Making the transition to work from home is an easy one for some, but more challenging for others. From remote video conference calls with clients and coworkers to creating the ideal office setting at home that is free of distractions can be an adjustment. To learn how to successfully work from home, there are basic guidelines to promote a productive work day and each person can customize them to what works best for them.
After all, everyone has their own work style which is dependent on their professional role, work ethic, and personality. Whether you’re temporarily adapting to a WFH model or have made the permanent adjustment to join the remote workforce, here are ways to stay connected, maintain efficiency, and practice a healthy work-life balance.
Set Up a Designated Workstation
The first thing to do when faced with a work-from-home situation is to secure a specific space where you plan to work that is free of as many distractions as possible, such as household chores or kids. Although it may be tempting to check emails from the comfort of your bed or couch, this doesn’t allow the brain to separate work from relaxation. Designate a room or area in your home to set up your computer, phone, desk, and any other necessary accessories to create a designated workstation. You can even get creative and learn how to use a computer monitor as a TV in your newly established home office. Just as professionals learn how to set up multiple monitors for gaming, we assure you there’s plenty of ways to make your home office setting efficient with the right technology. It's important to create a comfortable, yet professional space, as you may need to hop on several video conference calls to stay connected with your clients, employees, or coworkers throughout the day.
Ensure there is enough lighting and ways to block out as much noise as possible. After setting up your workstation, add in comfortable elements like an air diffuser, speakers to play music, and anything else that will make the area more accomodating and pleasing. Whether you block off an entire room or a nook off the kitchen, you can still maximize the space you have and make it beneficial to your work schedule each day.
Maintain Effective Ergonomics
Depending on the amount of space you have for your workstation and desk, navigating ergonomics can be tricky when you work remotely. One area where you can optimize your posture and performance is by using a monitor desk mount. This will help to reduce neck strain since you can adjust your computer monitor to meet your field of vision rather than craning your neck to adjust to its placement. With different varieties available, you can choose the one that fits your monitor size and weight.
If you’re working solely with a laptop, think about investing in a laptop stand. The lightweight, adaptable construction of these stands allow you to keep an ergonomic station for your at-home office. It allows you to situate your laptop at eye’s level so you don’t become hunched over during the day. It also prevents strain on your eyes by keeping the monitor an appropriate distance away. In addition, adjust your chair height so knees are level with the hips and adjust armrests so you can rest the arms with the shoulders relaxed. Having the right ergonomic positioning is key for both desktop and laptop use when working from home. As well, when working long hours, it’s important to consider which part of your body is affected by poor ergonomics so that you can keep up your momentum and stay focused to get that project completed and meet your deadline.
Switch Up Your Environment
Setting up a designated workstation for the majority of your workday will trigger your brain to get into a productive mode. However, switch up your environment throughout the day. For example, while you may focus most of your time being seated to work on the computer or take calls, change your routine once in a while by standing up to do certain work tasks.
Turn a breakfast bar into a standup desk. Take a phone call on your patio and write down notes with pen and paper instead. If there are ways to break up the monotony of your workflow, keep your brain active by simply switching where you’re doing the work. Also, consider when you are the most productive.
For some, that’s right when they get up and for others, this time doesn’t come until later in the afternoon. Knock out the work you need to focus on the most during your best times and leave other flexible work tasks like emails, planning, and brainstorming for blocks of time where you aren’t set against harsh deadlines. Sometimes all it takes is trying a different schedule or moving to a different area to give you a new perspective and motivation.
Schedule Regular Breaks
Part of learning how to successfully work from home is scheduling regular breaks. While it may sound counterintuitive, breaks are just as important as the work itself. WFH employees may find their mornings run into the afternoon in a blur with no stop for meals or time spent outdoors. Starting each day with a schedule will help to get things on track.
Block off time on your calendar when needed. This can include taking a walk around the block, scheduling in a mid-morning meditation, or making a coffee run for an afternoon pick-me-up. Without scheduling regular breaks, you can become burnt out without even realizing it, which ultimately will affect your work. Schedule at least one morning and one afternoon break to get up and stretch, make yourself a snack, or do another non-work related activity. This is especially important if you do not have a standard 9-5 job or have irregular work hours.
Everyone needs to get up from looking at their computers and stretch their legs throughout the day. It gives you a chance to recharge and get ready for another block of work. For every two to three hours of work, plan at least a 20-minute break away from your computer. It can be something leisurely or it can still contribute to your career growth. Listen to an industry podcast, brainstorm with teammates on the phone, or map out a plan for how to spend the rest of the day. Taking time to reset often helps us to work more efficiently and effectively than if we were to barrel on through the day.
Keep Connected with Colleagues
Maintaining a connection with the people you work with is one of the main challenges people face when working remotely. If the majority of your company works from home, there’s likely already protocols in place to keep regular communication going. As someone that works from home, you’ll need to work together to stay in touch.
This may involve scheduling regular team calls, implementing online communication channels like Slack or Google Chat, and also scheduling video chats for celebrations, company meetings, and other major events that happen in the office that you’d like to be part of. In addition, it’s important to be vigilant about consistency in response times.
Respond to emails and project notifications in a timely manner and block off time on your calendar if you won’t be checking notifications or won’t be available for meetings. Rather than colleagues wondering why you’re not online, communicate times when you’ll be hunkered down on a project during working hours.
Have regular check-ins with your supervisor to discuss any challenges you face with working remotely and listen to feedback as well. You want to make sure your team can count on you even if you’re not physically present, but you also want to maintain connections with colleagues through collaboration and personal interactions.
Stay Focused on Your Physical and Mental Health
Fortunately, technology has prompted the ability for more people in more industries to do their work well from the comfort of their own homes. As things change, it’s important to stay flexible and tune into what your company requires from you and what you need in order to be productive. Adjusting your workspace to fit your lifestyle can make a significant difference in how well you’re able to do your job, while maintaining your life balance.
Creating an ergonomic setup is beneficial to your physical health. Taking time to get up and stretch and stay active with scheduled walks or other activity is important for work that is primarily sedentary. The same is required to maintain your mental brainpower. Taking breaks from your office setting and connecting with colleagues both for work conversations and friendly check-ins makes a difference in how you feel overall. For some, working from home can feel isolating at times, which means connecting with others is the balance you need. Whether that’s in-person or over a video platform, learn what you need to recharge your batteries.
Mastering Work from Home
Adjusting to a remote working situation is a big transition, especially for those who’ve always spent time in an office surrounded by others. However, the level of productivity often goes up since there are not constant disruptions throughout the day. Learning how to successfully work from home requires discipline and a deep understanding of how you like to work and how to adapt this to others when you are in a separate environment.
It often requires a bit of a testing period at first to adapt to the changes, but once you’ve got a steady rhythm down, it’ll become easier to adapt when there are other disruptions that are out of your control. Separating your home life from your work life is still possible even when your comforts are right within reach.
Remember to ensure an ergonomic set up in an area away from your bed or couch and leave room open to switch up your environment. Schedule regular breaks keep connected as much as necessary and take care of yourself both physically and mentally. It doesn’t matter where you are working from if you can tune into what you need to get the job done.