In the past year, many people have started working remotely from home as a result of COVID-19. Are you among the masses that have ditched the cubicle space for your home office? For some working from home has been a temporary thing. But increasingly, many companies are making a lot of jobs permanent work from home gigs. My job is among them. This has been a struggle for a lot of folks, as people attempt to separate life and work while working from home.
Working from home requires some adjustment. Some of that is mental. Most of it is practical. In today’s podcast, I provide 10 tips for working from home. Here the things I’ve learned and try to practice since making the transition to working from home, which I talk about more in the podcast. Be sure to listen above. And hopefully, these tips will help you get more than 15 minutes of actual work done while working from home.
1. Have A Dedicated Work Space
Even if you don’t have a home office that you can close the door to, you should set up some sort dedicated work space. Don’t work in bed or sit on your front porch. Find a spot in your home that allows you to be productive.
If necessary put up a divider that separates where you work from where you live. People often do this with studio apartments, where they have a wall divider of some sort setup between their living area and sleeping area.
You need a place where you can minimize distractions, and reduce noise. So, whether you throw up a curtain on a rack, get a collapsible foldable wall, or just put up a divider, do what you can to create a special work space.
2. Make Your Work Space A Happy Space
Add color to your room. Try to introduce as much light to your space as possible. If possible, sit near some windows. Don’t try to replicate the drabness of corporate America’s cubicle heaven. Make your space something that would make others want something similar.
Set your office space up for success. Get some decent office furniture, especially a comfortable chair. Try to avoid sitting at the kitchen table. Keep everything you need within an arm’s length of where you work. If you are going to need it, keep it close to you. You shouldn’t have to go to another room for a pen. So make sure all the supplies you need are always located somewhere you can and easily access everything when you need it.
3. Keep Your Work Area Clean And Well Organized
You are a professional, so act like it. Don’t let food and dishes and other stuff pile up around your work area. Keep it clutter free. Treat your work area at home just like you would an office or cubicle at work… if not better. And, if you have an elaborate setup with multiple monitors, do what you can to hide wires. Zip tie wires if necessary.
4. Start And End Your Day On Time
This is especially true if you are a salaried employee. While work may demand you put in more than 40 hours a week, still do everything you can to create a definite schedule and to separate work from life. Keep regular hours, and have a certain time you refuse to work past. When you are done with work, power down all your work related devices and do not not touch them until it is time to work tomorrow. When working from home, it is vital to your success that you make a clear division between life and work.
5. Start Or End Your Day With A Walk
Now that you aren’t driving into the office and sitting in traffic for hours on end, you have more time than ever to take care of yourself physically. And you’ll have more opportunity than ever to become physically lazy if you aren’t careful. Trust me, it can be easy to get off work and surf the couch for the rest of the day.
Build some basic exercise into your daily routine. It’ll help clear your mind, get your blood flowing, and fight lethargy. It’ll make you feel better, and help you perform better at work. It’ll also help create a clear division in your day as you transition from work to life. It’s a sort of reset button. So don’t be afraid to punch it every day.
6. Eat A Healthy Breakfast And Lunch
Since you are working from home now, you have more control over what you eat. Since will no longer be able to swing by Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds for breakfast on your way to work, and you won’t be eating lunch out somewhere downtown, working from home is a great opportunity to start cultivating better eating habits.
So keep your kitchen stocked full of delicious, healthy, and easy to eat fruits and veggies. Try to avoid stocking up on junk food in your pantry. Otherwise, you’ll truly get a case of the “COVID-19,” and can easily gain some extra pounds if you aren’t careful (don’t ask me how I know). Lately I’ve been trying to stock my kitchen full of fruits and veggies I like. Red grapes, fuji apples, and other such healthy items are my go to snacks these days.
7. Dress For Success
Remember the old saying by Mark Twain, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.” That is true, even if you are working from home.
Shower frequently, shave, brush your hair, and don’t wear pajamas every day. Put on your makeup if you wear it. It’s kinda tempting to let yourself go when nobody outside the house will see you. Take care of your appearance. It’ll put you into a better productive mood, and make you feel better at the end of the day. Even if you are working from home, “dress for the job you want not the job you have.”
And for the love of God, don’t work naked. Put some jeans on. Maybe even the occasional polo shirt.
8. Talk To Someone!
While e-mail and instant message are my preferred means of communication at work, it is important that you pick-up the phone and call someone every now and then. Try to talk to at least one or two coworkers on the phone every day. It’s important your coworkers know you are a real person, and not just an e-mail account, and the best way to do that is for them to hear your voice. It’ll let you connect with others in a way you just can’t connect electronically. So reach out and touch someone. Just let them know you are calling before you do. Never just randomly call someone unless it’s urgent.
9. Post A Profile Picture
If your work let’s you setup a personal profile with a picture on your corporate intranet site or on Skype instant message, be sure to do that.
Not everyone does video conferencing. But folks should still get a chance to see your wonderful face just the same. Especially as working from home will create less face to face interaction with our peers. I believe this will help bring a sense of humanity to the workplace as we all work remotely.
Just make sure your work profile picture is appropriate for work. Nobody needs to see that picture of you shirtless on the beach drinking a margarita. Once you see your co-workers chest hair, that’s not something you can unsee. So keep the picture professional-ish. Smile. Appear warm and inviting. Make people feel good about reaching out to you.
10. Be Productive!
Do your job, and do it well. Be as productive as possible. Don’t get distracted by a Netflix binge while you work remotely. And if you have some down time with nothing else to do, don’t do anything personal on your work laptop. If you are going to take a break to do something personal, do it on your own personal computer or cell phone.
Chances are, if you are working from home your boss is probably a little paranoid about it, always wondering if you are truly working or if you are just goofing off. Your boss is probably watching you in some way through tracking software. So, don’t stare into space for hours on end like Peter Givens from Office Space used to. Get more than 15 minutes of work done. And do your personal stuff on your own computer.