By Rebecca Butler and Laurie Davis
What did you think working from home would be like? Did you envision a state of relaxation as you worked from the couch in your pajamas? Or did you think you would be able to accomplish both work and home responsibilities during the day? If working remotely isn’t all you dreamed it would be, rest assured that you are not alone. Working well from home is a skill that takes time and effort to master.
You might be thinking that you don’t have precious time to figure out how to work remotely. You need help today! Well, you are in the right place. Ever since Interprose opened for business in 1998, its employees have worked remotely. So, we know a thing or two about successfully working from home and are here to share our top 7 tips.
Have a plan
Without your colleagues around, it can be easy to get distracted from accomplishing pertinent tasks. You need to start the day with a plan of what you are going to accomplish. Creating a to-do list is a great way to get organized each morning. Write down everything you need to get done, even the small stuff. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, knock off a few of those small tasks to get your brain warmed up and ready to tackle the day. Adding non-work tasks to your list or having a separate list is helpful too, so you aren’t distracted by that sink full of dishes.
Create a separate work space
While working from the couch sounds relaxing, your back will thank us for this tip. Set up a designated work space with a chair and desk (or some kind of table). Gather up all the supplies you need to do your job and keep them together. This will help you focus and stay in work mode. That being said, if the weather is nice, take your laptop outside and work from your porch for an hour or so.
Set working hours
Hello boundaries! When you are working remotely, it can be hard to turn your brain off and think of anything other than work. It is important to set reasonable work hours for yourself, so you don’t end up working 6am-9pm everyday! Of course there are exceptions where it makes sense to respond to an email or make a phone call outside of typical working hours, but be vigilant that it doesn’t become a habit. Shutting down your computer to signal the end of the working day is a great place to start.
Until you are out of an office environment, you might not realize how that quick chat with your coworker serves as a break in your day. Don’t stay sitting the whole day. Taking walks and stepping away from work while you eat lunch are great ways to ensure you take breaks. Or if you are at home with your kids, take a break to play or help them with school work. An easy way to ensure you follow through with taking breaks is to make appointments for them in your calendar. This also helps your colleagues know when you aren’t available during the day. Don’t feel guilty about the occasional break. You’re saving time on commuting, in meetings or participating in general office chit chat, so give yourself permission as it will increase your productivity.
Communicate and Collaborate
Make sure you have open lines of communication with your colleagues and boss, whether it’s email, phone or another communication tool. It’s important to be able to touch base and not feel isolated from your team. Even though it might not be in the office break room, you are still able to grab a cup of coffee and brainstorm with a colleague thanks to technology. Remember, working remotely does not mean you are working alone. You still have your team in your corner!
Enjoy the flexibility
Don’t trade your lack of commute into more work time. Enjoy this added time to spend on things you want to do. Or utilize the time to get a few more non-work responsibilities checked off during the day, so your evenings can be filled with family time, catching up on a TV show or whatever leisure activity you choose. Also, bonus tip, if you are planning to exercise more while you’re working remotely, many exercise apps and gyms are offering free livestream fitness classes and app trials right now!
Plan your meals and snacks
Trust us, we know a thing or two about how the occasional bag of chips at 3 pm turns into a full-fledged snack attack every day. And, without proper planning, you’ll end up eating chips and salsa for lunch every day. You should decide your lunch plan just as if you were going into the office. Also, portioning out your snacks will keep you from overindulging and mindlessly eating the whole can of Pringles while you crank out work.
We have worked remotely for over 20 years and our team has thrived in this environment. We communicate, collaborate on multiple projects and bring our A-game every day. In fact this blog is an example of a virtual collaboration effort! If you find yourself suddenly working from home, just remember that everything takes practice. Give yourself some grace, have patience, show up every morning and do your best!
Do you have any other tips on how to be productive for those who are now working from home? We’d love to hear them!