Although the crux of the pandemic seems to be behind us (touches wood with crossed fingertips), a lot of us continue to work from a home-based office. To some, this comes as a blessing, having home comforts such as our coffee maker on standby and zero commute. To others, it takes away a more social element and begins to combine home life with work life.
For those that are working remotely now, and even indefinitely, we have some great tips for how to make your remote-based workspace efficient, enjoyable, and effective.
Establish Your Routine
Depending on your company, or if you’re self-employed, your hours of work might be flexible – you may decide to keep a standard 9am-5pm shift or you might be able to start earlier and finish earlier, enjoying more afternoon time. Whichever time you start your workday, we encourage you to keep a similar routine like you would in the office.
Some ways to do this are:
- Dress for the job – don’t just roll out of bed and sit straight down in front of your computer
- Communicate proactively – don’t be afraid to ask questions, let someone know if you’re unsure of how to use something (e.g., a new software platform) and if working in a team on a project, make sure to keep checking in and seeing where everyone (and the deadlines) are at
- Treat your access to emails and deadlines the same as you would otherwise – try to avoid eating into your downtime by starting on work in the evening or on your weekend
- Avoid personal tasks – you’ll end up lengthening your workday and find yourself missing deadlines
Be aware of the hours that you feel the most productive – mornings or afternoons – and work to those so that you feel you’re getting the most out of your day. Just as you would in an office, make sure you take regular breaks (stop and go sit somewhere different for lunch), get yourself some fresh and air, stretch, or take a walk around your home a few times throughout the day.
Kick the day off strong – go for a walk or a run, change out of your pajamas so you feel like you’re starting a new day and find your favourite way to clear the mind before you turn on your screen (perhaps listen to a podcast, take a drive to get your morning coffee, or read a book for half an hour). Note: Spending time outside or away from your home before, after and during your breaks will help to break up that feeling of living at work.
Create Your Space
Because this is where you spend many hours of your day and week, the space needs to be comfortable, so it’s best to stay organized and make it work for you. If you can, try to locate your office in an area of your home that you don’t see or spend as much time in otherwise (e.g. a spare bedroom) – in an effort to break up the space you work from the space you live.
Make sure the space is comfortable for you, that your chair is the right height and has good support, make sure the light on your monitor is comfortable for your eyes (you may even consider a screen cover to help with glare) and give your work area a quick tidy at the end of each day, so it’s set up ready to start the next!
Working from home makes it easy to get up and wander to the kitchen for a snack, make another pot of coffee, or perhaps fold the laundry that’s sitting there staring at you saying “fold me”. Try to think, “Would I be able to do this in the office”, and if not, make a note to fold that clothes pile or empty the dishwasher after your work shift.
Everyone is different, so try to source the root of your distractions and make a plan to reduce or eliminate them. If you have a strong habit of checking social media, put your phone in a kitchen drawer until your lunch break and then scroll to your hearts content. If it’s a group chat with work friends on your company communication platform, mark yourself as offline or busy until your main tasks for the day are complete. If it’s your beloved fur baby, perhaps set them up with a designated space that they can relax or play while you work, organize a dog walker a few times a week or simply designate time periods during the day that you can walk them or give them an activity.
Use Effective Planning and Management Tools
It is certainly a big adjustment shifting from an in-office environment where there are regular meetings, computers set up with management software and people who regularly check in for certain things, to working from home where you may need to set yourself up from scratch.
Companies who have requested staff work from home or have offered a remote or hybrid work model, often provide their team with the tools and software they need to continue executing their role the same way they have done in their office setting. However, it might be a situation where this isn’t the case, and you find yourself a little unprepared for a remote-based role and struggling to keep on top of tasks and deadlines.
Tool Tip: Online tools such as Asana, ClickUp or Monday are fantastic options to help you plug in your tasks, mark in due dates, and give you a calendar overview of what’s coming up. Set yourself reminders, dates to have certain projects completed by, book in meetings and even share your work-boards with other team members to collaborate across one platform.
One of the biggest downsides for some is losing their workplace as their social outlet. There becomes a sense of isolation (heightened in the most recent couple of years), so it’s important to keep regular contact with your team. Emails are certainly the most common for communicating regarding work, however the ease of online, virtual meetings now is even better to talk face-to-face with others and get a sense of being in the same room.
Tool Tip: Online communication tools like Slack are a great way to instantly message other members of your team, share documents and photos and set up channels dedicated to certain work projects or departments or set up a Zoom account to video call and talk in person.
It might even be nice to plan an online video call just to sit for half an hour, have a coffee and just talk about what’s on that week, or even make it non-work related. Some of you may live in the same city or town as your workmates, so perhaps it’s still possible to have a regular in-person catch-up for a lunch or Friday after-work wine. This certainly helps to make a connection more personable and keep you still feeling in-sync with your work family.
No matter where you work, you can always change a few little things to make it better suit you and your working style. Keep in mind that remote work might only be temporary so remember to enjoy the luxuries that do come with a working-from-home lifestyle.