How to Work From Home: Three Essential Tips for Working Remotely
According to Pew Research, roughly 60 percent of workers whose jobs can be done remotely are currently working from home most or all of the time. While this is down about 10 percent from October 2021, it’s about 40 percent higher than those doing so before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. That is a lot of employees that have had to adjust to a remote work lifestyle. There are plenty of tips for working remotely that have been written about over the last two years.
Extremely early in the pandemic — think week one, before the bread baking and popularity of Clubhouse — The Cut begged the question of whether or not bras should be worn to work from home. Ten days later, Today made arguments for maintaining a business casual look of jeans and maybe a blazer to endlessly sit on Zoom in an effort to “influence your mood” and keep you motivated.
Much like your learning style or love language, everyone’s working styles differ. So realistically, the tips for working remotely that work for you may not be the best for everyone. Now that so many of us have the ability to work remotely, determining how you work most effectively is the first step.
Do you need to sit on a hard chair at a desk? Does oscillating between the couch and the kitchen table work better? Does a strict daily routine help, or are you more of a to-do list for the week and knock it out at all hours type? Midday laundry too distracting or a welcome break? What works best for you?
Establish your work space
Consider the functions of your job and if they can be executed best in the same place or different settings. Maybe meetings on video calls need to be in a room with a door, good light and a tidy background, while your emails can be done from a coffee shop.
Once you determine what type of setting is best for the functions of your job, you’ll realize your workspace doesn’t have to be confined to a duplicate of a traditional office setting. The benefit of remote work is being able carry out the majority of your responsibilities on your terms.
However, you will need some essentials within arms reach. You’ll want to have an outlet conveniently located (or portable charger) for those moments your computer, phone or other necessary device ultimately gets a low battery. A flat surface to do your work on should also include enough space for hydration. Whether you’re a three drink type of person or someone who mainlines coffee, you need to have sufficient space to keep water at your side.
Depending on your setting and what you need to execute, noise canceling headphones are a great way to isolate yourself and focus even when you cannot physically separate yourself from distractions. And, having an additional monitor outside of your laptop and a mouse can lend more efficiency. You want all the conveniences of an office but in the comfort of your own space.
Revamp your workflow
I tend to have my to-do list include non-work tasks like grocery shopping and laundry or the gym, and I set it up for the week. I also put events or further out meetings directly into my calendar. Sometimes I’ll even include progress points in my calendar for long term projects like a date an outline should be done that comes well before the deadline. Figure out what keeps you on task and doesn’t create more work to maintain it. It can be leveraging Trello or your own Google Spreadsheet or simple as a Notes app or white board.
This also includes how you communicate with your team and management. Take stock of where you’re communicating certain things and how that works for you. Communications that you need to refer back to frequently may be better suited for email so you can easily search them, while progress updates or quick questions may be better for Slack or whatever messaging platform you and your team prefer. Let your co-workers know what works best for you and ask what works best for them. You can even talk to them about what tips for working remotely they have and share yours.
Set boundaries and maintain them
Ideally, working remotely should allow you to establish a healthier work/life balance. Work time for yourself and your outside-of-work needs into your schedule and try not to compromise them for work.
Re-evaluate how you start your day. Take scheduled breaks. There’s no longer the opportunity to walk over to a colleague’s desk when you need a minute away from your screen. Go for a walk. Throw a load of laundry in. Take 15 minutes to stretch. Meditate. Log off.
Without the physical act of leaving the office, it’s worthwhile to set a time to end your work day. This can even be as simple as closing your laptop. You can leverage things like setting an alarm, turning off email notifications in the evening or setting up a specific “focus mode” on iPhones to enable you to have time away from work.
More so than anything else, the best tip for working remotely is to take advantage of it! You can work from anywhere, so go do that. Establish a routine that centers around you and your life and not simply work.