For years, remote work has been on the rise. It allows employees to work from home (and many other locations) instead of commuting, and it allows businesses to reduce their office overheads. In the middle of the COVID-19 issue, however, it has taken on a new urgency, as many enterprises have quickly converted to permitting or mandating employees to work from home in order to safeguard workers and communities.
Many office workers have been caught off guard by the realities of a whole new manner of working as a result of this quick transformation. For the past five years, I’ve been working remotely and writing about it for nearly as long. From Airbnbs, coffee shops, coworking spaces, automobiles, and my own house, I’ve worked. These spaces all have one thing in common: distractions.
Working from home takes some getting used to, but you’ll get better at it week by week. Understanding a few key requirements will help you speed up the process and develop a work environment and schedule that suits your needs. If you’re new to remote work or want to be more productive outside of a traditional office setting, I’ve compiled a list of my top suggestions to help you work more effectively from home.
Teach Those Around You
You’ll have to teach folks around you what it means to work from home with you. Be patient, yet forthright. Every person you share your home with is suddenly a coworker. Children, dogs, parents, spouses, and anybody else with whom you share your life have become accustomed to you being available at all times. You must establish boundaries, or they will do so for you. Ascertain that everyone in your household is aware of when you are working and what this entails for them.
If you allow it, you can be available to anyone at any time now that you work from home. Children must learn that you cannot drop everything to play anytime they want, pets must learn that you cannot take them outside twenty times a day, and your older loved ones must realise that you will not be taking personal calls at any moment. They may appear to be acceptable diversions, and you may find it difficult to say no to your friends and family, but every interruption you confront diminishes your productivity dramatically.
Create a private workplace for yourself with a closed door if you can, so you can accept calls or focus on your work. Setting clear working hours will assist you and everyone else establish a routine for when you are and are not working. Set your own hours if your company doesn’t require you to work particular hours during the day. It doesn’t have to be the traditional 9-5, as some people are more productive late at night or early in the morning, but consistency is beneficial.
Invest in the Tools You Need for Success
Your home’s equipment has a direct impact on your comfort, happiness, and productivity. You must build a productive workspace that fulfils your needs, even if it is only temporary. Make sure your workspace is welcoming. Do you have everything you’ll need? A laptop alone may not be sufficient depending on the type of work you conduct. Consider how you work in your usual office setting.
Invest in a mouse for your home office if you’re used to using one. Get one of those as well if you’re used to utilising an external keyboard. When working remotely, there’s a genuine risk of RSI and other overuse problems because chairs, desks, and displays are frequently at the incorrect height for safe and comfortable work. Simple products like a laptop stand can transform your laptop into a desktop-like setting that can improve your overall health.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make your workstation more appealing.
Laptop supports exist in a variety of designs, sizes, and price points, including budget-friendly ones. Simply raise the height of your computer and accessories with a stack of books or an Amazon delivery box to turn any desk or table into a standing workstation for free. Other low-cost options will give you something a little more durable and easier to keep.
Get Outside Regularly
When it comes to physical activity, you’ll have to adjust to a new reality. You walk and move around a lot less when you work from home. While it’s convenient that your office is only a few feet away, it’s not good for your health. Most of us already sit for a significant portion of our days, which can contribute to a variety of health problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Working from home can increase your sedentary behaviour if you’re not careful. When you take a break, don’t check your phone right away. Instead, go for a walk to obtain some much-needed fresh air and exercise. It’s easy to fall into the habit of never going outside when you don’t have to, but fresh air, regardless of the season, has a slew of health benefits and can help you work more efficiently.
Finally, if you have any fitness trackers laying around, utilise them. If you’ve been sitting for a while, a Fitbit or Apple Watch can remind you to get up and walk around during the day.
Prepare Your Meals in Advance
It’s tempting to create more complex dinners for yourself now that you have complete access to your own kitchen. While a home-cooked meal created from scratch would be great, it would also mean that you would be spending your free time cooking rather than eating and resting. Breaks are an essential component of any workday.
Allowing our brains to rest is essential. Cooking a large, fancy dinner for yourself or your family for lunch does not provide the mental or physical rest you require. Simple lunches, such as those you’d have if you were headed to the office, are best. If you want a home-cooked supper, plan ahead of time so you don’t have to interrupt your workday to cook.
On weekends, try prepping meals the night before or in large batches. If you’re working with kids at home, make their lunches ahead of time as well. If your kids are old enough, get them involved in preparing their own meals. Keep everyone’s sandwiches simple so that lunchtimes are actually a break rather than another obstacle to overcome.
Beware of Your Phone
Self-management is challenging. There will be no one to keep an eye on you to make sure you don’t check your phone or get caught up in the never-ending news cycle. As I previously stated, when you work from home, any interruption, no matter how minor, has an influence on your productivity. If your job doesn’t need you to use your phone, keeping it in another room is the easiest and most effective approach.
Check in just during specific break periods, and otherwise keep it hidden. Consider what you truly need to access if you do use your phone for business. Is it only phone calls and texts? Turn off your cell phone’s data and Wi-Fi. If you need access to apps as well, make sure your notifications are well-managed. There are a plethora of tempting temptations on our phones.
It may appear to be a harmless update, but before you know it, you’ll have lost track of time and spent half an hour browsing the internet. Consider each notification you receive carefully. Is it something you absolutely must see right away, or could you wait until lunch or after your workday is finished to view it? If it’s the latter (which it usually is), turn off the notifications while you’re working.
Both iOS and Android include “Do Not Disturb” capabilities that allow you to instantly turn off notifications while allowing just certain exceptions. These can be activated on demand or on a timetable that corresponds to your workday. Similar applications for MacOS and Windows exist to assist you avoid mindless internet browsing and stop online distractions.
Apple’s Screen Time feature (and Android’s Digital Wellbeing) can also help you keep track of your phone usage by tracking your behaviours and showing you how much time you spend on it and which apps you use. You can then set appropriate limits, either globally or for individual apps.