A 2018 study revealed that 70% of professionals work remotely at least one day a week, while 53% work remotely for at least half the week. The number of professionals telecommuting has skyrocketed within the last month as many employers have requested that their employees work from home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Working from home might seem like a dream. There’s no commute. You can dress more casually (at least from the waist down while videoconferencing). And, maybe, you’ll try to sneak in a few house chores during lunch. But once the reality of working from home sets in, it can be harder than it looks.
I’ve been working from home for more than six years, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t challenging at first. But it gets easier! Especially with practice and persistence. I’ve collected my favorite tips for working from home, all of which I still use today:
- Created a dedicated office space. If you don’t have a home office, consider utilizing a spare bedroom and simply adding a desk. It’s essential to have a clutter-free, professional background for video chatting.
- Protect your workspace from interruptions. An office with a door will create more privacy and block out any background noise if you have other people or pets at home. If my office door is closed, that means I would prefer not to be interrupted.
- Communicate with your team consistently. Take time to catch up with your team — whether through video, instant messaging, email or phone — to see how projects are progressing or ask how their day might be going. Try to continue the daily conversations that you’d have anyway if you were physically in the company’s office.
- Create a list and set priorities daily. It can be even more challenging to accomplish projects while working from home. I’ve found that I’m most productive when I create my to-do list for the day, every day, and prioritize my urgent items.
- Don’t eat at your desk. Eat at the dining room table, kitchen bar, outdoor patio or anywhere else in your home — just not in your home office. This gives you a nice break from your computer screen and a few moments to reset.
- Document your project progress. Updating your team on the development of a project is key to successful communication while working from home. And you’ll feel more productive when you proactively communicate with them.
- Pick up the phone. If you’re trying to explain a project or work through a particularly challenging problem, avoid using email or messaging channels. Directions can get lost in translation, and it’s more efficient to work through these things over the phone.
- Be mindful of your time. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you need to live in your home office. This was a challenge for me, but over time, I’ve learned to just walk away from my desk. While it’s not always as easy as it sounds, try to leave your desk at the same time you’d normally leave the office.
- Establish a routine. I’ve found that I’m more productive when I have a set routine for my day. I try to wake up at the same time every morning, get a quick workout in and then get ready for my day. I’m at my desk at the same time every morning; I have my lunch at the same time every day; and I leave my desk (if possible) at the same time every evening.
Everyone is different. You have to find the processes that work for you. Always remember to find social interactions, whether it’s calling a coworker or video chatting a friend, because it can be easy to isolate yourself in an office. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, go for a walk around the block to get some fresh air — it will do wonders for your mind!