By Valerie Norton
Given everything going on in the world right now, a lot of people are starting to consider working from home, even if it’s only temporary. Or perhaps they’ve thought about it for a while and are finally looking to make the jump.
As a company, we largely transitioned to working remotely a couple of years ago, and while it absolutely works for me and I LOVE it, the shift certainly wasn’t always a smooth one. So I’ve compiled some of my biggest tips for anyone looking to work from home or make the most out of their space.
These days I have a home office, but when I started, I had a junior apartment in a not-great neighborhood, so my options were a bit limited. Not all of these will apply to everyone, but hopefully they’ll help jump start some ideas.
1. Dress like you’re going to work. This sounds simple, but don’t stay in your pajamas or comfy clothes all the time. I’m not saying you need to wear a suit, but you want to dress in the mindset that you’re going to work. It’s a little thing that goes a long way.
2. Create a dedicated space, and try to use it only for work. This will depend largely on your resources–perhaps it’s a full-blown desk setup or a particular seat at the kitchen table–but please, DO NOT WORK FROM YOUR BED. This is where productivity goes to die. You may find that you like working from different places in your home for some variety, but my main recommendation is to find a space that makes you feel productive. I personally can’t sit on the couch; my mind wanders, and I’m often tempted to put something on the background.
3. Make boundaries with work. It’s very easy to let your work slip into your evening or personal time when you work from home, or to start your day a little late and “make up for it” later. Keep your hours to about whatever your regular work hours would be in the office, and stick to it. Now that you’re literally bringing your work home with you, you’ll have to be diligent about making it stay to only work hours.
4. Remember to move around! It is alarmingly easy for me to sit at my desk all day with no movement, and doubly so because a lot of my free time is used in front of the computer or other screens. I make sure to take walks around my area, or occasionally go out and grab a coffee, or take lunch at my kitchen table and not at my desk. Some people like to take a five or ten-minute stretch break every hour; others schedule their gym time during their lunch break.
5. Use time to your advantage. One of the best things about working from home is the flexibility. I no longer have a work commute, so I spend my mornings cleaning the apartment, journaling, writing, reading, doing yoga, getting groceries, etc. Maybe it means more time to play video games. 🙂 I used to just sleep that time away (and truthfully, sometimes I still do), but now I’m careful to make it ‘me’ time. This also ties back to making boundaries with work; the lines blur when you work from home, so having time that is clearly yours can be incredibly helpful.
6. Don’t isolate yourself. For many people, the hardest part about working from home is being alone. This is especially jarring if you start like I did–I went from living in Manhattan and being around people CONSTANTLY to just… seeing no one once I moved to my not-good neighborhood and transitioned to working from home. Make sure you spend time out of the house, whether it’s working from a coffee shop, or setting dinner dates with friends, or jumping on the phone to chat with your colleagues instead of being on IM, or playing co-op games, or joining a club/gym in your area. There are a bunch of ways in and out of work hours to spend time with other people, so find the ones that work best for you.
We’re fortunate in that we have an office in the city, and everyone is encouraged to go in once a week (though that’s been suspended for the moment) so we can see each other. We also video chat with each other a few times a week so that we can still have facetime and collaborate when needed.
7. Regarding kids: I don’t have kids, so I’m not going to pretend like I’m an expert here. But a few of my colleagues have kids ranging in age from months to 13, and the biggest thing I’ve seen from them is both adjusting their time to fit their kids’ schedules, while also still setting boundaries with them so they understand you’re working. These colleagues usually start work a little earlier than I do, but they might randomly be gone for a half an hour to get their kids from school or take them to an appointment. Again, flexibility with working from home can be your best friend, and it’s simply a matter of adjusting your schedule to make it work. But don’t take MY word for it…
*Hiya, Kim here! Being a new mom of a 10-month-old, working from home and balancing the crazy-new-parent life has been quite a ride. On top of the non-stop multitasking, I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned to adapt daily is to give yourself a break–even if it’s for 5 minutes. It’s super easy to lose yourself in the high pressure to stay on top of work, emails, meetings–all while making sure your crying newborn doesn’t crawl into the dog’s water bowl behind your back. Working from home can be a blessing, but when babies are in the mix, days can turn into a 24/7 mental drain. At the end of the day, the only way to successfully take care of your kids, job, and clients is to make sure you take care of yourself first.
**Corey here. Working from home is way worse when the kids are home from school. That is all.
8. Talk to someone if you’re struggling with working from home. It can be tough, and sometimes knowing other people feel the same way helps, especially if it’s your fellow coworkers. This goes back to not isolating yourself, and you can work together to make it a more positive experience.
I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones that stood out to me. Good luck out there!
This post has been modified from a piece originally published on https://valeriethewriter.com.