The Basics of Working from Home

As more people give up long commutes and traffic for working from home, staying productive outside the office can be a challenge. From occasional telecommuters and full-time remote employees to freelancers, everyone has grappled with the idea of workspaces within the home.

While each individual’s needs and contexts vary, a few simple steps can significantly elevate the work from home experience for everyone. Here are a few remote working basics that can set anyone up for success.

Maintain a Regular Schedule

It helps to begin your day like you typically would in an office. Wake up on time, have breakfast, get dressed, and show up to work – even if work is the coffee table in the kitchen. 

Maintaining a daily schedule helps you stay motivated and provides structure. Take some time to evaluate and determine the best rhythm for your day or week. Once that is done, set realistic goals and timelines each day.

Create an Enjoyable Workspace

Find ways to turn a non-descript workspace into a place with plenty of mental stimulation. Studies show how color, light, and form influence calmness and productivity. Hang artwork, posters, or motivational quotes on your desk or wall. Experiment with colors wherever possible and change up light strength throughout the day. A vibrant environment is vital to keep motivation high and improves creativity and productivity.

Set Clear Boundaries

Take care to maintain boundaries to avoid feeling like you are always at work. One of the biggest challenges in remote working during the pandemic is the perceived loss of a sense of ‘home.’ It is essential to keep the two spaces separate by setting clear boundaries.

Communicate with colleagues about when you are reachable or unavailable. Similarly, let your family know you are off-limits during work hours. Maintaining a balance with everyone concerned allows you to switch from work to home mode and back again more effectively.

Take Regular Breaks

Taking regular breaks helps rejuvenate the brain. Researchers at a social media company discovered that the best workers typically averaged 52 minutes of focused work and followed it up with a 17-minute break. The key is to indulge in activities that make you feel good – from stretching, walking, exercising, reading, to just lounging around and doing nothing.

Stay Connected

Make the extra effort to stay connected with colleagues, clients, and peers. Prolonged isolation can take a toll on even the most introverted person, so it is vital to stay engaged. Schedule informal meet-ups or chats with people now and then. Use social networking platforms to engage with organizations or causes that are special to you.

With a few shifts in behavior and rejigging physical spaces, navigating work from home will not seem like a daunting task. Acknowledge what you accomplish each day – completing a project, finishing laundry, cooking a meal – instead of stressing about all the things still left to do. Since staying motivated and focused can be difficult, remember to celebrate small wins regularly.

Written by Charlie Garner, a Researcher at Harper HR