10 Tips for Working from Home
Last week, millions of people all over the world had to leave their offices and adjust to a new reality. For many, it was not easy to function without their daily routine, as all of us find ourselves trying to juggle working from home with concerns about what’s going on in the world.
I have worked from home for years now, and have grown accustomed to the many advantages of this arrangement. I’ve started my first digital business, an online shop for kitesurfing gear while living on a Carribian island. Since then, I have traveled all over the world, lived in Israel and LA, and took with me my digital agency, which I run from my laptop.
A few years ago, my daughter Ariel was born, and my home office became her room as well. For me being so close to my child is a privilege, and I would not give it up for any fancy office building. Having said that, switching to working from home isn’t easy and requires adjustment. It’s certainly not ideal to be thrust into working from home in the current conditions, but we simply don’t have to a choice but make the best of it.
So for everyone who hasn’t experienced long periods of working from home before, here are the recommendations I have after years of living this way:
1. Establish your home office
My husband knows that there’s one area in the house he can’t use when I’m on a video call or working on a big presentation. And that’s my office area. Working from a bed filled with fluffy cushions may look good on your Instagram Story, but it’s terrible for your back and your productivity. If you can, invest in an ergonomic chair and type while your arms are supported. I have experienced first hand how crucial working from a good chair can be for your wellbeing.
If you have a spare computer screen or TV, connect your laptop to a second screen. Techies have been doing this for years, and it’s very convenient for tasks that require comparing documents, translations, etc.
Even if you don’t have office furniture per se, opt for working from the dinner table to staying on the couch with the laptop on your legs.
2. Agree on boundaries
Working from home is easy when you’re home alone. Focusing alongside spouses who are busy with their own work and kids who need more attention than ever these days is much harder. To make working easier, share your goals, and schedule with all the members of your household and set boundaries everyone agrees upon. Decide in advance who is available for the kids when and try to respect these agreements so that each of you can get at least 3-4 hours each day of uninterrupted work time.
3. Set times for focus
Concentrating is one of the biggest challenges when working from home. The need to stay in virtual touch with the world, the pull to browse the net instead of producing our own content, and, these days, the need to keep up with the news, all make focusing extremely hard. It’s not easy to do, but try to clear time slots without distractions when you shut off your phone and work on only one task at a time. Even if it’s just an hour at night or in the morning, it can really boost your productivity.
4. Know what works for you
In a world full of distractions, productivity has become an unattainable goal, and there are endless tips on increasing your output. But when you’re planning out your day, it’s essential to take into account not only everything you have to do but your personal strengths. If you’re always sleepy after lunch, use that time to make phone calls. If you’re more creative at night, leave brainstorming to the late hours, and focus on more technical tasks in the morning.
Want to make your day even more efficient? Use tools like Toggle to time how long you spend on various tasks to gain a better understanding of your time management. If you’re managing clients, try to see how much time you spend on each one and aim for a correlation between what you put in and what you get out.
Each of us has so many things to do each day. And since there is no division between home and work, the work never ends, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Prioritizing tasks helps to focus and not let anything important fall through the cracks. Every day I write down everything I have to do on a whiteboard and pick two tasks I have to finish today. Completing something gives me a sense of accomplishment and helps me function in times of stress.
6. Adopt digital office tools
Investing in building your home office area isn’t enough. Give some thought to organizing your virtual environment to make it more efficient. Use Google Drive to save all your files, so you never have to back up again and can easily share materials with your colleagues. If you work as part of a team, use simple apps like Anydesk or TeamViewer to collaborate.
7. Master video call etiquette
In a reality where we all use video calls as a primary form of communication, it makes sense to give some thought to how you actually look in these meetings. Make sure you have a quality webcam and make your calls from a well-lit room, as everything looks dark through the webcam’s tiny shutter. Make calls from a convenient place, not while you’re moving around. Sit in front of a solid background that doesn’t grab the attention of others on the call. Or, if you want to appear more professional, make yourself a Zoom background with your company logo or contact details and use it for work-related calls.
8. Initiate outgoing calls
When working from home, and even more so now, when we can’t go to meetings or professional events, maintaining your relationships is vital. Don’t expect people to call you – pick up the phone and ask how they are. I make a point of scheduling weekly talks with my team. If you work as part of an organization, call up your team members. If you are looking for work opportunities, make a habit of reaching out to people with whom you’ve worked in the past.
As someone who lives and breathes social networks and as a business owner myself, I know how vital it is to update our followers about what we do. Posting photos from events, taking selfies with others, and describing what’s going on in your business is crucial for marketing. It’s even more important these days when all of us depend so much on our virtual communities. Tell others what you’re working on, recommend an inspiring book you’ve read, and share your dilemmas.
10. Take active breaks
Don’t forget to move is my most important advice for those working from home. Going on a walk or even 20 minutes of vigorous housework will help your concentration and boost your productivity. I always make sure to get up from my chair at least twice a day, take a walk, stretch, and think of something besides work. It’s essential for the body and soul.
Working from home can be a challenge, but if you learn to do it right, it can be a great way of life. Hopefully, these tips will help you to do just that.