Remote Challenge: How to Work From Home
Tips for Working From Home
When I mention I work from home, I typically hear “it must be so great to work from home” or “it must be nice to be able to wear yoga pants every day”, and it’s usually with a (valid) twinge of envy. And for the most part it is. I have a ton of flexibility, I no longer have to pack a lunch, my commute can’t be beat, and my dry cleaning budget is nil. But there are adjustments I’ve learned you have to make.
Create a Separate Workspace
If you don’t have a separate room you can designate as your office, find an area you can carve out as your workspace. Ideally this will be in a low traffic area of your home, free from most distractions. When you have a specific, designated work space, it is easier to switch into work mode than it is if you are constantly having to relocate. For me, no longer could our home office be a repository for stacks of mail and papers, or the temporary home of things for which I had no other place. I was inspired to clean, organize and make my home office my workspace.
Set a Schedule
This may be set for you by your employer, it might not, but it is imperative to have a structure around your work. This is an area I continue to struggle in. I regularly login and check emails when I wake up and from there, it’s easy to simply keep working during a time when I would normally be eating breakfast or going to the gym. I’ve found I have to make more of an effort to schedule my workouts, dog walks, and even meal breaks than I did when I worked in a traditional brick and mortar setting. I’ve sadly discovered that close proximity to my kitchen and less overall walking has led to slow weight creep! Although I have not perfected this step, I am scheduling reminders to get up and move throughout my day, walk my dog and eat normal meals instead of grazing. I have also started closing my laptop and shutting my office door to physically signal the end of my workday.
It is important to set boundaries with others whether this be your partner, your family or your neighbors. Some still hold an antiquated belief that “working from home” is not really working. Despite numerous studies that show remote workers are more productive, it is not uncommon to have people ask if you can do favors for them that they would never ask if you worked in a traditional office. It is fine if you are able to do these from time to time with limited disruption to your work, but learn to say no.
Connect with Others
Make an effort to connect with people in person. In a remote work environment, we communicate via instant messaging, videoconferencing, email and phone. Invitations and impromptu plans that are organically made in an office do not happen as easily. It helps to be deliberate in scheduling in person time with friends and family. If you do find yourself creeping towards recluse, consider changing up your workspace to a local coffee shop or coworking space for an afternoon. Or just call your friends and make plans!
Be sure to enjoy the freedom that remote work gives you! During my reminders to walk away from my desk I’ll do some yoga stretches, which surely would garner some strange looks in a typical office. Or I’ll throw a load of laundry in, see whether anything has grown in my garden or discover whether the rabbits have snuck their way past the fence—all things I’d be unable to do during a typical 15-minute break anywhere else.
Everyone’s experience with remote work will vary and some may take to it more easily than others. Whether you’ve been virtual for years or are new to remote work, hopefully these tips will come in handy.
DockYard is a digital agency that offers user experience, design, full stack engineering, web app development, software, Ember, Elixir and Phoenix consulting.