Working from home has its perks — there’s no commute, you have a more flexible schedule, and you can work in a custom environment. But there are challenges, as well. How do you handle getting your work done if you have kids around? How do you avoid feeling isolated? What equipment do you need to work most efficiently?
What works best for remote workers will vary from person to person, and we want to make WFH work for you. Keep reading for our list of 12 tips for working from home to help you maintain productivity and a work-life balance.
1. Create a Work From Home Routine
When working remotely, you must set a schedule and stick to it. Without in-person meetings to break up your day, you can quickly lose focus or burn out. To avoid this, structure your day like you would in the office. Having clear guidelines for when to work, when to take scheduled breaks, and when to call it a day will help you work more efficiently, as well as help you maintain a work-life balance.
To stay on schedule, decide what work you’ll do and when over the course of the day. Use an online calendar to create events and reminders that tell you when to start on new tasks. Evaluate what times of the day you are most productive and schedule your most important work during those hours.
2. Set Boundaries in the House
While not everyone who works from home has the luxury of a home office, it’s still essential to create a private, quiet workspace in your home. Rather than working from your bed or the couch — spaces that are associated with leisure — dedicate a specific room or area of your home to work. Having a dedicated workspace will help you leave work behind for the day when you step out of that area of your home.
Make sure that your work from home space is organized and has the office materials you need to get your work done effectively. To make your workspace more inviting, we recommend hanging some custom wall art of your favorite family photos and memories.
3. Get the Tools You Need to Work Remotely
As soon as you start working from home, it’s important to ask for the technology and equipment that you need. Whether that’s a monitor, keyboard, or a mouse — don’t be afraid to ask for whatever tools will make your work more comfortable.
Once you have all the tools you need, make sure you have the right applications. Remote workers often rely on video conferencing software like Skype and Slack to communicate with their teams. Ensure that all of your technology, including Wi-Fi and your VPN, actually work from home, so your workday isn’t interrupted by technical difficulties.
4. Dress the Part Even When Working From Home
It can be tempting to roll out of bed in your pajamas and head straight to the laptop, but it’s easier to get yourself in a professional mindset by getting dressed and ready for the workday. Take a shower, dress up, do your hair — whatever you would typically do to give yourself a morning routine — even when you’re working remotely. These little things will make you feel your best and help you do your best work. Plus, you’ll be happy you got dressed when a surprise video conference invitation comes your way.
5. Make Sure the Family Understands When You’re Not Available
Set ground rules with your family and other people who are home while you work. If your kids are home with you, they need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. Your family needs to come to an understanding that your WFH hours aren’t time for you to be doing housework or other tasks that could interrupt your productivity.
6. Create a Plan for Your Kids at Home
Working from home with kids around is tough, so you’ll want to find some activities that they can do to keep them entertained and focused. Stock up on puzzles, books, and games to keep them busy while you’re working. Putting on movies or a streaming service the kids will enjoy is a good idea, too.
7. Manage Expectations With Your Supervisor
If you are new to working from home, discuss with your employer what is realistic to accomplish from home and what isn’t. You’ll want to confirm how the team will be connecting, whether it’s through email or via video conferencing. You’ll also want to make sure there is an understanding of the rules — do you have a flexible schedule, or are you set on working 9 to 5? Reach out to your employer for any questions or concerns you have to make working from home run smoothly.
8. Minimize Distractions In Your WFH Workspace
If you have loud distractions like a barking dog or blaring construction outside, you’ll want to try noise-canceling headphones to keep you focused. If your kids need more attention than you can give them while working, look into hiring at-home childcare if that’s in your budget. Other distractions you’ll want to avoid are TV, video games, and social media. Anything you wouldn’t be doing in the office, you’ll want to avoid doing at home if possible.
9. Embrace Your Webcam
Using your webcam during team meetings or client calls helps with communication as well as the feeling of isolation. To be able to see the person you are communicating with is important and allows for a more seamless real-time working session.
10. Stay Connected With Co-Workers
When you’re working remotely full-time, you don’t have the option to grab lunch with a co-worker or pop your head into a friend’s office. To avoid feeling isolated, make it part of your routine to interact with your co-workers regularly. Reaching out over messaging apps, even if just to say “hello” in the morning, will help you stay connected. Try incorporating icebreaker conversations at the beginning of team meetings to interact with your colleagues in a more personal way.
11. Take Advantage of Your Working From Home Perks
Working from home comes with unique perks. Bake yourself your favorite dessert or do a load of laundry during a scheduled break in your day. Go outside for a quick jog or play a game with your kids. Take advantage of the perks you have when working remotely because you can and because you deserve to.
12. Put Away Work After Hours
Make it a goal to end work at the same time every day. Put away your devices and stay out of your designated workspace. Just as you start your day with a routine, it’s also important to create a post-work routine. Whether it’s cooking dinner or taking an online yoga class, create these habits to mark the end of working hours.
Final Thoughts On Working From Home
Remote work is convenient, but it takes a bit of effort and planning to make it work. Once you’re set up and know what to expect, you can enjoy the time-saving and productivity benefits of working from home.