The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a raging enemy which is taking its brunt out on the world. This unprecedented situation has paralyzed life as we know it and has forced governments and institutions to adopt some drastic measures. One such measure by companies is asking its employees to work from home.
On the face of it, work from home may seem easy. But it also has a set of cons. Effective working from home tips can eliminate these cons and ensure a smooth sailing work from home experience.
Top 20 Working From Home Tips
Working from home is not easy! Sure you may have realized it till now.
Working at home in pajamas has been the dream for many. In an unfortunate way, when this dream has come alive, you may be second-guessing your fantasy now.
Working from home is a tricky business. That’s because you need to maintain your productivity, get things done, and also take out some personal time. Doing work remotely becomes even more challenging when you have kids at home.
Fret not! Working from home can be handled in a smart way. All you have to do is follow some working from home tips.
This new work setting may be new for you but it is the norm for many independent workers. Freelance writers, SEO professionals, and website developers are some professionals who know how to ace in remote working.
Go through the tips and tricks they swear by to maintain both productivity and personal health.
1. Have a proper workspace
The biggest mistake that people do while working from home is not having a proper workspace. Don’t commit this mistake.
First, start with finding a good location for work at your house. When you have found a quiet and well-lit space, proceed to set up a desk and chair.
While choosing a chair, pay attention to your comfort. Remember that, you will be spending most of your time sitting in this chair.
2. Dress up for work
Does this sound weird to you? It isn’t! Think about when you went to the office. After waking up you took a shower and dressed up. This made you feel confident and ready for work.
This simple activity signals to your brain that it is time for work. When you are working from home getting into that mind space is necessary. A quick transition from lounging at home to working at home can boost your productivity.
3. Have a work schedule
Setting a definite schedule will be a boon to you while working from home. Both working long hours and working less are undesirable. Therefore, stick to a schedule.
Following a schedule will help you in maintaining work-life balance. Additionally, do not forget to consider different time zones if you deal with international clients.
4. Take frequent breaks
For maintaining optimum productivity take breaks at regular intervals. You can take 5-minute breaks every 30 minutes or take a 20-minute break after 2-3 hours.
Either arrangement is good. Regular breaks refresh the mind and prevent fatigue.
5. Check your surrounding before video calls
Most of the jobs now require employees to do video calls. While working in an office you don’t have to worry about your surroundings, in a home office you do.
The Internet is full of videos where remote employees have found themselves in awkward situations. If you want to avoid these, be prepared before going on a video call.
- First, make sure you are dressed properly
- Tidy the room up
- Convey to your family members that you will be in a video call beforehand
- Request friends and family to not disturb you while on call
6. Have rules with people living at home
From the beginning, convey to your family or friends that you would be unavailable during the office hours. There is no harm in expecting your help with household chores or running errands. However, disclose that you won’t run errands when you are working.
7. Take some time off work
When you are working from home time seems to fly away. If you are not careful enough you can end up spending the entire day working. This is not a healthy practice either workwise or health-wise.
To avoid such situations, tracking work hours, taking frequent breaks, or taking weekends off is the key.
8. Know your most productive hours
The most productive time during the day varies from person to person. Some people are ‘a morning person’ and can get most of their work done during mornings. On the other hand, some people are their productive best during the evenings.
Schedule your most challenging and important tasks around your productive hours.
9. Don’t hesitate to ask for help
Working from home can be tough. Therefore, do not hesitate to talk with your colleagues and manager on this. If you are facing a problem with the technological aspect of work from home then ask for some guidance.
It is also a good idea to discuss some working from home tips to maintain focus.
10. Take sick leaves
Don’t be of the idea that if you are working from home you are not allowed to take sick leaves. If you fall sick while working from home you can still avail them.
If your company provides sick leaves then you should definitely use them when required.
11. Don’t hesitate to over-communicate
While working in a remote team you are not able to see each other. Hence, it’s hard to keep track of the progress of a project. When this happens, a lot of time people are afraid to over-communicate with their colleagues. If you are in a similar dilemma then know this. One of the worst things that you can do while working from home is under-communicate.
It’s okay to over-communicate and find out if everything is going according to plan.
12. Talk with your coworkers
One of the great working from home tips is not losing touch with your coworkers. Your coworkers are in the same boat as you. Even they had to make this sudden change of working from home. If you are feeling isolated and are having a hard time concentrating at work, talk to them.
13. Take the help of productivity apps
If you want to stay productive but are facing issues with focusing on a task then take the help of productivity apps. RescueTime, Harvest, and Toggl are some apps that will track your productivity at home.
These will give you realistic data on how many hours a week or days a week you are working. From this data, you can take the necessary steps to become focused and productive.
Now, if you are in customer service then you might want to track your number of phone calls and duration of calls.
14. Make your presence known
Work from home can often make you feel ignored and isolated from your colleagues. To avoid feeling ignored, participate in meetings. Even come forward to hold video calls.
Video conferencing can make it easy to put your point across the team members. Plus, a video call will enable you to make your presence known.
15. Create a to-do list
While working remotely, being organized is integral to getting things done. One of the great working from home tips is, therefore, creating a to-do list. A to-do list will tell you the tasks that you need to complete in a day. This will make it easy for you to plan your day and utilize your time efficiently.
16. Organize video chats
With the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing is the need of the hour. However, social distancing doesn’t mean you have to be emotionally distant as well.
Human beings are social animals and they need social interactions. Video chats with colleagues and clients can be the social interaction that you need during this crisis. You can use the following applications for this purpose:
- Google hangouts
17. Have a morning routine
You can save money and enjoy flexible schedules with remote work. However, what is vital is that you develop a mindset of doing work at home. This can be achieved by designing a morning routine that motivates you to start work.
A good morning routine can be anything like exercising or having a wholesome breakfast before work.
Don’t be amazed, but one of the best working from home tips is doing exercise. In contrast to full-time office work, remote work doesn’t leave much room for physical activity. This can be detrimental to your health. Therefore, during this lockdown period be sure to include exercising in your daily routine.
19. Review your day
At the end of each working day, review the tasks that have been completed. This will give you the real picture of how much work you are getting done. Reviewing your day will tell you:
- The progress you are making each day with a project
- Where are you spending your time the most?
- How can you better manage time?
20. Don’t be too harsh on yourself
This is a new office setting for many. Initially, you may find yourself getting distracted easily. Do not be too harsh on yourself for this. Chances are even your colleagues are facing the same thing.
Getting work done from an unconventional space takes time to get used to.
8 Ways to Make Work From Home Fun
During this coronavirus pandemic, working from home is not optional. It is mandatory to stay home.
Long hours of working from home and not being able to leave the house can be boring. Therefore, you need to designate some personal time to have some fun.
Some working from home tips to have fun and remain sane during the lockdown days are:
1. Spend time with your family
This is the perfect time to spend some time with your family. Talk to your spouse, children, or parents. Catch up on what is going in their lives and bond with them.
2. Do an online course
Now that you don’t have to commute to work, you have additional time on your hands. This is a great chance to enroll in an online course. You can learn new skills and further your career with some relevant online courses.
3. Play with your pets
You can’t do this if you don’t have pets, but playing with your pet is a great way of releasing stress. Both you and your pet will appreciate your time together during this difficult time.
4. Play with your children
Children do not get enough playtime with their parents when they are full-time employees. While working from home, you can spend some quality time with your children. Enjoy the perks of being home parents while you can.
With all the things happening in our world, it is good to engage in some self-care. Meditating is the best self-care routine that can promote mental health and reduce anxiety.
6. Listen to music
Listening to music never fails to both entertain and relax people. Since you are working from home now, you can put on some good music to boost productivity. Some people can do more and concentrate better when listening to music.
7. Read books
Work from home doesn’t need to be a punishment. You can engage in activities that you enjoy. One of the most useful as well as an entertaining way of refreshing your mind is reading books.
8. Play online games
Another great way of switching off your mind from work is playing online games. Yes, it is not the most productive way of spending time. However, if it puts you in a good mood in this difficult time, don’t judge yourself!
13 Things to Avoid While Working From Home
1. Don’t work on your bed
Working from your bed is one of the worst work from home arrangements. A bed is a place for rest. It is not a place where you will feel motivated to work. No matter how tempting it is to work from the bed, avoid taking your laptop there. If you do not want to end up falling asleep, it’s best to sit on a desk.
2. Don’t work in your night suit
Dress up how you would usually do on a normal office day. It’s all about switching into a working mind space when it comes to working from home. Successful independent workers like consulting business owners abide by this rule. They have said that dressing up for work does make a difference when they work from home.
3. Don’t look at the news frequently
With all the things happening in the world right now, it is only natural to look at the news from time to time. While this is understandable, it is not ideal for your work.
If you do not want to lag behind and betray the trust of your employer, avoid doing this.
4. Don’t engage in social media
Social media is the no. 1 culprit for distractions. No matter how tempting it is to open Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, avoid them at all costs. 75% of remote workers have agreed that social media is the no.1 distractor. It can stretch your working hours and reduce productive work.
5. Don’t talk to the family during working hours
During this lockdown, enjoy spending extra time with your family. However, do not do this during working hours. When you are working from home it is more important that you keep your professional and personal life separate.
6. Don’t skip meals
Most of the don’ts are on lines of not taking work from home seriously. But this is a point that workaholics should pay close attention to. While working at home, it is easy to lose track of time. However, you mustn’t postpone or skip your meals.
Eat lunch and have a normal lunch break. Work can wait.
7. Don’t neglect health
One of the best working from home tips is not neglecting health. There are three big problems with work from home. First, it reduces physical activity. Second, it reduces social interaction and third, it messes up with your daily routine (especially if you work on different time zones).
To take care of your health remember to address these issues with:
- Talking to friends and family
- And compensating for lost sleep
8. Don’t take tech lightly
Technology is the most important factor in creating a successful home office. If you neglect this, you are doomed to fail in the work from home arrangement. Certain essentials that you must have are:
- A fast and seamless WiFi connection
- A computer or gadgets that are needed for your work
- The required software
- A strong antivirus
Do not forget to update software regularly to avoid problems with applications. Also, do not forget to back up your work.
9. Don’t forget to use VPN
The coronavirus pandemic has led almost every company to adopt work from home culture. This means most employees are now forced to use the home network for the internet. This exposes remote workers to serious security threats. To avoid falling prey to hackers and malware, use a VPN.
10. Don’t take this arrangement for granted
When your employer allows work from home, they put a lot of trust in you. Don’t betray that trust by partying at home. Respect the trust shown by your employers and be sincere with your work during office hours.
11. Don’t procrastinate
With no managerial supervision, procrastination is the biggest challenge that you will face when working from home. Be it doing household chores or checking out a friend’s status on social media, there are many distractions that you need to avoid to meet deadlines.
12. Don’t mix house chore with office work
The best working from home tips is not mixing house chores with office work. Indeed remote work provides you flexibility, but don’t take advantage of this. Do not do household work during work time. During office hours stay on task and stay focused.
13. Not engaging in face to face communication
There are many avenues to communicate with a remote team today. Still, most remote workers only talk to their colleagues via emails. Try mixing up your communication mode and resort to video calls to have some face to face conversations.
Working From Home If You Have Kids
Working from home when you have kids is no joke. The struggle is real! It doesn’t matter if you have managed to work from home for decades. Now due to COVID-19, you will be home with your kids. This is going to make work from home quite challenging.
It’s now time to apply some tips for working, that working moms swear by.
1. Be flexible with your schedule
While creating a work from home schedule be realistic. Your working day needs to have plenty of breaks when you are home with kids. Kids demand a lot of attention. Therefore, you need to plan breaks to keep an eye on them.
2. Leverage their nap time
The best time when you can give full attention to your work is during nap times. You can easily get 1-3 hours of free time when your child sleeps. If your kid isn’t tired and doesn’t want to sleep, let them have a quiet reading time instead.
Work at home moms can give their children storybooks to read to keep them busy.
3. Keep the kids engaged
Keeping kids engaged can be a mammoth task as they have a short attention span. However, don’t lose hope, it is possible! Kids can be kept engaged if you find what interests them. Once you discover it, it won’t be that difficult. For example, some kids love to paint. On the contrary, some others love to play with their toys.
Some suggestions to keep your child busy are:
Keep them occupied with:
- Bouncing chairs
- Nursery rhymes
- Safe toys
- Entertaining baby shows
Keep them occupied with:
- Educational apps
- Video games
- T.V. shows they enjoy
- Virtual play dates
Keep them occupied with:
- Educational shows
- Online games
- Home assignments
- Online socializing platforms
4. Set boundaries
With schools being closed and companies asking employees to work from home it can all be big chaos (If you let it!).
How struggles of working from home with kids can be avoided? Set strict ground rules!
Talk with your children. Make them understand why it is important to not disturb you while you work. Lay down some rules that will provide you uninterrupted work time. For example, you can ask your kids not to enter the room when you start working in your room.
5. Separate your parenting and professional roles
To play the role of both a parent and professional nicely you need to separate them. Mixing them up or allowing one to dominate the other can be detrimental.
How to separate them?
You can separate them both physically and mentally. Having a separate room for the home office is a physical separation. Mental separation means switching off your brain from work when the laptop is closed.
6. Ask for help
Juggling working life with young children at home is never easy. Therefore, do not hesitate to ask for help. You can ask your partner to help you in taking care of the children while you work.
If both of you are working parents and remain busy then consider asking your parents to help out.
7. Keep a plan B
No plans are foolproof. There will be times where you will need a plan B for emergencies. Resort to having a list of activities in place that can occupy your kid’s attention for some time.
The list of activities can contain things like building cartoon characters with legos or completing a quiz on educational apps.
8. Incentivize good behavior
It’s not enough to just set boundaries. If you want your kids to keep on their best behavior when you are busy with work, reward them. Give them incentives like an additional hour of a video game.
Yes, this is sort of bribing your kids to behave nicely. But, this can be your only choice when you need to get some work done.
9. Take the help of your partner
If you want to balance work with caring for children ask your partner to help. Given that everyone is asked to work from home, your partner will also be working at home with you. If you coordinate with them and take shifts to look after the kids, it may become easier to handle the situation.
Sit with your partner and discuss the timings when they can look after the children. For example, if you have to enter a conference call in the morning let them handle the kids. Do the same when they have to complete a task in the evening.
10. Consider working part-time
If every working from home tips fails then consider doing part-time work. This is a suitable arrangement if you are home with a baby. Due to the pandemic, it may not be possible to find a babysitter. Therefore, you may need to resort to this last option.
Working From Home Without Childcare
If it were normal times then you could arrange a babysitter or ask a neighbor to watch your kids. However, with coronavirus pandemic, you need to practice social distancing so you can’t choose these options.
Since this will be the case for most now, parents would need some creative ways to keep their kids occupied.
For situations like this, you can:
- Ask your family members to look after your kids while you work
- Take shifts with your partners
- Increase the screen time for the kids (just for now)
- Encourage them to do more reading
- Arrange virtual play dates with their friends
Having worked in an office for long, it can be difficult to make the switch to working from home. However, this is the only way to keep oneself safe and stop the infection from spreading.
It is a difficult time and it is okay to have feelings of isolation. Keep a positive mindset, wash your hands frequently, and apply these working from home tips.
Sujata is someone who believes in the power of the written word. She regards life as a constant pursuit of knowledge and self-discovery. As a freelance writer, she has written extensively on health, psychology, self-improvement, travel, and digital marketing. Blogging and digital marketing are her other passions. Sujata is a strong believer in maintaining balance in life and wants people to focus more on their mental wellbeing. When she is not busy checking out the latest fashion trends she can be found binge-watching a thriller web series.