After the coronavirus pandemic broke out, working from home became the new normal. Some were already accustomed, others quickly adjusted, but many people are still struggling with this new modus operandi. It would be naive to presume that you can simply switch from your regular office routine to your own kitchen table without experiencing any sort of difficulty. Creating a home office from scratch can be a challenge - financial, logistical, mental, and organizational. Although we are all hoping that the Covid-19 will soon be just a bad memory, remote work is most definitely here to stay.
The good thing about having a home as your workspace is that it isn't a new trend. Many people have been working from home for decades, and they can teach you a thing or two. Instead of going through the same issues, and struggling to overcome them, we are offering an alternative. After all, there are so many benefits of telecommuting you get to enjoy! In this article, you will read about enjoying working from home, regardless if you are just starting or not. We are sharing with you the very best practices from other remote workers. Use them wisely!
There are many great things about working from home. Here are some of our top picks:
- You get to set your own work hours
- You can adjust your work schedule and do more things during the day
- Parents can spend more time with their children
- You can have a more balanced diet by eating home-cooked meals
- You can introduce quick workouts or walks/jogs during your breaks
If you want to thrive from your home office as much as you did from your regular one, you need to understand what could be your downfall. Although every person has a different experience, some issues seem to be more common than others. Now that more people are working remotely than ever, it has become very important to be aware of these potential challenges, so we can be more equipped to deal with them.
1. Loneliness and isolation
Almost every person that switched from a regular office to working remotely has mentioned feeling lonely, left out, and isolated. Before 2020, many remote workers spent their workdays in coffee shops, cafes, and coworking spaces, so this wasn't such an issue, but since last year that stopped being an option for most. Spending the entirety of your workday without any physical contact with your coworkers became too much for some - many are looking forward to going back to the office, regardless of the long commute. However, you don't need to feel this way, no matter how long do you have to stay in this new method of working. Read below our advice and make the most out of your newly found situation.
If your home is your office, are you ever not working? Many people report precisely feeling like this, like there is no space to be away from the laptop, constantly feeling the pressure to check e-mails, jump on Zoom calls or finish that tiresome report. The end of the day became the end of the workday, and the cycle repeated itself. This issue also increased since last year, when taking a break became a challenge - instead of taking a stroll through the park, going to get the groceries during full lockdown mode became the only relief. The well-being of remote workers is no joke, and we will be tackling this topic down below as well.
3. Communication challenges
Can you really say that you got your message across if you are only speaking with someone on video meetings and in Slack group chats? According to most remote workers - not really. The struggle of not being able to see nonverbal cues, or casually stroll to your colleague's table for a quick check-in means that a lot gets lost in translation. Although this has been an issue even before the 2020 pandemic, and it affects all remote workers equally, it is also an issue that is easier to resolve than others.
Knowing what issues might decrease your productivity and affect your mental health when telecommuting also means that you can be ready for them and resolve them even better than you expected. Remote working is here to stay and learning from others how to be a top performer can help you both personally and professionally.
Working at your kitchen table, only to feel uncomfortable so you grab a quick phone call on the terrace, followed by a video conference on your couch after hours in order to meet the deadline... Are you ever not working? Probably not. Your brain is always thinking about work because you never allow it to stop. Let's see how can you trick yourself into actually separating work and home, no matter how long do you have to do it for.
1. Have a dedicated workspace
Set up a dedicated workspace you will work in. Take it a step further and allocate one of the spare rooms to be your home office. This way you will have no issues powering through your tasks and know you've finished working once you step out of it.
Take a look at our guide on how to set up your home office.
2. Set work hours and stick to the schedule
This is the bread and butter of every remote worker - setting clear boundaries. Start by respecting your regular work hours - there is absolutely no need to work for more than 8 hours a day, or how long your workday would last in an office. Working full-time didn't suddenly become working all-the-time. Just because the laptop is there staring at you, doesn't mean that you have to give it all the attention. The opposite is true.
3. Set clear goals and create daily to-do lists
If you limit yourself to working - with a clear goal and a task list in mind - only during certain hours, you will be able to get more work done. If you tell yourself that you have the entire day to finish the task at hand, you will probably end up procrastinating during the day and getting stuck behind the laptop at night.
4. Assign hours for conference calls and meetings
If your work environment allows, set a few hours during the day when you will have meetings and conference calls. This way you will know that during these hours you will not work on your daily tasks because you will be video conferencing. This helps you organize your day better and keep maximum productivity.
5. Put in focused work in your calendar
Similar to the one above, setting a block during your workday when you will tackle the biggest tasks will go a long way in mastering your productivity. During this time you shouldn't have any calls scheduled. Go ahead and make that DND event in your calendar and snooze notifications until you're done.
6. Stay away from social media
Everyone is tempted to check social media from time to time. Just because your phone is next to you, you shouldn't break your workflow. It would be best if you put your phone on silent and closed any social media tabs. Keep your browser distraction-free until you are on a break.
7. Act as if you are still in the office
In addition to dedicating work hours and office space, you could implement a couple of other office-like behaviors. Dressing up for the part, getting a (virtual) coffee break with your favorite colleague, having your lunch break at the same time...(check our WFH checklist for more) Human beings, in general, respond well to routine, repeated behaviors, and structure. You will know consciously that you are not in the office, but you can trick your brain by behaving as if you still are.
8. Respect other's methods of working and demand the same
Let's say you decide to work no later than 5 PM. And then your coworker asks you to have a Skype call at 7, just to ask you something, it won't be longer than a couple of minutes. Before you know it you two have been on the same video chat for two hours, discussing every minuscule project detail, eating dinner in front of the laptop, and gossiping about the rest of your remote team. It might sound like fun, but that just means your workday isn't finished and it's already past 9.
9. Choose the right remote work tool stack
Technology is there to help you achieve more within less time. It also helps you communicate with your remote team faster and better. Cose the right tools that will help you stay on track but also give an overview to the rest of the team. We are talking about tools to help you with project management, communication, productivity, etc.
Try some of these remote work tools and see how your team's productivity increases!
10. Spend time with your team members and have fun
Getting to know your colleagues is important and it's a bit challenging to do that if you're working from home. You can pick and choose how you want to spend your time, but even if it's something as simple as playing a virtual game, having a coffee-break or a virtual birthday celebration with your team members, you will perceive those hangouts as an event that breaks the mould of your repetitive "working from home days".
Try some of these virtual team-building games and have fun with your remote team.
11. Know when it's time to sign off
When you sign off, turn off the notifications on all of your messaging platforms, let your colleagues know that you won't be available, and write down any idea that might pop up in a notebook, without turning your laptop. If you stick to this kind of behavior for a while, it will become your preferred way of working and you won't even consider going back to your old ways. Communication is key to remote work, and clear boundaries are the most solid foundation.
12. Create a wind-down routine
Create a schedule for yourself to wind down at the end of the day. You can come up with a list of things you enjoy and that will make you look forward to it each day. Mondays can be for movie nights, Tuesdays for video calls with family, Wednesdays for home spa or game night, and Thursdays for educational webinars...
Remote work comes with so many perks - enjoy them to the fullest
Best practices for working from home aren't only about how to deal with the difficulties - it is also how to use the situation in order to benefit yourself. Your personal life, your career, and your bank account can all improve simply because you've chosen to work remotely.
You can use the extra time and money to plan the next five years of your career and to start working on your goals and dreams. Who knows, maybe you will even consider moving to another country or becoming a digital nomad! Instead of complaining about the lack of social contact, team buildings in crowded bars, and ping pong tables at the office, think about how the situation you are in is beneficial to your overall life and career ambitions.
If you considered all of the perks having a remote office offers, you will see that they significantly outweigh the cons. Now that you are aware of all of this, there is no excuse for you to enjoy working from home to the fullest and fulfill all of your goals as a remote worker.