Remote work arrangements have been around for a long time, but it has become more common, necessary, and preferred over the past years. A lot of companies have become more open to full or hybrid work-from-home setups due to the circumstances.
If you work from home or you are about to start, you might be looking for ways to make dealing with this arrangement in a manner that is effective, efficient, and productive. Here are some tips to help you succeed in working from home.
Establish Your Workspace
The most important thing about working from home is establishing boundaries. After all, you will no longer be working at a dedicated office space, but within the four walls of your own home. This can be a big adjustment because you will not have the facilities that come with your workplace.
The best thing you can do is to create a space devoted to your remote work and keep it within this area. This establishes limits on where you are allowed to bring your work and helps you not let your professional life bleed into your personal one.
If you have a spare room, then you can use this as your home office. However, most people do not have such luxuries. The best thing to do in this situation is to restrict work to a certain area around your table.
Communicate Your Needs
A lot of companies that offer work from home or hybrid arrangements offer to provide the necessary equipment to perform the job. This can include a computer set, desk, chair, printer, subscriptions, software, and many more. This is true, especially if special circumstances compelled the company to offer that employees work from home.
These things will be provided by most companies at the start of the arrangement. However, there may be things you might discover you need along the way. Say, you need a replacement keyboard or a laptop riser for better comfort. Make sure to talk to your manager about these needs.
If the situation, however, is that you voluntarily requested for such a setup in a company that does not standardly offer remote work opportunities, then the chances of having your office equipment brought to your home lower.
Talk to Your Housemates or Family Members About Working From Home
You might be fully ready for a work-from-home setup, but your housemates may not be. This is especially challenging if you have kids in the house. The best way to go is to gather them in a household meeting and inform them about your impending work arrangement.
During the talk, clarify your boundaries. Help them understand that while you are home, you need to be present at work, so asking you to do chores during work hours is out of the question. For kids, asking them to keep the noise down is a great start.
If other adults work from home, make sure to agree to have quiet times for meetings, productivity, especially if you constantly communicate verbally for your job. Also, make sure to negotiate the use of shared equipment and spaces.
Continue Your Morning Ritual
When you work on-site, you probably take some time in the morning to prepare for the work day. This routine may include walking the dog, eating breakfast, drinking coffee, and taking care of personal hygiene. You might even squeeze in a bit of exercise in there.
You do not have to let this go when you start working remotely. In fact, having a morning ritual is recommended because it helps set the mood and mindset for the day. That is, it helps you understand that a work day is starting and you need to be in the right frame of mind.
Other than this, having a routine first thing in the morning can help you set boundaries. Waking up a few minutes or hours before starting work lets you be on top of your responsibilities right on time. As a result, it enables you to get off work right after your hours end.
Work Within Your Office Hours
As mentioned, boundaries are some of the most important things about working from home. You want to make sure that you keep your work-life balance even if you are working from a space that is important to your personal life.
Working within your office hours is very important because of this. If you work a nine to five job, then make sure to start your work day at nine and log off at five. If you are on a flexible schedule, then you should start and end your shift in eight hours.
Setting timers at the beginning and end is a great way to remind yourself that you should be working at this hour or that you should now stop working. However, the most vital thing is to be productive during your shift to avoid having to spend your personal time on work matters.
Do Not Forgo Breaks
In the spirit of being productive, you might be thinking of skipping breaks to finish what you need to do on time. This may sound appealing, but this can easily burn you out. Working eight hours straight without stopping for a breather can take a toll on your mental health.
What you should do is set timers for your breaks. Just remind yourself that you have office-mandated breaks when you work on-site and it should not be different when you work from home. After all, you need to refuel your body and refresh your mind so you can work efficiently. You can even follow popular methods, such as the Pomorodo technique.
Planning your breaks is the key. If you are given a few 15-minute breaks, you can take them at equal intervals to ensure you have downtime throughout the shift. If permitted, you can take them in one chunk of a longer but single break, which you can spend walking around outside after replenishing your energy.
Keep Your Lines Open
What many companies tend to dislike about remote work is that some of their staff go off the radar even during shifts. This makes it difficult for them to coordinate, provide instructions, and do other similar things that require communication.
You should take measures to ensure that you receive all communication coursed through official work channels such as email, instant messaging, and work phone numbers. Set up notifications on your computer and mobile device so that you receive alerts in real-time.
On your mobile device, you might want to remove battery restrictions on relevant applications to prevent your phone from limiting its ability to show notifications. For computers, make sure to turn on desktop notifications.
Set Communication Boundaries
While it is necessary to keep your lines open during work hours, you want to make sure that you maintain clear boundaries. Avoid answering emails, messages, and calls after your shift, so you maintain your work-life balance.
One thing you can do is use a separate phone number for work. You do not have to set up another landline, sim card, or even get another phone. You can use services like Skype and VoIP platforms. This way, you know that when this number rings, it is related to work and you can decide to take it or not after office hours.
If you choose not to use another mobile phone for your work, you need to take the necessary steps to prevent work matters from invading your personal time. Take advantage of the settings in your phone to filter notifications from certain accounts and apps.
Make Sure to Get Your Message Across
Communication is always important at work, but it is especially in remote setups. When you communicate with colleagues over the Internet, you want to make sure that you are getting your message across. You do not want to risk miscommunication that affects your operations and practices.
Sometimes, over-communication is a good move because it helps reinforce your message. If you are taking days off, you might want to mention it a few times to people who need to remember. You might also want to give more in-depth explanations than usual to properly document conversations.
One thing you need to remember is to never attach tone and intent, especially in written communications you receive. They might come off as rude or impatient-sounding, but that is just the nature of written communication. In turn, you might want to avoid sounding rude by making an effort to sound positive in your messages.
Keep in Touch With Colleagues
Another thing you can do to make work from home a more pleasant experience is to keep in touch with your workmates. Remote work can make you feel isolated from your colleagues because you barely leave the house to see them.
Your best bet is to socialize with them from time to time. Give them a good morning message every so often, or ask them about their weekend or holiday. This way, you can still feel connected to them on some level.
You might also want to set social meetings during long weekends or other opportunities. While online communication is a good way to stay connected, nothing beats personal interaction. Treat it as a dinner with friends, so you can catch up with your colleagues.
Use Your Leave Credits
Many people tend to refrain from using their leave credits, especially sick days off. In their minds, they are already at home, so why take time off even when they feel unwell? This can be toxic to their physical and mental health as it can burn them out faster.
What you need to remember is that while it is a remote setup, it is still work. If you work in the office, you will take time off when you are sick. Working from home does not make it any different. Plus, leave credits to come as part of your compensation package, so you have the right to use them.
Just keep in mind that not all supervisors grant requests for paid time off and you might need a compelling reason to take a sick day or a day off.
Maximize Your Work From Home Experience
The truth is, working from home offers a lot of advantages if you play your cards right. Say, you successfully set boundaries in terms of time and space, so you successfully finish a productive day. You now get to spend more time doing things you like because you are already at home.
Maybe you want to go out for a run with a friend or with your dog. You might also want to pursue some hobbies you have been keeping on the back burner for a while such as learning how to bake, taking online courses to learn new skills, and other similar endeavors.
You can maximize your work from home experience by taking the time to do things you want to do. In fact, you can even take a bit off your time during your shift to meditate, make a dough, marinade some stuff, water your plants, or even take a nap. Just make sure that you finish what you have to do at the end of the day.
Set Indicators of the Day’s End
Just as it is recommended to establish a routine in the morning to signal the start of the day, you might also do well to set indicators that your day is done. An alarm at the end of the shift might do the trick, but you want concrete sign.
You might want to log out from your accounts or turn off your computer. You can also listen to music or podcasts you love to unwind. For a more solid indicator, you should go out to walk your dog or run around.
During the weekends, you can even put your laptop away or cover up any sign of your work to keep it out of your mind.
Work from home arrangements can be worth your while if you do it correctly. With proper time management, boundaries, and other tricks, you can navigate this new setup more smoothly and make it work in your favor.