At GLC, we’ve had a remote policy for two years — giving us lots of time to tweak and rethink what works and what doesn’t.
Now that many businesses have had a run at it, they’re realizing it’s a viable option in the long term, either full-time or part-time. Plus, in many states, schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year, keeping parents at home for the foreseeable future.
So whether you find yourself in a hastily set-up space in a bedroom or dining room, or an established home office, we offer some work-from-home habits that can set you up for success.
- Designate a workspace … or two. Choose a spot that is away from distractions (the TV) and temptations (the fridge) as home base for your computer and work materials. For some people, staying in one consistent workspace helps them focus. For others, an occasional change of venue gets the creative juices flowing. If you like to switch between sitting and standing, here’s a work-from-home hack: Turn a bookshelf into a standing desk by setting an adjustable shelf to the right height.
- Block your calendar. A home office, without the distractions of chatting coworkers and whirring copy machines, is a great environment for deep concentration and creative thinking. When you need to tackle an involved task, protect your distraction-free zone by scheduling blocks of time on your calendar, and mark yourself as unavailable. Turn off email notifications and silence your phone during these times.
- Communicate with your coworkers. Ignoring emails and chat messages for a little while is a great way to boost productivity. But don’t forget that you’re still part of a team. Give coworkers a heads up about times when you won’t be replying to messages or you don’t want to be disturbed. And tell them how they can reach you if something truly is urgent.
- Take breaks. It’s easy to lose track of how long you’ve been sitting in front of the computer. Try setting a timer to remind you to take a short break every half-hour or hour. Breaks not only prevent mental fatigue, they also restore your motivation and spur creativity. Adding movement to a break brings added mental and physical benefits. Try stretching, walking or a quick workout.
- Dress for the occasion. What you wear really does affect how you feel. You might be comfortable in your pajamas, but you don’t exude professionalism. Make it a habit to get dressed each morning, if for no other reason than changing out of your pajamas helps you mentally switch into work mode. Consider upgrading to business attire on days when you have important meetings, even if they’re not on video.
- Connect with real people. A two-year randomized Stanford study found remote workers performed better and felt more work satisfaction. The downside? Loneliness. Fortunately, virtual meetings and happy hours have become a standard feature of the work-from-home landscape. While video chats don’t replace face-to-face interaction, they can help you feel more connected to the people you communicate with on a daily basis.
- If you have kids at home, establish rituals. Many people are working remotely with kids at home for the time being. To give everyone a little sanity, create and stick to rituals. Schools have rituals to demarcate the start and end of instruction time (think the Pledge of Allegiance and school announcements). Usually, your commute bookends your workday. A remote school day or work day needs rituals, too. For example: After breakfast, go for a family walk (even if it’s just around the block). This little bit of movement and fresh air helps clear the mind. When you walk in the door, wash hands and start on the first task of the day.
How have you made working from home work for you?