. Or you can just launch a simple clock or timer on the screen when you take a break. If you return to your desk after only 40 minutes, walk away for another 20.
To the extent that it's allowed and safe where you are during the COVID-19 outbreak, get out of the house, provided you can maintain social distancing of course. Your body needs to move. Plus, the fresh air and natural light will do you good. Take a walk. Weed the garden. You get the picture.
"Show Up" to Virtual Meetings and Be Heard
Certainly, you'll take part in video conferences and conference calls. Be sure to speak up during the meeting so everyone knows you're on the call. A simple, "Thanks, everyone. Bye!" at the close of a meeting will go a long way toward making your presence known.
Working remotely requires you to over communicate. Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability often. 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.
Be succinct and clear in your messages. When you work remotely full-time, you must be positive, to the point where it may feel like you're being overly positive. Otherwise, you risk sounding like a jerk. It's unfortunate, but true. Be careful in that your remote communications often can be misinterpreted - especially if they are short messages or use multiple exclamation
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 a 6 p.m. 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.