Working from home for the win: Tips and tricks for working remotely - MP Edition 023
With everything that’s going on around the world with COVID-19, working from home is increasingly becoming the norm.
While working remotely is not a new trend - freelancers and entrepreneurs have been doing it for ages - it’s more important than ever right now to help flatten the curve.
We’re not gonna lie, working from home sounds great initially (no commute and no pants!) but the fact of the matter is that going into the office each day provides an inherent structure and without it can lead to a decline of productivity, morale, and mood.
So for those who have the ability and privilege of working from home during this time, we want to share tips and best practices to help you make the most of it.
Tips for working from home
Have frequent check-ins
Check-ins help provide a bit of structure to your day. It’s easy to get sucked into working in a silo when you work from home. Check-ins provide a consistent forum that allows you to voice any concerns you have or roadblocks you run into, as well as make sure you’re on the same page as your team.
Get on a call when possible
Sometimes more miscommunication can occur when face-to-face interactions are not possible. Instead of a multitude of back and forth emails and messages, get on a phone or video call with someone to streamline communications.
Have cameras on during virtual meetings
When you’re having a virtual meeting encourage everyone to turn their cameras on to see each other’s faces (and pets and kiddos!). There’s a lot that can be conveyed in non-verbal communication. For example, you can see who’s excited (or concerned) or who has a question.
Choose clarity over brevity
If a call is not possible and you have to communicate through emails or chat, you should take some extra time and care with your messages because online interactions don't afford the same luxury of things like intonation or facial expressions that in-person interactions do. When communicating online:
Always provide context as not everyone has the same information as you do
Give your message a quick read before you hit that send button, not only for clarity and to avoid typos, but to ensure it conveys accurate messaging
Ensure your ask is clear if there’s a request being made
Ensure that next steps as well as who is responsible for them are clear as well
Arguably the biggest con of working from home is the loneliness that can accompany it. Working remotely can leave you craving the sense of connection and camaraderie of the office.
Create a virtual water cooler
Instead of in-person connections, create communal places online where team members can get to know each other and build rapport. Try the below ideas:
A #random Slack channel where people can post non-work topics they would normally just turn to their desk neighbor to share
A communal virtual meeting where people can jump on when they feel lonely
Virtual happy hour or lunches
Online celebrations of successes, birthdays, and work anniversaries
Virtual coffee or tea with a colleague
Anything that helps build that sense of camaraderie and connection, as well as help build morale.
Working from home blurs the lines between professional and personal life real quick, and can feel like you’re working all. the. time. These tips below can help you make the distinction to avoid burnout and feeling overworked.
Remember to break for lunch
It can be easy to skip meals when you’re working from home but lunchtime is a crucial opportunity to not only fuel your body but to step away from the screen and recharge your mind. Plus you can make yourself a real meal at home. Remember to book in breaks throughout the day as well.
Set up a designated WFH space
Having a designated space at home for work will create a mental and physical separation that helps you disconnect at the end of the workday. Otherwise, your home just starts feeling like one big office.
Stick to normal working hours
Log off when you normally would. Working from home doesn’t mean working 24/7. Shut off and hide your computer if need be at the end of your day to avoid the never-ending workday.
Build buffers to switch contexts at the end of the day
Normally for most of us, the commute home indicates the end of the workday. But with no commute, the switch can be jarring. Give yourself a buffer to help switch context: take a walk around the block for a faux commute, go exercise, bike, or do whatever you need to do to give yourself time to let go of work.
Get dressed as if you were going to the office
This will help establish a routine and help you shift into a work mindset. It’s a small step with a huge change in perception. Plus, you’ll look fresh and presentable on video calls.
Take care of yourself
Have a comfortable set up
Don’t forget ergonomics. Working from your sofa may seem comfortable but your neck and back will thank you when you take the time to set up properly:
Situate your monitor an arm’s length away at eye level
Sit with your head neutral and chin parallel to the ground
Adjust your chair so that your knees and hips are at 90 degrees
Elbows should also be bent at 90 degrees
If you have a standing desk, look into investing in an anti-fatigue mat
Take breaks to move around and loosen up your muscles. Try yoga or stretching to shake off any sluggishness and sleep.
Get some fresh air
A change in scenery can help you recharge your productivity and reboot your mind. Take a walk around your block or go grab a cup of coffee near your place.
The above tips can be helpful no matter what your situation is; we all have a little more time on our hands these days. When we think about the current state of things, a quote comes to mind: “The successful person is the average person, focused”. Right now is a prime time to look on the bright side and use this opportunity to focus and make that great idea you’ve been sitting on or putting off a reality.
We hope these tips help you transition to working from home more smoothly. Stay safe, practice social distancing, and have compassion for others - we’re all in this together. ❤️
P.S. We might be working from home due to a serious situation but that doesn’t mean we can have a few laughs and some fun while we’re at it. Here is a WFF during a global pandemic bingo.