How To Work From Home Effectively
If you are one of the lucky ones in America you have probably recently been asked to start to work from home due to the nationwide lockdowns. Being able to effectively work from home can have unique challenges as compared to office life. Due to shifting corporate attitudes on remote workers this scenario will become increasingly common in America even after the coronavirus goes away.
I’ve been working full or part time from home for over 10 years and managing teams of people that work remotely as well. I can give a little advice here on what it takes to keep productivity high and sanity in check. Considering this situation might be permanent for many, it is important to do well in the remote work environment in order to keep your career on track.
Keep the same routine when working at home
One of the most important things to do is have the mindset that you are going into the office. You must treat working from home with the same level of respect as you do working from the office. It may be tempting to call into your morning meetings from the bed but this is a bad idea.
A better approach is to set your alarm for the same time. When it goes off get up and do your normal morning routine. Take a shower, get dressed like normal(or at least like it’s casual Friday) and go eat breakfast. Prepare like you are going to sit in a face to face meeting with your boss.
This may sound overdone but it’s the key you maintaining your productivity from home. You need to take working from home as seriously as you do working in the office. Putting the extra time in the morning to get ready for work helps mentally prepare you to work effectively. Being dressed for work and clean shaven also helps give you confidence and your coworkers will notice the effort when in video chats.
Get the right equipment for your home office
Use a Real Desk and Desk Chair
Stop working from your kitchen table or living room couch. Get a real desk and desk chair. Spend some money if you need, make sure the quality is on par with what you have at an office. You want to be able to work full days without being uncomfortable, so splurge here a bit if you need to.
Get Peripherals for Your Laptop
You aren’t working on that tiny laptop keyboard and track pad are you? Even worse, are you trying to update a spreadsheet on a 13″ laptop screen? Do yourself a favor and get a full sized keyboard, mouse and an external monitor. You need real equipment to work with if you are going to do it full time.
Make Sure Your Internet and Router Can Handle It
Go ahead an upgrade your home internet and WiFi router. Cheap routers won’t have the capacity or stability needed to drive Zoom calls and keep your corporate VPN running. Trust me on this one, spending extra on a router will save you a lot of headaches.
I have had great luck with NetGear Nighthawk routers. I am able to keep dozens of devices online at once with mine. I have had 4 devices on 4 different Zoom calls, along with two TVs streaming in 4k at once and it never missed a beat.
Find a dedicated work area
This is not always possible but it is really best if you separate work from main living areas. It helps to create a mental barrier between work and play. This plays into the idea of taking work as seriously from home as you do in the office.
It also looks a lot more professional when you share your camera on Zoom. Remember your co-workers will get a taste of your personal life by what they see behind you in video chats. You want it to look as professional as possible if you want to be taken seriously.
Take care of your health
Get up and walk around every so often. If you use a Fitbit or Apple Watch to track your steps, you might be amazed at the drop in your overall activity levels when you work from home. You need to make a conscious effort to keep your activity levels up and take care of your health. I personally recommend taking your normal time spent commuting to and from the office and using that time to exercise.
Also, make sure to decouple yourself from work at a planned time every day. It is easy once you work from home to let work invade all aspects of your private life. This is terrible over the long term for your work life balance. Pick an end time every day and shut down your computer and be off work even if you never leave the house.
In short take your job as seriously when working remotely as you do in the office and you will be fine. If you are forced to work remote due to a closed office, try and keep a positive attitude. Mentally take care of yourself by creating barriers between your personal and professional life and remember to stay fit.