Remote working has been strongly on the rise over the past few years. And those who relay mainly to a computer for their work will likely be no stranger to remote working. But for most, this might have been an occasional day working from home or maybe one or two days a week at most.
This time it’s different as it is not only a few days. There are now more and more companies starting to close their offices full-time and asking their staff to work from home instead. As for how long this will be the case is not clear but honestly this could really drag on for a longer period.
Having worked remotely for several years now has thought me some important lessons how to organize my work effectively.
Below, I have put together six useful tips how to effectively work from home.
Build a routine and stick to it
Working from home does take a lot of self-discipline as it comes with all sorts of distractions. There is the dishwasher that needs to be reloaded, your laundry that needs to be done and you might even get temped to turn on some music or the TV.
If you want to work from home efficiently, it is important to eliminate this distractions and instead build a routine that will allow you to create space for both your professional and personal time at home.
Working from home means you do not have that physical commute that otherwise helps you to mentally prepare you to get into ‘work mode’ and to turn off that mode once you leave your workplace.
What I found over the years is that it is really important to build a routine that helps you to go from private to professional and vice versa while working from home.
Don’t go out of the bed and switch on your computer. Instead, have a cup of coffee first, read some news and maybe go out of the house for a short while before you start working.
In the evening (or whenever your workday is finished), don’t keep your laptop running until late, or continue to respond to work related phone calls. Instead find something that will help you to switch off from work. That could be going out for a short walk again or any other task that will signal your brain you are done with work for the day.
Dress for your workday
Honestly, no one really stays in pajamas all day even when working from home. Whilst you may sometimes hear those claims, the people I know working from home (and that are quite a few) will not wear their pajamas all day long.
That said, it might be tempting not to bother too much what you wear and you might also forgo styling for work when you are at home.
I usually wear a pair of jeans and a nice top or shirt. I also make a point to have my hair done.
It is definitely OK to revert to a more relaxed style when working from home. However, you should not make the mistake working from home means no one will see you all day long.
Indeed, technology today is pretty advanced and working from home you will still need to connect to others. This could mean a Skype call to discuss a project with a colleague or even with a client. When this happens, you will certainly not look like you have just got out of your bed.
Stay in touch and communicate with your co-workers
In times of the corona virus, it is not mostly freelancers working from home. Many office workers are now doing their job remotely over a longer period.
This means, this is quite different than an occasional day working from home when you might be able to schedule to do some work that does not require you to get in touch with your co-workers.
Instead, now more than ever it is important to stay in contact as much as possible with your co-workers.
Therefore, communicate as much as you can. For example, schedule regular conference calls with your wider team or instead of continuously exchanging emails about the tasks you need to do, make the point to have a call via Skype.
Make sure to inform others what you are currently doing, what tasks are still on your list and what tasks you have already finished. Also, make sure to know the same thing about your co-workers.
If you have to work on tasks that require co-operation with your co-workers, work out a communication schedule including regular phone calls to check on progress, who exactly is doing what and where you can help each other.
Have a designated place to work
Doing stuff from your bed, sitting on the couch or working at the kitchen table? You will quickly realize this is not great to work effectively.
That said, not everybody has the space to set up an office at home. Yet you should nevertheless carve out a dedicated space where you are comfortable to work.
This might be some corner currently not used where you can set up a dedicated desk. Even if it is only a small one that only has space for your laptop.
This is even more important if you are working from a home that you are sharing with someone else (your partner, spouse or your kids). Staying in your designated working space will signal the others you are working and should really be treated like ‘not being at home’. Granted, that is not easy especially if there are kids around but it will help everybody to get into a routine about home working.
Set yourself a work schedule, including breaks
I’ve said it before, working from home increases the risk that the lines between work and your personal life will become blurred.
Something to keep in mind is that this could go both ways. You might get tempted to do some non-work related stuff during your workday while you might easily remain glued at your laptop throughout the whole day.
Indeed, when I initially started to work more regularly from home in my regular day job, I somehow was scared to potentially miss a call thus carrying my work phone with me all the time and to reply to emails instantly. Just to avoid someone contacting me could think I would spend my time not working.
However, that’s nonsense. In fact, working in an office there will also be times you are not at your desk, as you might have a chat with a co-worker in the breakout area, go for lunch or else.
Indeed, it is important to take breaks. I am usually taking off at least half an hour for a lunch break and another 15 to 20 minutes in the afternoon for a coffee or tea.
If the weather is nice, I might even plan a break to go out for a short walk.
Buy food for your lunch break
This might sound funny. But when you work in an office, chances are you are in a location with restaurants or delis nearby where you can go for a quick lunch or buy a sandwich.
If you live in a big city, this might still be true even when working from home. But maybe your home is in a mostly residential neighborhood where you do not have such an offer. In addition, currently many restaurants are closed and the reason you are working from home is indeed the need socially distancing from others.
Therefore, make a plan for your lunch breaks. Check out recipes for dishes that are easily prepared in a short time and buy the food you need to make lunch at home.
Are you currently working from home? What are your experiences? Do you struggle to adapt or do you find it easy?