For over a year now, many Americans have had to adjust to working from home. Home offices were set up quickly, daily routines were adjusted, and work expectations shifted. Life is slowly beginning to return to pre-Covid times with some companies opening up offices again while others are embracing remote workers. Below you will find some tips and tricks to help set yourself up to be successful working from home.
Designate a Workspace or Home Office
Being able to separate work from home is a big challenge when working remotely. One easy way to do this is to establish a work space that allows you to do just that. Pick an area in your home to set up your workstation. Many people turn an unused bedroom or closet into an office; however, not everyone has that sort of space. If space is tight, think outside the box to create a dedicated workspace, like a wall in your living room or bedroom. Invest in furniture that accommodates your needs. Standing desks are becoming increasingly popular these days. Recently we invested in an Uplift Desk for my husband that allows him to adjust to a sitting or standing position throughout the day. Amazon has many options to accommodate for every budget ranging from $99-1,000. While it may be tempting to grab a chair from the kitchen table, this is not a long term solution. You will need a chair that supports appropriate posture while also providing comfort. Be creative with your space; paint the walls, add shelves as a way to create storage space, add a splash of color, and use art and pictures to personalize the area. You want to create an area that not only encourages productivity, but is inviting as well.
Dress for the Job
While it may be appealing to stay in your PJs all day, it does not help promote productivity. Some days it will be easier to dress down, especially if you know you will not be participating in any video conferences. On days when you have important meetings scheduled, dress as if you were in the office. This will help you mentally prepare for those meetings to ensure you are presenting your best self.
Establish a Transition Routine
Start your day as you would if you were going to the office. Set an alarm, eat breakfast, and make yourself (or go get) coffee. While you no longer have a morning commute, you can still use the time to listen to your favorite podcast or music, browse the news, or read a book. By mimicking your commute routine, your brain is transitioning to its “work mode”.
Don’t ignore the end of the day, either. Try not to jump from answering important work emails to making dinner for the family. Give yourself a buffer to allow your brain to decompress. Whether it be taking your dog for a long walk, meditating for 15 minutes, or finishing up the podcast you started in the morning; this transition allows your brain to reset and relax from work. Building in these transitions help you mentally separate work life from home life.
Establish Work Hours
To be successful at home, set and maintain work hours that are most beneficial to you and your job. Make to-do lists of things you hope to achieve each day and stick to it. Set your day up to handle the different aspects of your job, such as using the first hour of each day to respond to emails or blocks of time to focus on projects you are working on. The more structure and routine you have built into the day, the less likely it will be that time will get away from you. The more you hold yourself accountable for the work you produce, the less likely it will be you feel the need to keep extending your hours.
It may be tempting to work through lunch or eat while working, but doing so will typically cause you to be less productive in the long run. Humans are not machines nor should you treat yourself like one. Taking breaks throughout the day to eat lunch, go for a short walk around the neighborhood, meditate, read, or have a 15-minute practice guitar session gives your brain small breaks to be able to handle the next part of the day. If you are someone who knows you get sidetracked easily, set yourself a timer to avoid the chance to get too distracted.
While working in an office setting, small breaks and interruptions occur naturally throughout the day. You may stop by a friend’s desk on the way to the restroom, chat with the security guard on your way in, or, perhaps, gossip around the watercooler. We are social creatures, even the most introverted of us, and need to feel a sense of belonging. These small interactions throughout the day do just that. Utilizes Slack, Zoom, or any other company approved messaging system to keep up with your coworkers. Continue to ask them about their weekend, ask to see pictures from their recent vacation, and take part in small talk when they occur online. If possible, try to meet up with your coworkers every few weeks for a cup of coffee, lunch or happy hour after work.
Perhaps your company and coworkers are spread out across the globe. In that case, take the opportunity to work remotely from coffee shops or a local co-working space where others tend to work. You’ll meet like-minded virtual employees and feel like you’re a part of a group, even though you are working for different companies.
Working at home has many perks, like being able to grab your favorite hot beverage or Powerbar whenever you like. Your dog becomes your office mate, complete with their own special bed for your space or, perhaps, your cat has taken up residence in that sunny spot on your floor. Setting yourself up for success by establishing routines and structure will allow you to separate your home life from your work life. Continue to socialize with your coworkers and take advantage of co-working spaces as well. Embrace the advantage of remote working, while also taking steps to combat those tricky areas.